When news got around that Daniel Radcliffe was playing poet Allan Ginsberg in a film about the Beat poets of the Forties, the headlines trumpeted: Harry Potter in gay sex scene.
The actor is quite sanguine about it. “I think that was to be expected, I would have been a fool to imagine anything other. I always say if that’s what gets them into see this then that’s not all they will be talking about afterwards. it doesn’t matter the reasons people go and see a film as long as they go and see it.”
The now 24-year-old actor has played a variety of adventurous roles on stage and screen to show there is more to him than that bespectacled wizard. Here he plays Ginsberg in his college years at Columbia University in 1944, where he falls in love with charismatic classmate Lucien Carr. The film tells a previously untold story of a murder which they and fellow Beats Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs were caught up in (see review below).
And it was the story which attracted Radcliffe.”The fact you had these three major figures in American literature who were involved in this incredibly bizarre story and no one has ever told it. It was a great opportunity for me personally to show something different.”
Radcliffe said he wasn’t a particular fan of Allen Ginsberg. “I became a fan of the character in the script because in many ways he was the most innocent and vulnerable going into the story and I think the script shows he is the character who had the biggest journey in terms of the change in his character.
“John Krokidas the director asked us not to do any research about their lives after the period in which the film takes place because there’s no point. W e weren’t dealing with that and also there is the danger of what happened afterwards informing how you play him as a 17-year-old. I read his diaries which are a fantastic insight into what he was at that age.”
And he looks nothing like Ginsberg in reality. “In terms of physicality I would not be on top of anyone’s list to play him. What I found tremendously helpful was the hair. If anyone is wondering it was a perm. And the contacts as well. And they did something to my lips because Ginsberg had very full lips - and seeing yourself like that does help and I also stayed in the accent all day long and it started to be embedded in me and not feel like something I had to stick on at the beginning of the day. This is the film far and away I find easiest to watch myself in because I don’t look like myself.”
Does he feelpressure when choosing parts to ensure he can bring along the audiences from Harry Potter? “None. I just pick the films that I feel excited about. A lot of Potter fans came to see me in Equus and it’s not going to get much more extreme than simulating sex with a horse on stage.”