Daniel Radcliffe on How He Played Dead in ‘Swiss Army Man’
“You just sort of have to use your imagination when you’re playing something that doesn’t exist.” – Daniel Radcliffe
In what might be the most bizarre film of 2016, Swiss Army Man stars Daniel Radcliffe as a super-powered dead body who is used by a man (Paul Dano) to survive on a deserted island. However, as crazy of a concept as it sounds, Radcliffe didn’t spend the entire film without moving. Speaking with the New York Times, Radcliffe notes some of the techniques that went into bringing a dead body to, uh, life.
Radcliffe admits it takes some mental effort to play such an offbeat role. He explains, “You just sort of have to use your imagination when you’re playing something that doesn’t exist. But that’s a good thing. As long as you’re giving the directors what they want, there’s no really wrong answer.”
Playing a dead body gave Radcliffe some challenges, particularly with the voice. He reveals, “I started out wheezy, like if a bellows had a voice box. Then I had to imagine that rigor mortis has set in, so his jaw is kind of stiff but starts loosening up as he comes more to life.”
He also came up with a facial expression that would leave one eye nearly shut and the other wide open. He says, “I came up with [that] when I was playing around with stupid facial expressions in the mirror. I thought it was [something] everybody could do, but when I showed it to the directors, they were like, do that!”
But otherwise, Radcliffe had to remain very, very still. Though challenging, Radcliffe knew how important it was, explaining, “There’s really no trick. You just do it. There was also an element of not wanting to [mess up] the take and ruin Paul’s beautiful performance.”