HomeStreamingDirector Daniel Radcliffe and Eric Appel in the Best of ‘Weird’ – IndieWire
Director Daniel Radcliffe and Eric Appel in the Best of ‘Weird’ – IndieWire
June 22, 2023
Welcome to my Favorite Scene! In this series, IndieWire talks to the actors behind some of our favorite television shows about their personal best screen moments and how they came about.
Daniel Radcliffe is no stranger to stunt work.
The “Harry Potter” star has amassed an impressive filmography since graduating from The Wizarding World in 2011, from several Broadway musicals to TBS’s “Miracle Workers” to the Daniels’ infamous “Swiss Army” — all of which require comedic versatility, but only sporadically called for it his extensive experience in the field of blockbuster franchise operations. The same was true of Eric Appel’s “WEIRD: The Al Yankovic Story” — until a major fight scene was shot in just over four hours.
“If we were in Potter, we could have spent a week doing that scene,” the actor told IndieWire via Zoom — to Appel’s immediate laugh.
“I wish I had a week!” said the director. “I wish I had one.” Sun not really a week, a whole day.”
Radcliffe’s favorite scene from “WEIRD” embodied his love of stunt work and stunt teams, while Appel speaks as the writer, director and co-architect (along with Yankovic himself) of the entire “WEIRD” odyssey since “Funny.” or die” video in 2010.
“They’re very well trained to work quickly,” Appel said, citing his experience on Adult Swim’s “NTSF:SD:SUV::,” MTV’s “Death Valley.” “I brought all the experience I got from these low-budget action comedies I’d worked on to this experience.”
The duo sat down with IndieWire to discuss the most stressful, joyous, and funniest parts of filming their favorite scenes while racing against the clock.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
IndieWire:Dan, if I may start with you: What is your favorite scene from this movie?
Daniel Radcliffe: I think my favorite scene from this movie is probably the fight scene in the diner. He pours his heart out, saying that Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood) is the biggest thing in his life and if anything happened to her, he wouldn’t know what to do – right after saying that a bag is going. his head and kidnapping is a joke that was so crazy. It’s one of those moments where you think the movie has taken its crazy turn and it can’t get any harder, and then it just do. What follows is me, as Weird Al, trying to take down this whole diner full of thugs because suddenly, like everyone there, he’s working for Pablo Escobar (Arturo Castro).
I think we shot that scene in four to four and a half hours – that’s really not an exaggeration. It wasn’t even a big part of our day. So to do it in that amount of time was incredibly satisfying and it’s a really crazy stunt action scene. I love working with stunt classes; they’re always so crazy, or like they’re on the edge of crazy, and just a group of amazing people… As an actor, you often get the opportunity to be in the middle of a group of extremely talented people, like you can excel at whatever they want. in every department from the makeup and hair to the camera and obviously the stunts that night. Everyone had to work so fast and it was fantastic to watch it all come together in such a short period of time. The ADs, my stunt double Andrew (Franklin) and our stunt coordinator Jake (Huang), were incredible.
EA: One was in “Mortal Kombat” as in the original Mortal Kombat 1 and 2 arcade games. This guy was Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat who was actually in the video game that they took photos of. the animation that can be placed in the game.
DR: He wasn’t the guy who happened to…
EA: Did it fall under the table?
DR: Yes, the table top. I should have caught him and did the beginning of the move, then they proceeded to turn the table properly. But it all went really fast and I did that and he just jumped and got the table together and – great! I think the footage is in the film, unless I’m grossly mistaken.
EA: This. The table really shouldn’t have broken. It was supposed to land on top of the table, but the table broke and ketchup and mustard flew into the air. It was a bit difficult to edit because immediately when it happened, everyone’s face went “OHHH” – that shouldn’t have happened! So it was hard to get away with that moment, but it was great—I mean, it was a real blow.
It’s also an interesting choice because I wanted to ask about the cast depending on which scene you chose, but it was mostly daytime players or stuntmen.
DR: Yes, but we also had a lot of time for rehearsals. This movie was shot in 18 days, and one of the reasons we were able to do that was because we got a little rehearsal time before that. One of the scenes we rehearsed was this, so I worked with the stunt coordinator and he could see what I could do, which parts I could do and which parts I obviously couldn’t. The guy I hit with the frying pan – oh no, the guy who hits me me with the pan at the end, the huge guy who comes in is a guy named Thomas Forbes Johnson who I worked with on a movie before. I actually knew him pretty well, so it was so nice at midnight at the very end of the scene when we were shooting, the last guy I got to work with… it’s just easier to hit on somebody when A) they’re a friend and B) they’re built like Thomas, and you’re just like, “I couldn’t hurt you if I tried.” And like I said, I’ve always had a very close working relationship with the stunt team since I worked on Potter, so it was nice to get back into that.
EA: The first part of the scene was so much fun to shoot as well, the conversation with you and Evan. You have to lift it up as much as Al at his absolute rock bottom — and with this film, the goal was to play everything as seriously as possible to make it feel like this award-winning biopic. So Dan is playing Al as a shell of his former self, and Evan is really amping it up – he clearly doesn’t care what his current emotional state is and is just using it to reach the pinnacle of stardom, fame and power. .
DR: And his complete inability to see that and fully, completely believe it.
Eric, I’d like to hear more about the specifics of directing that scene – because it’s not an action movie, but there’s that and the scene towards the end in Mexico. I imagine that this will be on his mind throughout that 18-day shoot.
EA: (“NTSF:SD:SUV::”) had a lot of action elements. Every episode had this big fight scene, so all the experiences I had from that and cable shows were walking the line between comedy and action. The stunt coordinator of “Death Valley” gave this tip: always shoot the actors’ legs. It was like, “Do a shot where you’re just standing on your feet,” and then if you mess up in the edit, you can always cut to like the legs are laughing and you’ll be able to jump somewhere in the action sequence. . Because nobody keeps track of where the legs are, you know?
Well, I was hoping to have a little bit more time to shoot this action sequence, but the schedule has been shaky and just the time of year and when it gets dark… We shot in Burbank, where it’s really hard to go out. 2 o’clock. So it got a little hairy, shooting the scene was a bit stressful. We had a few beats we had to cut out, but the rehearsal time was really important to make it work. Daniel knew the choreography so well that at the end of the night—when he jumps over to the other side of the counter and fights the guy with the pan and puts the guy under the panini press—it was another bunch of shots. that I wanted to get there. I was planning to get some close-ups of the guy’s head and the bell rings at the end and I had 30 minutes left to photograph the whole fight, I was like “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.” We could simply roll it, we could make two strokes out of it. Daniel knows the choreography well enough that we get two great shots of it, but we give it 100%. Then we stand behind him and do one with the stunt actor.
I can say that this was the scene I was most worried about when we got into the editing room. I was like “I don’t know if I have this fight” just because I knew in my head that all the things I wanted to get I had to throw away. I mean, it’s low-budget filmmaking, and it’s the direction. You have the plan of what you want to get, and then the reality of what you can get, and you have to make those decisions in the moment to find the right things where you can put it together and be as effective as you wanted it to be. I was so relieved when we started showing the movie to people and they were like, “Man, that fight scene is awesome. I love that fight scene, it’s like a big action movie and I’m like, “Oh my God, thank you. We shot it in four hours.”
Well, let’s get down to your favorite scene, especially when you came as a writer and director and have been involved in the project for over a decade.
EA: Yes, a quarter of my life. My favorite scene is that when they write “my Bologna” for the first time. We wanted to create this real lightning in a bottle movie moment he wrote the song. These biopics usually have this scene where the artist just comes up with their big hit, seemingly out of the blue, and it’s already fully formed. Al and I, our favorite example was in “Ray” when he’s writing “Hit The Road, Jack” and it’s like somebody’s telling him to go and he’s like, “Wait a moment. What do you say?” and then he goes to the concert and immediately plays it.
It’s actually the only sequence in the film where I got every shot I wanted. It was a really fun scene to shoot that day. I distinctly remember the upside-down shot of Daniel staring at his bolognese on the counter, pressed against that face like he was out of “Kill Bill” or something. We were having a blast on set – it was our first day on set, so it was the first day we saw, ‘Oh, Daniel really brings it,’ and he plays it so seriously, and it’s such a moving feeling. meaningful moment.
My editor, Jamie Kennedy… he did this big sweeping Spielberg score and he just really stretched the moment by cutting to the reactions of the roommates, like hitting each other and realizing what’s going on. That really did it for me. I remember the first time I saw it, I had to stop it and I was just like, “What have we done? This movie is so crazy that people are going crazy for it. It made me laugh so much.” Zach Robinson and Leo Birenberg, who wrote our amazing score, figured out how to tie into the main theme of the movie, and it really came together. Jack (Lancaster) and the other guys, Spencer (Treat Clark) and Tommy (O ‘Brien’s) reaction after playing the song, it really builds this big moment.
DR: One of my favorite moments is the scene where Jack Lancaster breaks the plates. It’s one of my favorite shots in the movie because it destroys them, but there’s something about it: he has this smooth, incomplete body language as he does it, and it’s great. When those boys are just playing – did Spencer jump out the window? Was it something that was written?
EA: That was written. The key to the scene was him jumping through a plate glass window, which obviously we couldn’t do. So it was funny on set, but then when you see it all come together and it comes out of this really big, overwhelming, moving moment of, “I don’t know if it was God or the devil, but there’s something…” it’s one of those scenes that’s not exactly it came out not just the way I wanted it, but better than I wanted it to. And this is the scene I point to where I’m like, “If you want to know what the movie is, watch this scene. That’s what the movie is about.”
“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” is now streaming on The Roku Channel.