Daniel Radcliffe Talks Feathered Costars and “Miracle Workers”
Daniel Radcliffe is no stranger to working with birds – after all, he grew up acting alongside the seven different owls who played Hedwig over the course of the eight movies. Still, the actor says that the ducks on the set of Miracle Workers: Dark Ages were much more difficult to work with than his previous feathered costars:
Ducks are much [harder] to work with than owls. I don’t know what I thought you could train a duck to do; it turns out, not much. Any scene you watch where I appear to be wrangling ducks is very real. I really am like, ‘Hey! Come back over here! We’ve got one more take before the end of the day and you’re ruining it!’
These ducks belong to Prince Chauncley, Radcliffe’s character in the second installment of Simon Rich’s Miracle Workers series. The first season starred Radcliffe, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Steve Buscemi in corporate heaven, but this season, the cast has been transplanted into a medieval setting with a modern sense of humor:
There is some stuff in the show that is really obviously heightened, that is very crazy, but it’s not that far off from the kind of stuff that was going on in medieval Europe. We have a goat on trial, and that is actually something that is completely true and something that happened with semi-regularity in medieval Europe. There really were animals put on trial for things, so it’s quite rich pickings for comedy.
The bumbling Prince Chauncley differs wildly from Radcliffe’s previous character on the show, Craig, a low-level angel working in a corporate version of heaven. Still, Radcliffe sees some similarities between both of these hilarious characters:
They’re both socially inept but come from completely different places. Craig’s social ineptitude is caused by him being overly analytical and self-aware, whereas Chauncley has no self-awareness. He starts as someone who’s psychotically stupid, and his journey is one of starting to become a good person by the end. It’s a very different role for me – I’ve never done anything this broad before. It’s very hard to find a grounded and subtle way of playing someone who dances with ducks.
It’s hard to find a character Radcliffe hasn’t played yet – the actor has starred in a wide variety of thrillers, musicals, dramas, and comedies since the end of the Harry Potter series. That’s a conscious choice he’s made for his career, intentionally choosing more creative and innovative projects:
There’s a lovely thing, which is that I’m open to some weirder stuff…What I had to learn is that I’m in a position very few actors are in, which is, you have autonomy over your career. And because ‘Potter’ has been very good to me financially, you can pick and choose some (projects) purely because it makes you happy. There was a stage where I thought I should be doing a certain type of film, and it was a very valuable lesson to learn that, ‘Oh, I shouldn’t necessarily do something because it’s the right thing to do on paper.’ I was very worried at the end of ‘Potter,’ because I didn’t know what the future was going to be or what my life was like without that thing…’Potter’ was this amazing start, and then I had to step back and say, ‘OK, what do you want your career to be?’
Daniel Radcliffe’s career is only getting better from here, that’s for sure! Miracle Workers: Dark Ages airs on TBS every week.