When we think of Daniel Radcliffe, he becomes synonymous with Harry Potter, whether he likes it or not. But unlike some of his wizarding world co-stars, he has been able to break into a niche acting genre of offbeat comedy. Between his roles in Miracle Workers to Swiss Army Man, Daniel is making a name for himself as one of the great comedic actors of our time. And now he’s tackling his biggest comedic role yet: "Weird Al" Yankovic.
To some, it may seem like an out-of-left-field casting decision, but to others, it makes complete sense. Even though Daniel isn't known as a comedian or a singer, it’s clear from the film that Weird Al made the right decision by asking Daniel to play him in his epic biopic, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. So how did Daniel get cast as Weird Al?
Daniel Radcliff was cast as Weird Al by director Eric Appel and Weird Al himself.
Every film has a different casting process, but for Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, it only made sense to defer to Weird Al himself on who he’d like to see play him. In a Reddit AMA, Al revealed, “Eric Appel and I had the final say over all casting decisions. And yes, Daniel was absolutely THE top pick.” While it may seem like a weird choice, “weird” is no stranger to Al.
Al went on to explain, “I’ve always been incredibly impressed by Dan’s acting, particularly his range. He can do comedic parts as well as scarily intense dramatic parts, and he’s phenomenal at both. And that’s something we were specifically looking for, because even though this movie is a comedy, we wanted it to play like a very serious Oscar-bait Hollywood biopic. That tone is very specific and hard to pull off, and we knew Daniel would absolutely nail it.”
But wait! There’s more: “I’ve also been very impressed by his choice of film roles post-Potter… he’s chosen a lot of (I hate to over-use the word, but) “weird” projects, so I thought this movie might be right up his alley! And as an added plus, I was aware that we both shared an admiration for musical comedy legend Tom Lehrer, so even though I’d never met Dan before casting him, I had a strong feeling that we were kind of kindred spirits.”
Not only did Weird Al choose Daniel, but Daniel was drawn to the role immediately.
As Weird Al explained, Daniel shared adoration for Tom Lehrer, which Daniel explained during an interview on The Tonight Show. “When I talked to Al for the first time, I was like, 'I'm immensely flattered by the idea that you would pick me to play you, but like, why me?'" Daniel shared. And apparently, it was because of a clip of Daniel that Al happened to see over 10 years earlier.
"I sang 'The Elements' next to Colin Farrell and a very bemused Rihanna, who I think was like, 'Who is this kid and why is he singing all of the elements?'" Daniel recalled his appearance on The Graham Norton Show. "And I guess Al saw that and was like, 'This guy maybe gets it.' And so picked me."
Since getting cast and filming, it’s clear from the promo that Daniel and Weird Al had a great time working on the film together. “Eric Appel and I both ‘met’ Daniel for the first time on a Zoom call,” Al explained to his Reddit fans.
“We had just sent him the script, and we kinda thought we’d need to twist his arm a little bit, but we were surprised to find out that he was immediately on board with the project. He loved the script, and totally 'got' what we were going for. It was a great meeting — after it was over, Eric and I excitedly texted each other: ‘Did that really just happen?’”
Yes, yes it did. And now, as we watch Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, we will surely be asking ourselves, “Did that really just happen?”
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is now available to stream on the Roku Channel.