Daniel Radcliffe is playing the movie star game in reverse.
Today’s breed of twentysomething actors usually ply their trade in low budget indies before Hollywood blockbusters hoover them up and turn them into spandex-clad sci-fi heroes, action stars or, yes, wizards.
For Radcliffe, who was headlining Harry Potter as an 11-year-old, things have gone a little differently. Since JK Rowling’s fantasy film series wound up in 2011, he’s become something of an indie darling, playing beat poet Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings, leading twisted fantasy horror Horns and dipping into the romantic comedy with What If.
His two latest films further cement him as an actor keen to make eclectic choices. Imperium casts him as an FBI agent sent to take down a white supremacist group, while Swiss Army Man has him playing a flatulent reanimated corpse.
“You read a lot that’s very same and not the most inspired, then you read something like Swiss Army Man and it’s insane and inventive and original and weird. The creativity jumps off the page,” Radcliffe told loaded of his selection process.
“Imperium is a lot less of a crazy movie but there was something incredibly tight and well-written about the story and the plot. It was a great script and a great part.”
Both roles required physical commitment from Radcliffe. On Swiss Army Man he did most of his own stunts, contorting his body to play the cadaverous Manny. For Imperium he shaved his head to convince as an undercover neo-Nazi.
“I really like that. That’s the fun part of acting, when you can look in the mirror and see somebody that doesn’t remind you of yourself anymore,” Radcliffe said.
Next up Radcliffe will play Yossi Ghinsberg in Jungle, based on a memoir documenting a perilous trek through the Amazonian jungle.
But don’t rule him out of leaping into a Star Wars or Marvel movie if the chance came along.
“If someone came to me with one of those things and it was good and I was interested then I would totally be up for doing it,” he said.
“But I could also see how from their point of view they might not want somebody who is very recognisably the face of another franchise in their franchise.”
The dream superhero role may have already passed him by, though. Radcliffe has looked on with slight envy as Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and now Tom Holland have all played Marvel’s iconic webslinger.
“It’s been and gone, they’ve done it three times in my lifetime,” he said.
At least he managed to get a stab at the Spidey role at Comic-Con in 2014, when he suited up to walk the floor incognito.
“That was just me living out my childhood dream,” he said.