It doesn't take long into Weird: The Al Yankovic Story to realize that not much of the biopic, based on director Eric Appel's 2010 Funny or Die short, goes by the book.
"Every character in this film starts as something you kind of recognize, then you watch it explode into something truly insane," says Daniel Radcliffe, 33, who plays the frizzy-haired title character. But that doesn't mean more is more when it came to his performance. "The absurdity of the situation is where the comedy is coming from, and actually, the more grounded you can play a lot of it — not all of it, because a lot of it is insane — but the more grounded you can make it, the better."
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Both of you truly commit to these roles. Was it freeing to go totally off the rails?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Yes. Eric directed me in one scene to be Madonna on a lot of cocaine. [Laughs] You would play the real person and then you would heighten it in this crazy way. But you couldn't get scared, and you had to commit, like, 100 times, especially Daniel.
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: I can't remember if our first day was the mansion scene?
WOOD: That was literally the first scene we shot [together].
RADCLIFFE: We shot a few days moving incredibly fast and then Evan came in and the relief of seeing her and knowing 'Oh she's f—ing game for it,' committing a thousand percent, hitting the ground running. She's not bothered by how quick it was moving, how it was just a few takes. You just really got the tone and pace of the film, and it was very exciting.
Evan, you've said that you played Madonna like a sociopath.
WOOD: She's very conniving and completely just using Weird Al, and everything she does is a pathological lie to get ahead in her career. So it was basically taking the genius that is Madonna and turning her into a sociopath that ends up running a drug cartel. It has to be a little bit ridiculous. She has to slowly start flying off the tracks in the end.
Daniel, if Evan was Madonna on cocaine, what were you?
RADCLIFFE: I don't know what the drug of choice I was filtering for Weird Al was.
WOOD: Coffee and cigarettes!
Daniel, your girlfriend [actress Erin Darke] is a big Weird Al fan. What was her reaction to your portrayal?
RADCLIFFE: Actually, after [director] Eric [Appel] and Al [Yankovic], the people I'm most concerned about their reaction is probably my in-laws, Erin's dad and brother, because they're massive fans as well. Erin's seen the movie but I'll be interested in what Ian thinks. I really hope he likes it.
Aaron Epstein/ROKU; Ron Galella Collection/Getty Daniel Radcliffe is playing 'Weird Al' Yankovic in 'Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.'
You're also shirtless for a lot of the movie. What did you do to prep?
RADCLIFFE: There's an article that makes it sound that I really got in shape for this film, like a mental choice. I'm like the cliché of the person who has stopped drinking and transferred that energy to something else. My parents are, like, insane CrossFitters in their sixties so there's an obsessive part of me. And I was randomly more half-naked as Weird Al than any other character I've ever played.
Did you do CrossFit?
RADCLIFFE: I don't do CrossFit, no. I do my own sort of thing, but that's just in terms of the bar that my parents have set. My parents are in their sixties and they're fitter than me and it's mental. My mom can do handstand press ups and she's, like, 60.
In the closing credits song, Weird Al himself sings about being Oscar-eligible. What do you think: Weird Al Yankovic, potential Oscar winner?
WOOD: We're seriously campaigning. It starts today!
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story premieres on the Roku Channel Nov. 4, and is available via Roku, Fire or Samsung devices.
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