TORONTO – Daniel Radcliffe grew a mustache, put on a well-curled wig and Hawaiian shirts and even learned the accordion to play “Weird Al” Yankovic in a new comedy biopic.
However, it’s the real Yankovic (and not Radcliffe) who sings the lyrics of the 1980s musical icon’s song parodies, including “My Bologna” (after The Knack’s “My Sharona”) and “Eat It” (after Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” ), even though the “Harry Potter” star performed on Broadway.
“I wasn’t particularly like, ‘Oh, no, I want to sing these songs,’” Radcliffe, 33, tells Thursday, hours before “Weird” (streaming on the Roku Channel Nov. 4) had a Midnight MAcesparksess world premiere. at the Toronto International Film Festival. “On set, I was singing more or less full out. Because I find it very hard to lip sync when you are trying to give the full performance. But we want the full trope of the other person’s voice clearly coming out of this person’s mouth.”
‘Her life must have been misery’:Daniel Radcliffe drove his girlfriend mad learning ‘Weird’ accordion
Fittingly, “Weird” is a parody of musical biopics such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Rocketman,” sticking loosely to the script of Yankovic’s real-life childhood and rise, “then halfway through it turns and now we’re off on our own insane thing,” Radcliffe says. He prefers the more gonzo approach: “You can throw this back in my face in a few years when you’re interviewing me for a traditional music biopic, but a lot of the time traditional biopics of any figure where you are trying to take an entire life and condense it, they never really feel satisfying to me.”
The film runs through most of Yankovic’s greatest hits, and Radcliffe is still earwormed – or as he puts it, “pleasantly haunted” – by them.
“The whole crew, whatever the last musical number we had done basically was, you would hear everybody just going around humming it for the rest of the day.” And there are easter eggs to various aspects of Weird Al’s pop-culture career. The in-shape Radcliffe spends quite a number of scenes shirtless, seemingly a throwback to the muscle suit Yankovic wore in the 1989 comedy movie “UHF” to poke fun at Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo.
While being impressively ripped “would’ve been a slightly strange but maybe funny choice,” that’s also just how Radcliffe rolls these days. “My parents are both CrossFit people. They’re in their 60s and they still do that. And I’m the classic example of a person who stopped drinking and transferred that energy onto (fitness),” says the British actor.
Just hours after the announcement of Queen Elizabeth’s death, he calls it “inconceivable right now. Me and my parents have never known a country without her as the queen. I just can’t picture or imagine what that world is yet.”
In addition to Yankovic, other, exaggerated versions of real figures in “Weird” include Madonna (played by Evan Rachel Wood), Oprah Winfrey (Quinta Brunson) and Yankovic’s mentor, radio host Dr. Demento (Rainn Wilson). “Parts of this movie (are) like ‘The Muppet Movie,'” Radcliffe says. “Al was pretty much able to cast this film by just going, ‘Hey, would you like to go and work for me, your childhood hero, for half a day in LA’? There’s very few people that will say no.”
While he didn’t get to belt out his own versions of Yankovic’s anthems, Radcliffe is singing again: He starts rehearsals in mid-October for a production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along,” scheduled to open in December, but Radcliffe’s “ doing work on my own with it at the moment” in. New York, he says. “There’s no way I can go into a Broadway show and just walk into rehearsals. The only thing that can control my anxiety in the run-up is if I’m doing work on it. It’s still at a nice phase where it’s far enough away and I’m not panicking, but it’s something to work on.”
However, Radcliffe’s loyal fans shouldn’t hold their collective breath for a solo album. “I get sick of actors who are in bands. Not all of them; There are some that are amazing, like (Jack Black in) Tenacious D. There are people who do it really well but I don’t think the world needs another actor (turned singer).” By appearing in the 2011 Broadway musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and the “Swiss Army Man” movie soundtrack, “you get to dip your toe in without actually doing it.”