'What If' Star Daniel Radcliffe Talks Superfans, Football, Lazy Journalists, and Much More
Daniel Radcliffe is known for being one of the most calm and candid actors in show business — especially when it comes to dealing with the press. But toward the end of his decade-long run as Harry Potter, there was one oft-repeated question that tried his patience: Do you feel like your best years are behind you? “That’s all people wanted to talk about,” the 25-year-old actor tells Yahoo Movies. “I was always very determined that there would be a life after Potter for me.”
Post-Potter life for the British actor has included a wide range of roles in films, from the period-horror flick The Woman in Black to the Allen Ginsberg biographical drama Kill Your Darlings. It’s also found Radcliffe drawing strong reviews for his work on stage, including starring roles in the revivals of both Equus (in which he went full monty) and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (in which he proved his mettle as a song-and-dance man).
But Radcliffe’s latest film, What If, may be one of his most unconventional choices yet: A rom-com that attempts to please both starry-eyed optimists and eye-rolling cynics. “It’s romantic, without being too sappy, and it’s genuinely funny,” says Radcliffe says of the film, in which he stars as a man struggling to keep from falling in love with his friend, played by (Ruby Sparks’ Zoe Kazan). We talked to Radcliffe about What If and a variety of other subjects, from bacon to Bieber.
What makes a good romantic comedy?
I think sometimes people skimp on the comedy
and that’s kind of boring. And in most romantic comedies, problems of the heart are always sort of solvable by grand gestures of romance. In real life, it doesn’t really happen that way… In some ways, [What If] is a very traditional romantic comedy, but it also undercuts the tropes of romantic comedy that people fall into a lot.
Do you agree with the argument that Hollywood’s forgotten how to make good romantic comedies?
Yeah, I suppose so. There have been some great films that have come out. When Harry Met Sally is such an iconic movie, and, for a lot of people, it’s like the quintessential romantic comedy. Like with everything in this industry, people struggle with originality. And people get lazy: They think that if you market a film correctly, and if the trailer’s funny enough, then that’s all that counts.
If this film does well, it’s a triumph of good writing. We try and tell both [the male and female] sides of their story. I think there’s a tendency in cinema to not want to show that men go through hurt in [relationships]. There’s pressure on men to not be vulnerable, and that’s why I think it’s hard for men to talk to other men about problems in their life. And that makes it hard in life, because, as a man, most of your friends are men. So if you can’t talk to anybody around you about the stuff going on in your mind, that can be very hard. [In this movie], it’s nice to be able to show both sides of the story.
Do you think you’re a good communicator?
Sometimes. I’m very good at listening to other people’s stuff, but not very good at sharing my own problems, just because I don’t want people worrying about me.
Elvis Presley figures prominently into this movie — or, at least, his favorite sandwich does [Ed. Note: That would be The king’s preferred snack, a peanut butter-banana-and-bacon concoction called Fool’s Gold]. Are you an Elvis fan?
I love his sandwiches [Laughs]. I like the music a lot. But I think it’s one of those things where you have to be there at the time to really appreciate what a star he was. There are other [artists] I’d much rather spend a lot of time listening to, for sure.