Daniel Radcliffe on Playing a Neo-Nazi in ‘Imperium’: “It’s still just horrible to say some of this stuff”

Actor Daniel Radcliffe

Though Daniel Radcliffe will always be Harry Potter, he has taken on a number of remarkably different roles since the long-running blockbuster series wrapped up several years ago. In Imperium, Radcliffe plays an FBI agent who goes undercover as a neo-Nazi, which is based on a true story. In an interview with Fast Company, Radcliffe reveals what interested him in the script, how he played such a layered character, and what it felt like to say his character’s hate-filled dialogue.

One aspect that initially drew Radcliffe to the script was that it didn’t end in some kind of take-no-prisoners shootout. He explains, “Often in these kinds of scripts you’ll have a character that’s set up as being smart and that’s how he overcomes obstacles in the first two-thirds of the film, but then in the last act, it’s just, ‘Ah fuck it, give him a gun.’ And it’s nice to see a script that has the balls to keep him unarmed and using his brain until the end.”

On set, Radcliffe had numerous discussions with director Dan Ragussis about how to portray his character effectively on two levels — showing the audience his neo-Nazi “mask” while showing the FBI agent underneath. He says, “Something I deferred to Dan [Ragussis] on all the time was working out how good Nate is at hiding his feelings. Because you want to show the audience stuff that you don’t want to show the character you’re in the scene with, so it’s sort of trying to find that line of showing I’m shit-scared in a way that they can see it without the guy I’m with being like, ‘Hey, you’re obviously shit-scared—presumably you’re FBI.’ It was hard to make sure you know where he is emotionally at all times but make it believable that the people he’s with wouldn’t.”

The most difficult part of making the film for Radcliffe was spewing the hate speech that his character says — even though he knew everybody understood it was part of the script, he still felt “horrible” to say it to his fellow actors and in front of the crew. He confesses, “No swear words can offend me but when you get to the racial stuff, it’s like, oh yeah, this is the last bastion of what is really truly horrible and offensive. There’s a reason those words are powerful. Even though you know that everybody knows and understands that you’re acting and this in no way reflects on you, it’s still just horrible to say some of this stuff, so I found myself going up to some of the actors between takes and apologizing: ‘I know you know, and I know I don’t have to, but I just feel like I need to.'”

Leave a Reply

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/anson-mount-inhumans.jpg
Marvel’s Inhumans: How Anson Mount Developed Black Bolt’s Communication
"I tend to be more interested in a character’s weaknesses than I do their strengths and in a comic book/graphic novel space, it’s easy to lose sight of that, you know?" - Anson Mount
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Jodie-Whittaker.jpg
Jodie Whittaker on Becoming the First Female Doctor Who
"To be asked to play the ultimate character, to get to play pretend in the truest form: This is why I wanted to be an actor in the first place." - Jodie Whittaker
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/watch-sag-conversations-with-act.jpg
Watch: SAG Conversations with Actors from Broadway’s ‘Hamilton’
The cast speaks about filling the big shoes of the original cast and performing in perhaps the most popular American musical in decades.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/watch-sag-conversations-with-bil.jpg
Watch: SAG Conversations with Billy Bob Thornton of ‘Goliath’
Thornton talks about playing a character that some would say is fairly typical for him as well as his career as a whole.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/watch-evangeline-lillys-lost-aud.jpg
Watch: Evangeline Lilly’s ‘Lost’ Audition
Check out the audition that grabbed the attention of the Lost creators above!