US interviews - Daniel J Radcliffe Holland


US interviews

All US interviews with Daniel over the phone in promotion of Jungle.


Collider:  When you read this script, did you do so knowing that Yossi was a real person? And what was it that most stood out for you and made you want to sign on?  
DANIEL RADCLIFFE:  First of all, when it’s a true story and you read it and the story is very affecting, you go, “Yeah, I want to be a part of further spreading this story, out into the world. I want to be a part of this story becoming more widely known.” The thing that I find really moving and powerful about it and that really attracted me to it was that I think there’s something really moving about how hard it is to get a human being to give up on their life. He’s up against a jungle and nature and he’s on his own, but it could also apply to somebody in war or battle. The struggle to just keep going is something that I find incredibly moving and powerful, and this sort of story seemed like a wonderful distillation of that into a heightened and intense three-week period. 

Not only were you portraying a real person for this, but that person is alive and was around and available for you to talk to. How did you find that experience to be most beneficial? Were there things that you only could have gotten from Yossi that weren’t in the script?  
RADCLIFFE:  Definitely! He said a really depressing thing about hope, which I’m loathe to keep repeating, even though I have been. I found it fascinating because it never would have been what I’d assumed. I’d been working on the assumption that, when you’re in that situation, the hope that you’ll be found and get out is what keeps you going. But he said, “Actually, no, hope breaks you more than anything else.” He said that the moment he was the lowest, in the three weeks, was the moment a plane flew over and he really, for a second, fully thought that he was going to be rescued, but then the plane kept going and left him. He said he’d been really fine, up until then. He hadn’t been giving into despair, at that point. But to suddenly have hope both given and then taken away in an instant was worse than having never had it, in the first place. That, to me, was a very unexpected thing that you can only get from asking somebody who has lived through this. 

You do really tremendous work in this. There’s a level of intense physicality to this role and you also decided to lose weight, which is shocking to see. What was the most challenging scene for you to shoot and what was the most rewarding scene for you to shoot?RADCLIFFE:  It’s hard to pick a scene that was the most rewarding, only because the shoot, as a whole, was quite a tough shoot, physically, for both me and the whole crew. We were filming in the jungle and it was a three-mile hike into the set, every day, with no roads. We couldn’t get trucks in there, so the camera guys were lugging tons of equipment back and forth, every day, in the heat and humidity. It was a challenging shoot for everybody, so when you complete a shoot like that and you do it together, it gives you a real sense of achievement and it makes you feel very proud to have done it. Some of the hardest stuff to shoot was all of the stuff in and around water. Everything slows down about 50% because of safety, and it’s hard. 

The most heart-breaking moment that I had during the shoot was when we had to postpone the end of the shoot. I tried to lose weight to make myself look more frail and emaciated towards the end and we were filming the last scene that I had to look that way on a Monday. I thought I’d go home that night and have the big, massive chocolate bar in my fridge, along with a steak. And then, the night before we came to film that scene, we got word that the river that our set was next to had flooded and the level of it had raised by eight feet in a night and our set was washed away. So, we had to postpone that scene and I had to postpone my chocolate bar and steak for almost a week. We were almost there and almost done, and it was taken away again. That was a moment where I was like, “Oh, man!” I was slightly heartbroken, at that particular moment. Not that every film I ever do will present physical challenges like this one, but it’s nice, as an actor, to get to the end of the day and feel, physically, like you’ve worked that day. 

When you do a film like this, does it affect what you want to do next? Did you want to go find a light-hearted comedy to do?  
RADCLIFFE:  Yeah, you do get a bit like, “Oh, man, whatever is next, I’m going to find something not quite as harrowing.” Although, I can’t quite remember what the next thing I did was. I guess it would have been Beast of Burden. I remember when I did a movie that was called The F-Word in Canada and England and What If in America, it was a really nice romantic comedy where nobody got covered in blood. Half-way through that, I was like, “This is great! Why don’t I take projects like this, all the time?” But I’m pretty sure I’d get bored with that, too. 

Do you know what you’re going to do next?  
RADCLIFFE:  I’m doing a TV series, starting this year, and I’m pretty sure it will come out next year. It’s my first time doing an American TV series, which I’m excited about. It’s called Miracle Workers, and it’s written and created by a guy called Simon Rich. Lorne Michaels is producing it. If you don’t know Simon’s work, then you have a huge treat ahead of you. He’s written a bunch of short stories and novels that are some of the most fun, wonderful, incredibly funny, but also very beautiful short stories and books. He’s an amazing writer, and he’s assembled a team of amazing writers. If I had something that was the thing I’m most attracted to, it’s really good writing. When you get the chance to work with somebody like that, I’m so excited about it. So hopefully, that will be out next year. I could not be more excited about it.

What kind of character are you playing in that?  
RADCLIFFE:  I don’t want to say. There is a book that the first [season] is based on, called What in God’s Name. The character I play is in that book, but we are changing quite a few things for the series. You can get a sense of my character from that book, but it will be different. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t know how much has been said publicly about any of it, but I’m very excited. 

The folks who work with you, both in front of and behind the camera, talk about your incredible ability to separate being an actor and being a star. Is that something you’ve always been conscious of, or is that something you had to learn, over time?  
RADCLIFFE:  I think it’s something that I’ve gotten a bit better at. Just after we finished Harry Potter and I was doing other things, and people would mention Potter to me, there was a part of me that obviously was very proud, but there was also a part of me that was worried that that meant they didn’t care what I was doing now, and there’s all this stuff going on in your head. Now, I realize how amazingly special the relationship that people have with Potter is. When you meet kids or you meet people and you’ve been a big part of their life, you do have a certain responsibility, even if it’s only a 10-second interaction, to try to give them the best possible experience of you that they can have. I think it’s important. Frankly, it’s one of the coolest thing about my life is that, just by virtue of being me sometimes. I met a kid on the street in London, the other day, with his dad, and they were freaking out and were really happy. I didn’t have to do anything to make that happen. I just had to stand there and not be a dick. When just saying hello to someone is going to make their day a little bit better, that’s nice. I don’t think of myself as a star. I don’t ever frame it in those terms. But I do appreciate the fact that people have a very long-standing relationship with watching me, and I always want to try to honor that, as much as I can. 

Parade magazine

Is this the most taxing and difficult film shoot you’ve ever done? 
Practically speaking, yeah. Absolutely. There were some sets that were a two-mile hike to get through. The poor camera crew had to transport their equipment by hand—and actually by donkey, too. A lot of the camera equipment was going to set by donkeys when we were in Colombia because those were the only animals sturdy enough to traverse the jungle with all that weight on their back. We were filming by rapids, we were filming in tanks full of mud; it was very rare that you got to set and thought, Oh, this is a nice easy day!
It would have felt wrong if it were an easy shoot. I went into this shoot knowing it was going to be tough and demanding, for sure. I could give myself a nice, humbling reminder that a guy actually lived through this and I was going to a hotel every night. You know, don’t complain; it could be worse.

What are some of the biggest challenges you had to go through in preparation for this role?  
One thing was obviously learning the Israeli accent. It’s an accent so different from my own, and so different from any accent I’ve ever done. That was a challenge. One of my pet peeves is when an actor is promoting a thing based on a true story and they talk about how their own process was so hard or whatever. I don’t want to do that because Yossi actually lived through this.
If I were going home to the hotel every night and having steak and chips, it would have made my job a lot harder. So I just kind of stopped eating a lot. I cut down massively on eating just to create that sort of tiredness that goes through your bones when you haven’t eaten properly in a while. Obviously that’s not exactly what Yossi went through, but I found just to get a sense of that was really helpful.
There was one particularly heartbreaking moment for me. I was eating, say, a protein bar every day. Or a chicken breast and a protein bar every day. We were supposed to be filming the final scene on a Monday. In my hotel fridge, I’d saved a massive bar of chocolate and a steak. I had my meal all planned out. Then we got word that a rainstorm caused a river to rise and it washed our set away. The scene had to be postponed for a week, which meant that I was like get the chocolate bar out of my room, I can’t be around it, I’ve got another week to wait!

All of the stuff in the water was very intense to film. We had the best safety crew in the world, and they were amazing. Still, we were filming by a racing river. It required a lot of concentration, and it was quite stressful.

Have you met the real Yossi Ghinsberg? 
Yes! I talked to him on Skype for about four and a half hours in the lead-up to the film. Then Yossi was out with us in Colombia and Australia for a lot of the shoot. I have to say, he was lovely. There’s a lot of ways you could be unhelpful when you’re the real person something is based on walking on to a set. He would have been perfectly within his right to come up between takes and say things like, “I didn’t do it that way,” or “I never said that.” He was really welcoming and generous, and incredibly kind. He was happy the movie was getting made and the story was being told.

What can you tell us about working with Greg McLean?
I really enjoyed working with Greg a huge amount. For the film he had to get made and the conditions he made it in, he always seemed so calm, chill and fun. That’s very useful when you’re shooting a really intense film. He and our director of photography Stefan Duscio were just great. Greg obviously had such an appreciation for the horror moments in the film. Obviously it’s based on a true story, but there are moments that wouldn’t be out of place in a horror film. Having someone with an appreciation for that aspect of the film, as well as the survival element I was talking about just made it clear he had a vision for the film.

Your work on stage and in film in recent years has been so eclectic and adventurous. If it’s possible to even sum up, could you tell us what you look for in a role? 
The thing that most excites me is any kind of originality–something that I haven’t done before. I’m not as excited about scripts that make me feel like I’ve seen it a million times before.
I’ve heard some people say Swiss Army Man is a weird movie or Horns is a weird movie. I don’t think of them as weird choices; they all make perfect sense to me. What I’m really drawn to–and you’re not always going to be able to find it, though I really felt this way about Swiss Army Man— is something that kind of reflects the way I think about the world; compassion and empathy being this force that exists to all of the most positive things that we can possibly portray in film. When you can find films that reflect the way you feel about the world and you feel it’s an important thing to communicate to people, that’s an exciting thing to do.

Metro US

How he judges a film's success

“Honestly, the way I judge how a film has been successful for me is: What was the experience I had on set? Was it good? Did I have a good time? Was I happy? And, am I happy with the final film? I have no control on what people see and what people go and see at the box office. There’s a huge disposition on people judging a film by its opening weekend and whatever. There’s a place for that and that is important.”

“I did ‘Imperium’ a couple of years ago. It came out and did well critically, but it didn’t do huge business, and nor did I expect it to. Then earlier this year I was doing a play, and suddenly everybody was talking to me about ‘Imperium.’ And I was like, ‘What the hell? How has everybody just watched it?’ And I guess it had just come out on Netflix or iTunes.”

“As long as it finds an audience eventually that doesn’t really matter to me. As long as you do good work and make good movies, that for me is its own reward. I’m in a position at the moment where I don’t have to worry about the box office. And I can’t control that so I shouldn’t worry about it. I used to stress about it a lot more but I have moved away from that.”

Digital Trends

You’ve played everyone from Harry Potter to the zombie Manny in Swiss Army Man. What’s the challenge of bringing a real person to life, whether it’s Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings or Yossi Ghinsberg in Jungle?
It’s interesting talking about that, in that you’re right, the most useful comparison is actually Allen Ginsberg – because that’s the other time that I played somebody who was real and actually in the living memory of a lot of people, but not actually alive. I think that’s a huge difference, playing somebody where the resources that you have are things that they wrote a long time ago, which is amazing and is what I had with Allen. In a lot of his poetry and his diary he certainly wore his heart on his sleeve … like he let you into his psyche a lot of the time.

With Yossi, obviously, his book exists, which is a very accurate replaying of what happened in the jungle. But to get a chance to actually get to talk to Yossi, which I did for probably about four-and-a-half hours’ worth of conversation before we started filming, was great. That is the cool thing about being an actor sometimes, you play these roles and you get to talk to these remarkable people about their lives.

What was it like having him on set?
I feel like that could have gone either way. I didn’t know how that was going to be before we started the film, whether he’d be coming in and being like, “Hey, I didn’t do it like that,” or “You’re making me look stupid.” But he was actually really collaborative. He was very happy to be there and help, but he was very aware as well that we were making a movie. So it’s not going to be his entire story. We were condensing over three weeks of his life into a two hour movie. He came to the set with a really great, helpful attitude, where we could turn around to him at any point and say, “Hey man, did you do it like this? How did you do in this situation?” He was a really great resource to have on set.

How did the physical nature of the Harry Potter films help prepare you for what looked like a very grueling and physical shoot in the Australian jungle?
To be honest, the stunts on Potter and the physical nature of Potter have sort of set me up amazingly for a lot of the films I’ve done since. Sometimes the frustrating thing is that I was allowed to do a lot of stunts myself [on Potter] because the stunt coordinator knew me really well and he knew I could do a lot of it and I was up for it. And then going to other sets with people that don’t know you as well, they are understandably a lot more nervous of letting you actually do stuff for yourself.

But on this one, we had a great stunt coordinator and a great stunt double named Toby [Fuller], and they very quickly got that I wanted to do as much as they would let me do. So that was really fun, because I like doing physical stuff.
It’s nice because you don’t always get to feel as an actor that you physically worked at the end of the day, rather than just sat around talking while other people moved lights and heavy pieces of equipment.

Jungle has some intense whitewater sequences.  How did filming those compare to the 41 hours in water that you spent filming Goblet of Fire, and how has your swimming expertise improved since then?
It hasn’t, but fortunately, I haven’t really had to. The water stuff is always hard to film. Like you always slow down by at least 30 percent just because of safety issues and other stuff that starts coming up. But there is also something about being in the rapids for a few hours each day. It was definitely slightly grueling for me and for the crew and for everybody else that was there, but it’s one of those things that gives you a really nice sense of achievement when it’s done. When you’re finished with it and you look around at the camera guys and the other actors, it’s like, “Yeah man, we did that. That was really tough and we got through it.”
Whenever something is really challenging and arduous, those dangers exist, but they also present you with the feeling of accomplishment once you’ve managed to do it. It’s always very much worth it.

Were you much of a hiker or outdoorsman before this film project came about, and how has it changed your perspective on Mother Nature?
No, I was not, and I don’t think I would be. That’s the thing about what happened to Yossi that was completely amazing — he didn’t end up hating nature. He said for the first week he was there, he viewed nature and the jungle as an enemy that was trying to kill him, and then at a certain point he let go of that and was able to see himself as being a part of nature. And while there was a lot of pain and anguish and loneliness while he was in the jungle, he also had some of the most serene and joyous moments of his life there. That’s remarkable for him.

I don’t think that I would get the same thing out of it. I think if I had survived three weeks in the jungle I would never have gone back to the jungle. But Yossi went back and made his life there for several more years. And he actually focused his life on saving the jungle that had almost ended his life. I don’t know if I would have had the same sort of very positive feelings about the outdoors if I had been in Yossi’s situation.

You’ve played a lot of very different characters on the big screen and on stage since the last Harry Potter film. What do you look for in accepting new acting challenges?
I know this sounds like it would be simplistic and obvious, like who wouldn’t be looking for that, but originality is the main thing. When I read Swiss Army Man or Horns, there was just that sense of, “Oh, I’ve never seen something like this before. That’s really cool. That’s really exciting. Let’s do it.”  That gets me very excited. And even if it’s not something that is completely original to the world of film, but it’s something that I feel I haven’t done before, or a theme or a character that I haven’t had a chance to play before, that can be really exciting.

I think it’s fairly well-documented about me now that I like weird. Weird is good. And I like stuff that sometimes demands a little more of an audience. I’m thinking of Swiss Army Man specifically in that case, in terms of you needing to take a little bit of a leap into the world that we’re inhabiting as an audience member. But if you do, then it becomes incredibly rewarding as a film to watch. So I suppose that’s the kind of stuff I respond to, just like the chance to do something different.

And Jungle definitely was a different role for you.
Yeah, absolutely. Jungle was and Swiss Army Man both were, and I’m going to try and keep things as fresh that way as I possibly can.

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