Daniel Radcliffe Wants To Make A Key Part Of His Weird Al Performance Permanent

"Weird Al" Yankovic once gave a very strong opinion when it comes to accordions. On the "Ask Al" section of his website in March of 2000, Yankovic was asked if a 96-bass accordion was adequate. "Sure," Yankovic replied, "a 96-bass accordion is enough ... if you're a WIMP! Real men only play 120-bass accordions!" For the record, Yankovic typically plays a Roland FR-7 V-Accordion, although a 2008 article in Wired pointed out that Al has supplemented his accordions with digital sound to eliminate the issue of constantly moving bellows which, historically, aren't very microphone friendly. 

Yankovic has told the story several times that, when he was a boy, a door-to-door salesman arrived at his home selling either accordions or guitars. His parents, noting they had the same name as the popular polka king Frankie Yankovic (no relation) elected the accordion. Yankovic has joked that he's grateful for their choice, now that accordion players have become the central sex symbols of the modern age. Yankovic took formal accordion lessons for three years as a child, then took to figuring out the instrument on his own. Early recordings of Yankovic, made in his bedroom as a teen, feature the precocious scamp — his mind filled by Dr. Demento's records of Allan Sherman, Spike Jones, and Tom Lehrer — approximating pop hits and standards on the instrument to an astonishingly accurate degree. 

Yankovic's dedication and proficiency on the squeezebox eventually launched a comedic musical career that would become the high-water mark of the genre. Now 62, Yankovic has inspired millions of young nerds to record their own oddball hits and to play sexy, sexy instruments like the accordion. 

The Elements

One such nerd is actor Daniel Radcliffe, who will play Yankovic in the upcoming absurdist biopic "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story." In a recent interview with EW, Radcliffe said that, after learning how to play the accordion for the role, he fully intends to stick with it.

Radcliffe caught the eye of comedy music lovers when, in a 2010 episode of "The Graham Norton Show," he gleefully broke into an a cappella version of Tom Lehrer's "The Elements," a list song of all the known chemical elements on the periodic table set to the tune of "The Major General Song" from "The Pirates of Penzance." Radcliffe has credited this performance as the primary reason he was even considered to play the role of "Weird Al" Yankovic in "Weird." 

Once cast, Radcliffe threw himself into the part, sure to learn the fineries and foibles of Yankovic's instrument of choice. Radcliffe found that the accordion is a massively difficult instrument to play, and although he did take many lessons and practice a heck of a lot, he was still a mere novice by the time shooting concluded. He finds that, with a few more years of dedication, he might actually become a step higher than a novice:

"I'm not good at the accordion, but I've come so far with it relative to the nothing that I started at that it seems dumb to just stop playing completely. I think I'm going to very gradually keep it up over the years, and maybe one day I'll be able to play a song with both hands at the same time."

The accordion, for noobs, requires a constant squeezing of bellows, while one hand plays a keyboard and the other manipulates Stradella bass chord buttons. 

I'm the weird one

"Weird" isn't so much a straight biopic of Yankovic's life as it is a feature-length expansion of the Funny or Die short film from 2013. The short was a mock trailer for a hard-hitting, sex-soaked, addiction-forward Al Yankovic biopic, jokingly inaccurate, that imagined Al's life if it resembled any number of rock biopics that climax with a grand burnout. The short sent up "moment of inspiration" scenes from music biopics, as when Dr. Demento (Patton Oswalt in the short, Rainn Wilson in the feature) suggested he write songs about food. Yankovic himself has a cameo in the short as a snotty record producer who explains that no one would pay for a parody song when the real song costs the same. 

"Weird" will not be the first time Yankovic sent up his own life story in mock biopic form. The 1985 video "The Compleat Al" essentially did the same thing, with Al "recreating" key moments in his career up to that point, only with a fictional twist. One can rest assured that "Weird" will be about 60% accurate. 

That said, director and co-writer Eric Appel did get a lot of input from Al himself, saying: 

"[Al] was on Zoom all day long from his tour bus. All the way until he'd get onstage to perform, he'd be texting me. I'd start to respond and I'd get back, 'Oops, on stage.'"

Yankovic meanwhile is in the midst of completing the Unfortunate Return of the Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour. "Weird" will debut on The Roku Channel on November 4, 2022.