Daniel Radcliffe is pretty much down to talk about anything, including the magical franchise (*cough* “Harry Potter” *cough*) that made him a household name. But if you ever have the chance to chat with the actor, there is one thing you should avoid asking him, which HuffPost found out in an interview last week.
Don’t ask Daniel Radcliffe about how hard it is to be an actor.
Technically, we didn’t even ask this. He brought it up himself.
“No one wants to hear actors talk about how hard shoots are,” Radcliffe first said when asked about what he was proudest of on his new film, “Jungle,” the real-life survival story of Yossi Ghinsberg, a man who beat the odds and lived for three weeks while stranded in the Amazon.
Radcliffe’s irritation with self-congratulatory thespians came up again when we asked about his transformation for the film, since he basically lost a Dobby-sized amount of weight from his frame.
“Again, I don’t want to ...” started Radcliffe, “One of my pet peeves is actors who — I think the classic example of it is always boxing movies. And the actor is talking about how intense it is to train and all that stuff, but, you know, people are boxers,” said Radcliffe. “Boxers exist.”
He continued, “It’s not a thing that makes ourselves fucking special. I want to be careful with that ... I was going home and staying in a hotel at night, and Yossi actually lived it. I don’t want to be like, ‘Oh, yeah, it was so hard.’”
(Note to self, never show Daniel Radcliffe videos of Leonardo DiCaprio talking about filming “The Revenant.”)
As much as Radcliffe wants to downplay it, the shoot for “Jungle” in Colombia and Australia was undoubtedly distressing. The actor told us in one case the unpredictable weather delayed a pivotal scene by a week when the set was flooded under 10 feet of water overnight. Radcliffe said camera operators could easily find themselves crowded together on the same tiny rock near rapids.
“Everyone’s going to be tied to something so you don’t fall in the river, so you sort of got this spider web safety lines that everyone’s on. It was a real challenge to film, and you get a real sense of achievement when you make something in these conditions,” he said.
Radcliffe continued to open up about topics he did like discussing, including fantasy football and even “Sharknado.”
Is it true you’re into fantasy football?
Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I’ve actually had a very good weekend, Bill. I’ve won both my games this weekend. Thank you for asking.
I’m in two leagues, one that I run and one that I’ve been in for a few years, and I actually managed to do well this year for the first time in a while, so, yes, thank you. I’ve always been. I even weird people out [...] people know me as being very English. But I am an obsessive American football fan.
Well, congratulations on your wins. It’s not going so great for me this year.
It’s not your fault. It’s Odell Beckham’s fault.
This movie has intense scenes, but the real story is even crazier. Yossi fell and got impaled by a stick in his rectum.
There were a couple of things like the moment where I cut something out of my [character’s] head. There was a worm in my head, and I cut it out, and that’s a horrendous moment. That’s one of the things in real life, as it happened to Yossi, I think he had to cut about 18 of those out, not just one. And we’re going like, you can’t. There’s a limit to what people will watch.
My concern whenever I see something that says based on a true story, I’m always very suspicious in a way. My guard goes up immediately, and I’m like, “OK, but how much of this is really true.” And then after reading the script, I read Yossi’s book, and I was like, “Oh, wow! Actually, we had to cut a lot out just to make it more believable.” I think when you’re watching a film and you see [something] that strikes you as, “That wouldn’t happen,” even if it did happen in real life, it takes you out of it. One of the things was the stick up the ass. We were like, “How do we do that? How do we show that? How do we track that for the rest of the film without it becoming graphic?” There’s nothing funny about it. It’s horrendous, but we were worried it might slip into painful, gross-out, and it might get the reaction of pained laughter. You want to keep people in the story, and there were some moments that happened to Yossi that were so extreme. If I were an audience member, I would question that, even though now I know it’s true.
I know you don’t want to talk about the difficulties you had to go through, but your transformation is pretty dramatic.
I’m not a method actor or anything, but I feel like I would be making my job much harder if I would go home and eat steak and potatoes every night ... so I just massively cut down on eating. I had, I think, two or three weeks before, leading up to that last scene, I was eating a serving of fish or a chicken breast and a protein bar every day. And then for two days before the actual scene, I just sort of stopped eating. It helps with the look, but ... there’s something about feeling that genuine kind of exhaustion, feeling it in your legs, feeling tired was very useful, and also that last scene, when the set got flooded was even more heartbreaking because I had a big stick of chocolate in the fridge ready for myself after we finished. My Tuesday night, I’m going home. I’m eating that whole thing. And then it got pushed back by a week, so I was like, “OK, I guess I’m doing this for another week.”
If you were playing another real-life character, who would it be?
This is actually not really the answer to your question, but it’s sort of half an answer to it [...] there are two true stories I’m blown away have never been made into amazing films that I know of. [...] There’s a woman called Dr. James Barry, who lived the most extraordinary life. She pretended to be a man for her entire life and she became one of the most senior doctors in England, and she went out to the Crimean War, and Florence Nightingale described her as giving her the worst telling off she ever had, basically. Then, she also became the first doctor to ever perform a cesarean section, and she lived her whole life as a man. And it wasn’t discovered until after she died that she had actually been a woman. She left instructions on her desk for nobody to undress her corpse and for her to be buried in the clothes she died in so that people could help honor that. And they suddenly were like, “Oh, you are not a man.” So that’s an incredible story. And also, I just finished watching the Ken Burns “Roosevelts” series not long ago, and why there hasn’t been a good Eleanor Roosevelt movie is incredible. That movie needs to be made.
You expressed interest in “Sharknado” before. I talked to the writer, Thunder Levin, who said you had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t do one of the films. What was the reason?
I love those movies. I don’t think I would be good in them. I am and remain a huge fan of “Sharknado” movies. I’m not sure I’d actually ... I think some things for me I enjoy watching them more than I would enjoy being in it.
“Jungle” is in select theaters and On Demand & Digital HD on Oct. 20.
This interview has been condensed and edited.