Daniel Radcliffe on Swiss Army Man, acting and directing

Hi Film Folk,

Read actor Daniel Radcliffe‘s thoughts on crafting his new dark, comedy drama Swiss Army Man.
 

Daniel Radcliffe as Manny in Swiss Army Man
Daniel Radcliffe as Manny in Swiss Army Man

(The following interview comes from a Q and A hosted by Jason Solomons at Picturehouse Central).

 

So how did you end up doing the film?

I read the logline and it said something like ‘a suicidal man goes on a journey with a dead body’. Paul was already cast and so I was intrigued. I started laughing on the second page and thought it was insane.

I kept on reading until about page 17 when he came to life – wondering what everybody wonders watching it, if it’s more than just a dead guy.

It was a weird cross between Beckett and the Farrelly brothers and I just had to do it.

 
 

Would you have taken the part if there was no talking?

I can’t say for sure either way. People might have been saying – and I might have asked myself – why did you do it if there’s no talking?! (laughs)




It definitely is such a weird and interesting idea – what drew you to it?

A lot of scripts have weird or interesting ideas behind them but most of them are rubbish. This one on the page executed those ideas really well and that’s what attracted me to it.




How did you act as a corpse? How did the dynamic work on set?

We did have a science journalist review the film. None of it’s possible of course. The human body couldn’t take it.

A lot of what I did came down to giving Paul the support he needed. We’d have a chat about what I could do physically to make his life easier while shooting because often he’s holding me up. I tried not to be a physical burden. As the film went on it became natural.

 


 

So what was it like being directed by two directors? That must have been weird.

Well yes at first you do think “what if one comes up and says one thing and the other comes up and says something different?” but it wasn’t like that. They always thought the same thing. And that’s probably because they argued for 6 months before the shoot (laughs).

One of the Daniels would direct me a little more and the other would direct Paul a little more but it was great.

Really great directors harness the energy that their cast and crew have – not all directors do that and people can be scared to suggest things – but that’s the great thing about them. Everybody could chime in.

There was no real hierarchy on set. It all felt together. The set was full of the directors’ old friends from college, short film sets and music videos so there was a real sense of togetherness.

 




 
 

Where was the shoot?

California, outside of Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s actually the first shoot I’ve done in California and it was great fun.

 

And the score is great too..

Yes well it’s funny because the Daniels worked with Robert on a music video years ago and on this he composed music before the shoot started which never ever happens in film. So we could hear the music on set for certain scenes.

 

Daniel Radcliffe in Swiss Army Man
Daniel Radcliffe in Swiss Army Man
Daniel Radcliffe as Manny in Swiss Army Man
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The film is about a corpse coming to life. If you could resurrect any of your favourite actors to work with who would they be?

Peter Sellers. Dr. Strangelove is one of my favourite films of all time. David Niven. A Matter of Life is also one of my favourites.

 
 

You’re making some interesting projects right now, similar to the kind of path Paul Dano has taken as an actor. Would you direct like Paul is?

Thank you for saying so. I’m trying to do interesting work. I’m not announcing anything just yet (laughs) but I do aim to direct in the future.

 
 

 

 

 

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