TWIST Chats with Daniel Radcliffe about The Woman in Black!


Hey TWIST readers,

We recently hung out with Daniel Radcliffe in NYC, where we talked about his first post-Harry Potter movie, The Woman in Black! Dan plays Arthur in the scary thriller, which comes out Feb. 3. We talked about the movie, his run in the Broadway play How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (Glee star Darren Criss has taken over his role, and Nick Jonas will take over after that!), his Harry Potter pals and more! Check out our exclusive interview with Dan below!

TWIST: When did you shoot The Woman in Black? Daniel: About a year ago after Potter 7 had finished entirely, and before I came to New York to do How To Succeed. So it was filmed from September to early December in 2010. I read the script for Woman in Black about 2 hours after doing my last shot on Potter.

TWIST: So you were in a complete daze. Daniel: That's why, when I was doing press for Potter, everyone was like, 'Aw, you must be really sad', and I was like, 'Yeah, but I was reading a script for hopefully another job like two hours later.' So I was quite excited as well. I was shown the script in late July of 2010, and rather than it just being a horror story, it's character-driven and, in theory, it should also be moving as well as terrifying. So we saw an opportunity to make a horror film that was terrifying, but also kind of poignant and tragic and sad, which is not always a combination you have, so that was what was so interesting about it.

TWIST: Did you feel a lot of pressure to find the first big project after Harry Potter? Why was this the project? Daniel: One of the many reasons this seemed perfect was because it was a different kind of part. The part was great because it was an older part and I'm playing older than I normally have, which is different for people. I'm playing a father, which is a bit of a leap for some people. I think we put Arthur's age at about 24 or 25 with a 5 year old son, which is completely conceivable in modern day, and even more so in the late 1800s. It was perfect in that sense, but it also wasn't so different that people were going to start saying, 'Oh, he's now just trying to hard to separate himself' and all that rubbish. What was brilliant about it for me was the fact that it was a great part, but the story was the focus rather than the part. It couldn't just have been a great part with some really big acting challenges. I want to do a film where people get involved in the film, not about me. And that, for me, is what people will like about this film. They might be going in thinking 'Oh, we're going to see Harry Potter do his new film,' but like 10 minutes in, they're going just really not care about any of that and are just going to watch the film for what it is... This script came in and had a really cool, young, exciting director attached to it with a screenwriter who I'm a big fan of. It's the same thing when I was doing Equus. I was in a rehearsal room and some newspaper article had come out in England. one particular publication that is always very generous with me said, something like: "Crash! What's that? The sound of a career coming to a grinding halt!" Something like that, something like really, really harsh and uncalled for.

TWIST: We hope you cut that one out. Daniel: I'm sure we've kept it somewhere. Because when I was in Equus and that article came out, I looked around the room and was like, 'Wow, if I'm screwing up here, I'm screwing up with some great people around!' So that's kind of the principle I work on. Like everything at this stage that I do will come under criticism and will be a bit of a risk no matter what the part is, [no matter] how safe or how dangerous or how it's perceived as being. But you just have to surround yourself with people that you think you're going to learn from.

TWIST: Can you give up the rundown of the movie? Daniel: Essentially what the film is about as a whole, if you want to take the horror element out, is about people dealing with grief and loss, and is about how death affects different people. Everybody in the story has been affected by death: Arthur's lost his wife, Sam, Ciarán's Hinds' character, has lost this son and his wife too. And it's about how they both deal with it in different ways. Ciarán is in complete denial about the circumstances around his son's death, whereas his wife channels her dead son and believes that she communicates with him through séances and allowing his spirit to come into her, which of course Sam Daily, Ciarán's character, thinks of as being a lot of babble and rubbish and not possible and all of that. And as the film goes on, you kind of learn that he might be mistaken.

TWIST: Can you talk a little bit about your character and how you approached playing him? Daniel: Arthur is somebody who is completely disconnected. He can't look into his son's face without being immediately reminded of the love of his life, who died at such a young age. There are such conflicted emotions about his son and about the world that he has become very, very detached and is just walking around in that think fog of depression. He's completely disenchanted with the world. In terms of how I prepared for it, I had a few sessions with somebody that [director] James [Watkins] recommended to me. Kind of a coach to talk to me about stillness and how minimal one can be. Because Arthur is not going to be a particularly expressive character, particularly in the beginning of the film. We worked on just trying to have a slightly - because I'm a very high-energy person - to, you know, cut that basically. That was the main challenge for me; to not being so bloody hyper all the time.

TWIST: How was it for you playing a father for the first time? Daniel: Well, actually I cheated, I cheated. I got my godson to play my son. We auditioned a load of kids, and many of them where very, very good. But before we did the auditions, I said to James, 'Look, my godson and I get on really, really well. He's 5 years old. We could audition him, just because playing a father while you are not a father is probably quite hard because you still have to establish a relationship with those kids, and you've got to look natural with them.' And I was worried, given that it was going to be such a short shooting period, there wouldn't be any time to establish any kind of a report with a kid, so I said to James, "Why don't you audition Misha?" And he came in and he was just great and sweet and looked brilliant on camera. And because there was already that natural chemistry there, he was just more comfortable, so that helped a lot.

TWIST: So you've always been part of his life? Daniel: Yes, and I got him a job on a film. He keeps referring to is as like, 'that game we played," because that's how I sold it to him at the time. We were on a night shoot and it was like 10 p.m. and it was cold and he was not happy and not having any of it. He just wanted to go home. So I was like, "Misha, no it's ok, we'll make it a game! I really need you to help me by doing this." So he thinks he's doing me a favor, which is awesome. But he's now got a really great attitude towards it, because he's now just fantastically arrogant about it. Like, he'll say to me when we talk about the film, he'll go, "Yes, I'm probably going to be better than you in the film." And I'm like, "Yes Misha, you probably are!" He's fantastic.

TWIST: You've mentioned that grief and loss were essential theme in The Woman in Black and one could argue that those are certainly major elements in Harry Potter. So consciously or unconsciously, would you say that you drew any connections between the two parts preparing for this--coming off one, going into the other. Daniel: No, not at all. I think that those kinds of themes are kind of archetypal in a way, so those themes are in everything I suppose. I certainly didn't see it as being too much of a connection between this and Harry Potter. Actually, it's interesting because I think Harry and Arthur deal with loss in very, very different ways, and also the loss is totally different from a parent to a wife. Not that one is greater than the other or less so, but it's a different relationship losing a parent at the age of ten than losing your lover in the first flush of your youth still, you know? That's devastating, I imagine. But also, there's a sense of injustice with both characters, which spurs Harry to action but Arthur into kind of inaction just being incapacitating by it.

TWIST: There was talk of you being in Seth Rogan's movie, the apocalypse movie.
Daniel: There was talk of that, but I'm not sure what's happening. I would love to work with those guys in the future, absolutely.

TWIST: I think everybody's waiting for you to do a comedy. Daniel: I think they are. I would love to. [I have] lots of things lined up for next year and one of them is very funny. So it could happen. I'm going to take the easy way out and make a couple of films next year because Broadway's way too much like hard work.

TWIST: That's the easy way out? Daniel: Oh yeah, film is definitely the easy way out! The hours are longer, but it's not nearly as intense. I'd like to pack next year with films, ideally. And I would love to do a comedy, because I'm much better at that. Well, I think I am anyway.

TWIST: Backing up a little to when we were talking about How To Succeed, Darren Criss is going to follow you for a little bit, and then Nick Jonas. Do you have thoughts on the casting or do you have advice for them for approaching the role? Daniel: No, not at all. I would never dare to give advice. Since he is the guy who's going to be replacing me, there is one joke that I have to tell Darren Criss that I was told by Matthew Broderick, who was given it by Roberts Morse. Every Finch on Broadway will now have had this one joke, which I quite like the idea of. I've became aware of Darren Criss when I knew he was going to be coming onto the show. I think he'll do a great job. I'm kind of slightly disappointed for him, since he only gets to do it for three weeks. After 7 months, that I'm really, really happy with the show, but it takes a while because you've got to find where all the nuances and stuff is. It's hard, but I think he'll do a great job, I really do.

TWIST: Were you still doing all the dance training while filming Woman in Black? Daniel: Yes. I did like the five or six days a week on Woman in Black, and then on the day off, I do three hours of dance just to keep it fresh and keep it going. Then I do two hours of singing in the afternoon. I started dance lessons at the beginning of last year with How to Succeed in mind, but I've had singing lessons for ages just because I enjoy it.

TWIST: So now that you're talking you're break, are you ever going to go back to Broadway? Daniel: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah! Absolutely. I definitely want Broadway to be a part of my career for as long as it will have me.

TWIST: Are there certain roles you've been eyeing? Daniel: No, not particularly. I'd love to do Shakespeare, but what I'd love to do more than anything else is a new play. That's the one really creative process that I've not been involved in yet. I've never done a new play, and people say that's just an amazing thing to do, because when you're in there and it's still evolving as you're doing it, it's very exciting.

TWIST: Would you have a hand in writing it? Daniel: Unlikely.

TWIST: How was it returning to doing six days a week, eight shows a week on Broadway? You've done it before, but it must be very different than being on a movie set. Daniel: It is. On a movie set, you do silly hours, but for most of that time, you're just sitting around chatting, so it's much easier going. With eight Broadway shows a week, you get so much time off during the day that there's absolutely no reason that you should be tired, but for some reason, it's hard to have the mental energy to get up to the place you need to be. I've heard somebody say this once: "It's having an appointment with inspiration every night at 8." No matter what you're feeling or how crappy your day might have been, particularly at such a happy show, I've got to be ready to go at 7 or 8, whatever the time the show is. And it's tiring. I'm not tired now, and what I have been amazed by is the fact that I'm still excited to go to work. When I was doing Equus, it was such a kind of torturous, mental thing that by the time it got to the end of five months I was like, "I am done. I want to go, I am ready now." But with How to Succeed, this is the longest run I've ever done for a show and I'm still very, very excited to go to work everyday. But it's because I get to play around with [co-star] John Larroquette and just screw around and do mad stuff. And also, I get to pretend I can dance for two and a half hours. I can't dance a step outside the show, but for two and a half hours, people think I can dance, which is great.

TWIST: I find it hard to believe that you can't dance. Daniel: I promise you I can't outside the show. I really can't. I've just learned the choreography and sell it. I'm one of those people who hates those people who play six instruments and speak two languages, and they're an architect and their an actor and their everything. I sit and think, "Gosh, you're annoying, you're so talented." Then people come back and say that about me, so now it's in my head like, "Ah, maybe just everyone else is faking it as well. Maybe really actually no one's really good at anything, but we're all just faking it nicely."

TWIST: Are you going to stay in New York? Daniel: I do have an apartment here in New York, which it makes life very easy when I come to the city, but I'll go home. London's my home. I do miss it.

TWIST: Is getting behind the camera a priority for you? Daniel: Absolutely! I suppose in the next 10 years. I'll probably set myself that goal; having directed something in the next 10 years. I would definitely want to direct at some point in the future. I feel like I, you know, having 10 years growing up on a film set, there's very little that happens on a film set that phases me. I feel very comfortable on a film set, and I've love to do it. I think I'd possibly enjoy dealing with actors more if I got to boss them around, that's the other thing.

TWIST: You're Potter costars came to your shows and whatnot. What was it like when they saw you dancing a dance? Daniel: Yeah, I think there were quite surprised. My friend came back and he'd just seen me on stage for two and a half hours, and before I had said anything, I was holding a bottle of water and I totally forgot that I hadn't put the lid on, and I went to hug and threw water everywhere and he was like, "Oh yes, that's the Dan I know! Not this coordinated person onstage - more of the tangled mess of limbs backstage, that's better!" I don't think they can quite believe it, that I'm doing it up there. But then again, neither can I. We're all just very supportive of each other, like you would suspect. Rup's [Rupert Grint] just been finishing a film, Tom's [Tom Felton] got loads of films coming out as well as Planet of the Apes, Emma [Watson], I think, is now finishing doing Perks of Being a Wallflower. Everyone's gone off and doing their own thing, and Matt's [Matthew Lewis] been touring with a play in England, and everyone's doing stuff, so it's great!

TWIST: You guys all still keep in touch? Daniel: Absolutely, yes!

TWIST: Going back to Woman in Black: I'm curious, it's such a dark sounding film quite obviously. Was the mood like that on set at all? Did that filter in? Daniel: It was funny; we had a great time! This was the thing - that when we finished Potter, there was like this mass film crew going to War Horse, X-Men, Woman in Black, Captain America and Hugo. And they were all really, really hard, big movies like, with occasionally some very difficult people working on them. I know one can quite believe it, but we had a great time on Potter, and suddenly they went off and were like, "Wow, real film work's hard. People are tough here, and we're not doing = short hours anymore. What is this?" But Woman in Black was just great because all the people that went from Potter to Woman in Black - we were loving it. We had the same same props team, the second unit assistant director team from Potter came onto Woman in Black. Loads of people were on it, so it was quite familiar, but there were also loads of people I didn't know.,, You know, that creates a good atmosphere, so it was actually a pleasure to work on.

Photo: Courtesy of CBS Films

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