Why Daniel Radcliffe Stars In So Many Weird Movies

After having huge success within a young adult franchise, many young actors try to distinguish themselves and make a clean break from their family-friendly roots. Just look at the careers of former "Twilight," "Hunger Games," and "Harry Potter" stars, like Josh Hutcherson, Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Daniel Radcliffe. As they set out to do more serious adult work, many of them also embraced roles that were kind of weird. In Radcliffe's case, he grabbed onto the weirdest roles possible and never let go, and will soon star as one of the kings of weird in "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story," which debuts on Roku on November 4, 2022. 

In the latest issue of Total Film magazine, Radcliffe opened up about his decision to chase truly unusual roles and why he's continued to tackle some of the biggest oddballs in all of TV and cinema. Like his fellow "Harry Potter" film alum Pattinson, once Radcliffe puts himself into a role, he commits fully, and it's a beautiful thing to see. 

The freedom of franchise fame

Radcliffe got his start in the "Harry Potter" films as the title character, and that level of fame gave him opportunities that he never would have gotten as an actor otherwise:

"'Potter' was initially why I have the opportunity to do the weird stuff I want to do. I'm incredibly lucky to have that kind of freedom. [...] And this was a phrase I was using before I did this film: weird begets weird. As soon as one person goes 'Oh, "Swiss Army Man"', it leads to 'Guns Akimbo.' People are more likely to send you stuff. They also send you stuff that's weird for no f***ing reason, and you're like 'what is this?' You also get absolute gems sent as well."

Fresh off of "Harry Potter," Radcliffe performed onstage fully nude in "Equus" on Broadway, which might have been the thing that kicked off his pattern of strange roles. His role as the romantic(ish) lead in the beautifully bizarre "Horns" was still somewhat in young adult territory, but once he played a farting corpse in the Daniels' film "Swiss Army Man," all bets were off. 

A wild card on screens big and small

Radcliffe seems to have taken a hint from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" character Frank Reynolds, who realizes his own mortality and says "Well, I don't know how many years on this Earth I got left. I'm gonna get real weird with it." If his playing a farting corpse for the entirety of "Swiss Army Man" isn't weird enough, he also played a drug-addicted doctor who can talk to his older self on the BBC's "A Young Doctor's Notebook," a mentally-ill man with guns bolted to his hands in the movie "Guns Akimbo," and a couple of different weird and wonderful characters on the TBS series "Miracle Workers." You know what? All you need to do to understand Radcliffe's dedication to going all-in on the delightfully strange is watch him dance his butt off as a priest in the Old West on the latest season of "Miracle Workers."

It's clear that Radcliffe has the chops and charisma to carry these kinds of characters, and that he has the potential to be one of our greatest character actors instead of the leading man he was poised to be immediately post-"Potter," but is that something he wants?

Weird is compelling, okay?

When asked what it is exactly that makes Radcliffe decide to jump in with both feet on a role, he explained that it's just a matter of having a good idea and then taking it to its fullest extent:

"There's no specific criteria. If a script has a really great premise then obviously that will make me sit up. The films I've chosen: they have this premise and then they fully explore it. That is something that will always hook me into a script. They don't come along often. It's very hard to do."

The stories that the talented performer seems to gravitate towards all take a truly strange concept — a man befriending a gassy corpse, a man who can talk to his past self, a guy with guns bolted to his hands — and run with that concept as far as they can. Radcliffe likes to go all-in, and seems to want movies that demand the audience go all-in as well. That's some Nicolas Cage style decision-making and I'm here for it. 

Make sure to check Radcliffe out in "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story" on Roku on November 4. It's guaranteed to get weird.