DanRad : Why Americans think Englishmen are gay

Daniel Radcliffe took time to speak with Esquire and Out Magazine about Kill Your Darlings, love, nudity, sex and sexuality.

Photobucket

Everyone’s talking about your gay sex scene with Dane DeHaan. But you seem very cool about it. You’ve already gotten naked onstage in Equus. You don’t seem squeamish about sex.

I’m of the opinion: You take the job, you read the script. I was on set once for a nude scene with an actress who knew what was going on and then had a panic about the sex scene. I remember thinking, You knew this was coming and now you’re slowing down the shoot. It’s as if I’d read this script, then said, on set, “Oh, actually can we just kiss and cuddle?” like an idiot. “Can I keep my trousers on for the sex scene?” I mean, it’s in the script. It’s in the script, you take the job. I’m not massively squeamish about sex at all. It happens.

And yet people are still shocked by Harry Potter doing it.

It’s shocking by the sheer fact that it’s me. Otherwise, it’s entirely unshocking that I’m playing Allen Ginsberg in a film about self and sexual discovery, and there’s a sex scene. As my costar Dane DeHaan said, people are often attracted to each other and people who are attracted to each other often want to have sex. I’m just happy that it’s a well-done scene. John had never seen the version of that scene that he wanted: gay sex in a film that felt very real. He wanted to achieve that and he did. It’s also led to friends texting me amusing lines from reviews, which have really made me laugh.

Like what?

One very cool one said something like, “The sex scene will probably be called graphic because it’s between two men, but it isn’t.” Then there was one about the boy wizard having had his knees pinned behind his ears.

I heard that there was full-frontal footage, but it was left on the cutting-room floor.

The amount of nudity in the film could vary quite a lot. But it’s important to have more people see the film. And we’d have different ratings with more penises in this film. Excuse the pun, but it’s not the point of the thing. The close-ups of my face, that’s where the story is being told. There’s no full-frontal nudity in the end, but we did our jobs.

OUT MAGAZINE

For me, Kill Your Darlings is a film about young love in whatever form it takes. It wasn’t any more challenging than if you’re doing a [sexual] awakening scene with a girl. At no point did any of us want to do anything that would distinguish it from how we would fall in love with somebody—to my knowledge, there is no difference in how heterosexual and homosexual people fall in love. A lot of people are quick to ask if it’s a gay love story—well, yes, they are gay characters, but it’s just a love story.

I was talking to someone about this and I said, "Why is it that when people meet English men in America they automatically think they’re gay?" and one of the girls explained to me it was because American men feel the need to in some way assert a sense of masculinity in everything they do, and British men don’t feel the same compulsion to do that all the time.

I think my attitude towards homosexuality is actually the prevalent one in my generation—it’s just unfortunate that in the world of the Internet sometimes the angriest voices are the ones we hear the loudest. But I can’t remember the last time I met somebody of my age who was bigoted. Obviously it exists, but I do think attitudes are changing.



The actor explains why all English men aren't gay

The reviews for first-time director John Krokidas's film, Kill Your Darlings—which stars Daniel Radcliffe as a young Allen Ginsberg—are coming in after its Sundance premiere. And so far it seems critics are loving it. As the UK's The Independent stated, Radcliffe "provides a defining performance as Beat poet Allen Ginsberg." Since so much is being made of the gay sex in the film, we asked Radcliffe his thoughts.

Daniel Radcliffe: "For me, Kill Your Darlings is a film about young love in whatever form it takes. It wasn’t any more challenging than if you’re doing a [sexual] awakening scene with a girl. At no point did any of us want to do anything that would distinguish it from how we would fall in love with somebody—to my knowledge, there is no difference in how heterosexual and homosexual people fall in love. A lot of people are quick to ask if it’s a gay love story—well, yes, they are gay characters, but it’s just a love story.

The relationship between Allen [Ginsberg] and Lucien [Carr], I think is incredibly universal—you meet somebody who is far more confident, far more charismatic, and seemingly more intelligent than you, and you completely fall in love with them, and then you actually outgrow them, and they come to resent you for it. I think that’s the whole point of relationships is that they do absolutely move you on as a person, and you learn things about yourself as a person, things you like and don’t like, and things you can do better next time you are with somebody.

There were certainly relationships that I could draw on when thinking about my relationship with Lucien, and not all of them romantic relationships, some of them just relationships of professional mentorship, the couple of really great teachers I’d had—elements of all those relationships factored into Allen’s and my experience of Lucien.

Out: One of the things that our readers, certainly, find compelling about you is this sense of your instinctive comfort around people of different sexualities. For a lot of gay men that seems quite empowering.

I had an interesting conversation with someone recently, because there was a wonderful moment on the opening night of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying when one of the male chorus of the show tried to set up my bisexual dresser, who’s a woman—and who had been with a woman for a long time at that point—with my gay English singing teacher, which was never going to work.

I said, "Did you not know Mark was gay?" And he said, “To be honest, all English people I meet seem gay, so I just assume none of you are.”

I was talking to someone about this and I said, "Why is it that when people meet English men in America they automatically think they’re gay?" and one of the girls explained to me it was because American men feel the need to in some way assert a sense of masculinity in everything they do, and British men don’t feel the same compulsion to do that all the time.

I think my attitude towards homosexuality is actually the prevalent one in my generation—it’s just unfortunate that in the world of the Internet sometimes the angriest voices are the ones we hear the loudest. But I can’t remember the last time I met somebody of my age who was bigoted. Obviously it exists, but I do think attitudes are changing.

Esquire

PARK CITY, Utah — Murder, history, gay sex, and literary royality: Kill Your Darlings is practically a search-optimized killer app at the Sundance Film Festival, and one of the most successful premieres of the opening weekend here. The film is essentially the origin story of the Beats: the story of how a very young Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston), and William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster) all came to know each other through the beguiling, rich-kid connector Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan). Luckily, John Krokidas’s debut film is low on pretension and, instead, bridles the wild, immature energy of these college-aged kids and rides it into a taut tale of murder, based on the real-life, little-told story of Carr and an obsessive admirer. To say the least, it’s a major departure for the artist formerly known as Harry Potter, who plays a young Ginsberg finding his voice, and his sexual mojo. We chatted with Daniel Radcliffe about his life post-Potter and, as he says, “the boy wizard having had his knees pinned behind his ears.”

ESQUIRE.COM: So, Sundance is very different from the Harry Potter universe. What’s surprised you the most?

DANIEL RADCLIFFE: I suppose the sort of gifting-suite things, which are just bizarre. Where people want to give you scarves and stuff. Yesterday, I brushed up against a phone, and a woman appeared to tell me everything I wanted to know. I mean, I have a phone. I’m not looking for a new one no matter how glamorous it may be. And there are a lot of paparazzi. But it’s been a wonderful weekend. It’s lovely to have a film that everyone’s really excited about.

ESQ: I was crazy about the Beats as a teen. And since I work in magazines, I’m sometimes haunted by that Ginsberg line, "Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Time magazine? I'm obsessed by Time. I read it every week." Do you have a favorite line?

DR: Ben Foster was a massive William S. Burroughs fan, but I was just aware of and enjoyed his poetry to a degree. I don’t have a favorite line, but I have a favorite poem: "Kaddish," because of the way your knowledge of his life and his mother informs the way you read his poetry. It’s a real heartbreaker.

ESQ: In this film, a young Ginsberg shakes off his more conservative life and embraces a wild new identity. Are you having a similar experience, leaving Harry Potter?

DR: You know, I didn’t think of that at first, but John [Krokidas], the director, he thought of that long before I did, and it’s one of the reasons he thought I was suited to this part — because he thought I was living through a real-life arc of this journey. Someone asked me if it was intimidating to play the Beats, and it is intimidating, but it’s not daunting if you stop thinking of them as the Beats, and think of them as people going on a very universal journey of self-discovery and joy and then responsibility. You need to experience both to find out who you are. When you’re seventeen to early twenties, that’s the time you’re trying to work out who you are. If you’re trying to make some kind of artistic or creative impact, that’s the age when you start to figure out how to do that. As much as it can be a source of great frustration, from that frustration you can build ambition.

ESQ: Are you feeling any sort of ambition you didn’t feel, say, five years ago?

DR: Yes. Not everyone has to run around New York City and do drugs and be involved with a murderer. But, yes, leaving Potter, working on new things — more than anything what it’s confirmed is how much I want to direct. I want to write, too, but that’s what I know now I didn’t know five years ago.

ESQ: When you direct a film, would it be more likely to be big commercial thriller, or the kind of film that ends up here at Sundance?

DR: I think Sundance is probably the most likely option. My taste in the films I’ve taken as an actor is similar to what I’d do a director or writer: all quite odd, challenging stuff, slightly off-the-wall.

ESQ: I’m imagining you reading Ginsberg on the set of Harry Potter. Did you feel like you were outgrowing that world toward the end?

DR: Not particularly — we were not made to feel like kids when we were 19, 20, 21. If I was reading Ginsberg, cool. But certainly I know what you’re saying. It’s almost like I wouldn’t say I outgrew Potter while I was there, but your capacity to learn and grow after a while when you’ve been in one environment for a very long time and very comfortable there, decreases. What I’ve learned is there has to be an element of fear, or anxiety that it might not turn out okay.

ESQ: Everyone’s talking about your gay sex scene with Dane DeHaan. But you seem very cool about it. You’ve already gotten naked onstage in Equus. You don’t seem squeamish about sex.

DR: I’m of the opinion: You take the job, you read the script. I was on set once for a nude scene with an actress who knew what was going on and then had a panic about the sex scene. I remember thinking, You knew this was coming and now you’re slowing down the shoot. It’s as if I’d read this script, then said, on set, “Oh, actually can we just kiss and cuddle?” like an idiot. “Can I keep my trousers on for the sex scene?” I mean, it’s in the script. It’s in the script, you take the job. I’m not massively squeamish about sex at all. It happens.

ESQ: And yet people are still shocked by Harry Potter doing it.

DR: It’s shocking by the sheer fact that it’s me. Otherwise, it’s entirely unshocking that I’m playing Allen Ginsberg in a film about self and sexual discovery, and there’s a sex scene. As my costar Dane DeHaan said, people are often attracted to each other and people who are attracted to each other often want to have sex. I’m just happy that it’s a well-done scene. John had never seen the version of that scene that he wanted: gay sex in a film that felt very real. He wanted to achieve that and he did. It’s also led to friends texting me amusing lines from reviews, which have really made me laugh.

ESQ: Like what?

DR: One very cool one said something like, “The sex scene will probably be called graphic because it’s between two men, but it isn’t.” Then there was one about the boy wizard having had his knees pinned behind his ears.

ESQ: I’ve heard some jokes about your “magic wand.”

DR: Yes, John Krokidas made that joke at the Q&A, and I told Dane, “Oh, no, we’re going to hear that line to the end of the word.”

ESQ: I heard that there was full-frontal footage, but it was left on the cutting-room floor.

DR: The amount of nudity in the film could vary quite a lot. But it’s important to have more people see the film. And we’d have different ratings with more penises in this film. Excuse the pun, but it’s not the point of the thing. The close-ups of my face, that’s where the story is being told. There’s no full-frontal nudity in the end, but we did our jobs.

ESQ: You’re not the only franchise star transitioning to more artsy films. Do you feel a rivalry there? Ever see Robert Pattinson getting great roles and think, He was once the kid in the background of my scenes at Hogwarts?

DR: With Rob, I look at people and I think it’s easy to spot the ones who are in it for the right reasons, who want careers with longevity. What’s interesting about mine and Rob’s scenario is that Potter and Twilight are what made us, but Jennifer Lawrence had an Oscar nomination before Hunger Games. Mentally, we’re rooting for each other. Franchises aren’t to be avoided. They can be exciting and they give you opportunities to do other films. And it’s always pleasing to see it’s possible to come out of a franchise, have a career, and be respected, when you see these other actors.

ESQ: And your costar Dane DeHaan is about to play Harry Osborne in the Spider-Man franchise.

DR: People ask me if I have advice — he doesn’t need any advice. This idea that starring in a franchise is more intimidating and an independent film actor will just shit his bricks on a big set is just ridiculous.



esquire
out