Azcentral Q&A - Daniel J Radcliffe Holland


Azcentral Q&A

Q&A with Daniel in promotion of Swiss Army Man.

Question: If nothing else, you can say this is the kind of movie we’ve never seen before.
Answer: Isn’t that right? That was my reaction when I read it. Everyone’s been asking me, "When you read the script, didn’t you think it was like the craziest thing ever?" And I was like, "No, I didn’t." I was just unbelievably grateful to be reading something that was genuinely original. …Unique voices genuinely do stand out. That was one of the things I was most excited about.

Q: It’s also nice that you guys go all the way, no half measures, with the concept.
A: Yeah, exactly. “Oh, it’s all a dream.” No, no. This stuff is happening. That was always my favorite. People say, “So, how much of the movie is real, and what’s your theory on what Manny represents?” I’m just like, "He’s not a representation. It’s really happening." That’s my take on it. It’s magical realism, and it’s a movie, so we can have a dead guy who’s talking.

Q: Did you have any hesitation about the script?
A: It wasn’t like a tough sell at all. I read the script and I was like, I get how this movie’s going to be funny, and I get how it’s going to be moving, as well. What I didn’t quite get was... how (expletive) epic this movie looked. … Sometimes it’s nice to not know how something’s going to work out and take a chance. It could be terrible or amazing, but I think we’re going to have a lot of fun finding out. That’s my attitude.

Q: Despite Manny’s weirdness, the film is reliant on the performances.
A: There’s the germ of an idea in that script that is so brilliant. … On the one hand, it’s so stupid and so perverse and just ludicrous. And on the other hand, it’s meaningful and sweet and very earnest. So yeah, the idea that a film could exist that has all those seemingly contradictory things is valid.

Q: The audience has to be invested in the two guys, or it just doesn’t work.
A: You’re absolutely right. You’ve got to care about the characters, ultimately. The character of Manny was a very easy one for me to carry about. There’s a natural sweetness to Manny. The idea of this dead guy who’s come back to life and is just so excited to be getting a little bit more time to be alive again, to learn about the world. He’s so sweet and so weird. And you go, “Where and ever am I going to be offered the chance to play the world’s most cheerful dead guy ever again?” You go, “Never.” I feel like at that point, if you get offered something that you may never get offered to do again for the rest of your life, you should probably take it with both hands.

Q: Actors always want to play dying scenes. You get to play someone who’s already dead.
A: Yeah. Not only do I get to play somebody who’s already dead, but is also not a zombie. I liked to discover, what does that mean? What does it mean to be already dead but to still be talking? How would that work itself out? And honestly, working out some of those themes was one of the big challenges of the film. But you stick very close to the directors and realize the Daniels knew exactly what they wanted. You have to rely on them and trust them and trust that they won’t let you go wrong.

Q: Your voice is strange in the film, and your face is bizarre.
A: I got lucky in that I can do this weird thing with my eye, where I lower the top lid of one eye, but just the top lid. I thought everyone could sort of do that. And then I showed it to the directors. Basically, the way I prepared for this film was me making faces in the mirror and practicing various degrees of the voice and then shooting little videos, and I’d send it to the Daniels and they’d write back and say, “That’s cool, try this.” That kind of stuff. I sent them the one with me practicing my weird eye. And they were like, “Do that! That’s good.” You never know. Like the weird facial stuff, I think it’s something I used to do when I was pulling faces in the mirror when I was a kid. You never know when it’ll come in handy.

Q: It was definitely creepy.
A: Oh, good.

Q: Some of the physical stuff makes it look like you could have used an on-set chiropractor.
A: Yeah, you’d think so. But, touch wood, I’m quite durable at the moment. You can bend me and stretch me and throw me around, and at the moment, I still tend to bounce back up. But I took kind of a perverse pleasure in making things look super painful. Like if someone came up to me at the end of the day and said, “Hey, are you OK?” that would make my day. I love the physical aspects of it, and the more I was able to do it myself, the better. I’m proud, actually, of how little we used the dummy in the making of this film. I don’t know how to explain it. I don’t really think about it. I just sort of do it and worry about it later.

Q: Your character’s relationship with Dano’s has to evolve, because Manny is like a newborn.
A: Totally. He just wakes up and he’s a complete blank slate and wants to learn as much about the world as he possibly can, and annoying Paul, like, peppering him with questions. But I feel like Paul and my relationship developed very quickly because we sort of knew it had to. We knew we would be getting physically very intimate, which happened very early on in the film. I feel like from day one of the filming, he was running my teeth down his face to shave, and on day two, he was rubbing his spit on my face to show my character what sweating was like. We were like, we’re going to have to get real comfortable with each other.

Q: Neither of you overplay your roles.
A: Yeah, I feel you have to feel grounded in reality. Otherwise, you’d be like, what the (expletive) is going on?

Q: There’s still some of that.
A: Oh yeah, there’s plenty of that. But yeah.

Q: So I feel like they’d take my movie-critic card away if I didn’t ask a “Harry Potter” question.
A: Go for it.

Q: The thing is, I don’t really have one. Are you sick of being asked about it?
A: I’m really not. Everyone expects me to be. People come up to me and say, “I’m a really big fan of ‘Harry Potter’ ” and they say it as if I’m going to leap down their throat and say, “Never talk to me about that.” But I’m immensely proud of those films, and they were — they are — a huge part of my life. So I’m definitely not at the place yet where I don’t appreciate people’s enthusiasm for those films. I haven’t lost sight of how lucky I was to be a part of that. It’s not something that I am tired of, particularly because I’ve been able to do other cool work that I’m really proud of, really pleased with. … Nobody would know who the (expletive) I was if it wasn’t for “Harry Potter.” I never want to be one of those people who (expletive) on the thing that made them.


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