Broadway Direct interview - Daniel J Radcliffe Holland


Broadway Direct interview

Website Broadway Direct caught up with Daniel and Bobby Cannavale when The Lifespan of a Fact was still in rehearsal.
“I was very excited about this play because it is about ideas and it is also very, very funny,” says Radcliffe. “The dialogue is incredibly snappy and fun, and the topic is really challenging and interesting.”

“Some of my favorite memories of going to the theatre growing up are debating the play with my mum and dad while driving home afterward,” he recalls. “We would have a big conversation about what we saw — what it was about, who was right, and whose side we were on. This play should hopefully provoke a really healthy debate. The issue of truth versus fact is not something that comes up in people’s lives consciously every day, but, actually, once you start really examining it, you certainly see that it affects everyone,” he adds. “Everyone has a different relationship to the truth and to memory.”
In much the same way that some facts in the original piece written by D’Agata underwent transformation, the actors became aware that actual details about the writer and the fact-checker had been embellished as well.
“I think when they had the idea to write the book — well, for the book to be interesting — I think they invented a much more antagonistic relationship with each other than was probably true in reality,” says Radcliffe.

Cannavale concurs: “They’d be the first ones to admit that they weren’t really at each other’s throats. They both recognized that they were, in their own words, nerds, and they sort of grooved on each other. They were both good with language. What they created made for better drama.”
The play, of course, ratchets this drama a up notch or two.
“It’s like Being John Malkovich or something! It is this hyperdramatized version of these two guys and the experience that they had.” Says Radcliffe, “The play uses the book’s discussion and a lot of the specific points that Jim raises in fact-checking John’s essay, and reframes them in a very fictional, probably much more dramatic, context than it was in real life.”
On embracing their character
“I’ve fallen in love with my character, Jim, and his point of view,” says Radcliffe. “I do really think there is something noble and essential about fact-checking. I was surprised to learn that in recent years not every book or article is fact-checked. There is something impressive about people who are dedicated to finding a kind of neutral, unbiased, objective truth in something; it seems like an impossible job.”
Referring to Jim’s copious 130 pages of fact-checking notes for a 15-page essay, he adds:
“OK, he surely didn’t need to do all this, but it makes a fine character in the play because he is completely uncompromising. I have a lot of respect for his diligence, his intelligence, and the idea that you don’t have to tell half-truths to write something beautiful, that truth is beautiful in and of itself.”
“I think at first he (Bobby as John) is just very irritated by my character,” says Radcliffe, who takes a more conceding approach toward the conflict.

“Over the course of the play John probably comes to have a grudging respect for Jim’s intelligence and drive and relentlessness, but I don’t think he ever comes around to really liking him,” says the actor. “It is an adversarial relationship, but I actually think that Jim can see the side of John’s writing that is art and where art sometimes has to diverge from being completely factually accurate.”

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