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Remember two years ago, when a picture of Daniel Radcliffe in a bathrobe, fuzzy slippers and — oh yeah — two giant freakin' guns stapled to his hands started making the rounds on the Internet, achieving instant meme status? Well, sorry to disappoint, but no, it wasn't some Britney-level meltdown for the former Harry Potter. Instead, it was for a scene from his upcoming action/comedy, Guns Akimbo, a gonzo shoot-'em-up made through a lens of video games and social media.
Coming to theaters on February 28, the movie stars Radcliffe as a down-on-his-luck mobile app programmer and online troll who becomes an unwitting participant in the Internet's latest twisted viral sensation: Skizm, a massively popular series of live-streamed mano-a-mano death matches between dueling psychos — the dystopian version of America's Got Talent. After being enlisted for the game — and outfitted with those aforementioned gun hands — against his will, Radcliffe's Miles is then forced to compete against Skizm's reigning champ, Nix (Ready or Not's Samara Weaving).
When SYFY WIRE sat down with the pair in Toronto following the film's TIFF premiere, Radcliffe described the movie as "a Jason Statham movie directed by Edgar Wright." Full disclosure: That's a bit of an oversell. But it does get to the heart of Guns Akimbo's full-tilt, heavily stylized, video-game-inspired approach. ("It's just chaos. And madness," promised Weaving.)
It's also fully in line with the increasingly out-there roles Radcliffe has taken on post-Potter, which include (but are not limited to) playing a re-animated, flatulent corpse in Swiss Army Man, a guy who suddenly sprouts devil horns in the aptly titled Horns, and a low-level angel named Craig in Miracle Workers. For a guy who's essentially playing with house money at this point, no one can accuse the former child star of playing it safe.
That said, it's not like Radcliffe is intentionally going out of his way to distance himself from Hogwarts, he told us. "Everyone always wants to assume that every film I do is a comment on films I used to do. But they're not. I don't want people to forget that I played Harry Potter. I loved playing Harry Potter. It was ten years of my life that I loved," he told SYFY WIRE. "I don't have to kill Harry Potter to make films now. I will always love what those films did for me."
And even though the actor's done plenty of genre work in recent years, that, too, was more coincidental than part of some master plan. "I forget that I keep picking genre movies, and then everybody's like, 'Hey, you did another genre movie!' And I'm like, 'Oh yeah, I did …'"
"All I can say is I think there's something fun about not doing films that are totally naturalistic," Radcliffe continued. "With this and with Horns, and I guess a little bit with Swiss Army Man, there's a sort of weird, magical-realism, modern fairy tale thing to them. The blending of fantasy and reality is something that I think is just very fun to play around in."
Well, that and the pants-free wardrobe. "If I can be in boxer shorts and slippers and a dressing gown in every film for now on, I'll be very happy," he joked. As for the other key part of that costume, Radcliffe eventually got pretty proficient with those bulky gun hands, according to his co-star. "You were helping people out," Weaving recalled, laughing. "Like, 'Here's your coffee.'"
"I got good, yeah," agreed Radcliffe. "I got really good." By the end, he could even put on pants all on his own, no outside help needed (unlike his character Miles). "I could do that myself! I couldn't button them, but I could do it."
Weaving — who's quickly developing a reputation as an up-and-coming genre badass after Ready or Not — had her own costume-related challenges playing Nix, a Gatling-gun-toting sociopath who sports the antisocial trifecta of metal fangs, face tattoos, and shaved eyebrows. It was a look that posed a real problem for Weaving on the days she was too tired to undergo the lengthy process of getting the makeup removed after filming, she said.
"Everyone started treating me differently. Like, people would cross the street to avoid me, and people would constantly be checking my ID," she recalled. "They wouldn't let me in buildings. When I tried to get dinner after work, I'd be turned down."
"With the costume and makeup, that's when I really felt Nix come to life," she said.
So, considering he's having so much fun doing quirky indie genre movies these days, would Radcliffe ever consider a return to the franchise that made him a household name? "I don't want to say no or yes, to be honest. I think this is just a thing that's happening on the Internet," Radcliffe said. "I don't think this is actually a thing that Warner Bros. is talking about, or anybody's actually talking about …"
"It would depend on so many things," he continued. "It would depend on what my state of mind is, it would depend on what the script was. There's so many things to take into account that I feel like a hypothetical is a hard one to answer in any sort of satisfying way."
Until then, Radcliffe fans will just have to take solace in the fact that the actor is continuing to seek out offbeat new projects like Guns Akimbo instead of living in the past. And as for that Jason Statham-meets-Edgar Wright elevator pitch? "I hope all the parties involved are complimented by that. As I feel they all should be. I love Jason Statham movies," Radcliffe made sure to qualify. Forget a Potter redux. Maybe that's the part Radcliffe should go after next.
Anyone know if the Fast & Furious franchise is still hiring?