Radcliffe conjures brave new role as gay poet Ginsberg
Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t mind hearing that schoolgirls were staking him out at the Sundance Film Festival, hoping for a Harry Potter sighting.
In fact, Radcliffe is happy if his Potter fame conjures up interest for what he wants to do with the rest of his career, such as his bold turn as young gay poet Allen Ginsberg in the Sundance premiere “Kill Your Darlings.”
Radcliffe goes nude for an explicit sex scene with another man, makes out with co-star Dane DeHaan and also appears in another sex scene with a clerk in a library while DeHaan’s character looks on.
As with his Broadway debut in “Equus,” which also featured a nude scene, Radcliffe said his celebrity from the boy wizard franchise might draw in fans who would not have seen a film such as “Kill Your Darlings.”
“I don’t care why people come and see films. If they come and see a film about the beat poets because they saw me in ‘Harry Potter,’ fantastic. That’s a wonderful thing,” Radcliffe said in an interview alongside DeHaan. “I feel like I have an opportunity to capitalize on ‘Potter’ by doing work that might not otherwise get attention. If I can help get a film like this attention, that’s without doubt, that’s a great thing.”
“Kill Your Darlings” recounts a little-known chapter in the life of Ginsberg, who met Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster) at Columbia University during World War II.
DeHaan plays Ginsberg’s early idol and infatuation Lucien Carr, whose relationship with an obsessive older man (Michael C. Hall) involves the future beat-generation icons in a seamy murder case.
In the course of the film, Ginsberg comes to embrace his homosexuality. Hall said he hopes “Harry Potter” fans can come to embrace Radcliffe in the role and “expand their definition of what a magic wand might be.”
“Kill Your Darlings” director John Krokidas said Radcliffe hurled himself into the role and treated the nudity and gay love scenes as another part of the job, with no qualms or anxiety.
“None! None! None!” said Krokidas, who is gay and so became Radcliffe’s coach in same-sex love-making.
“Radcliffe simply asked, ‘John, you’re gay. How does this work?’” Krokidas said. “I’m not kidding. And so perhaps there was a little dry run-through – oh, she’s going to kill me – with me and the director of photography Reed Morano.
“I might have done it on purpose to make everyone laugh, too, but I also wanted to make sure that we got it right. And other films that have depicted certain moments of sexuality like this, it doesn’t happen that way. And at least for cinematic history, I wanted to get that moment right. But Dan watched, observed, found his own connection like he did any other scene and dove right into it.”
“Kill Your Darlings” premiered last week at Sundance’s main theater, which is adjacent to a high school where classes were just letting out for the day. A group of teenage girls rushed from the school to the back of the theater, trying to determine where Radcliffe and his co-stars would be coming in and out.
Some stars grow to resent that sort of fan attention resulting from past roles, feeling it overshadows the work they’re doing now. So far, Radcliffe seems to see nothing but good things coming out of “Harry Potter.”
“There was a generation of people who maybe wouldn’t have gone to see a production of ‘Equus,’ had I not been in it, that came to see ‘Equus,”” Radcliffe said. “Even if they came for the wrong reasons, you know, we got them there, and they stayed, and they watched. And they stayed for the right reasons.”