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Daniel Radcliffe gets to play the baddie opposite Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum in the adventure rom-com

Daniel Radcliffe attends the Los Angeles premiere of The Lost City. Daniel Radcliffe attends the Los Angeles premiere of The Lost City. Photo by Vivien Killilea /Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

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If he’s being honest, it took Daniel Radcliffe almost the entire shoot for him to get over the fact he was working opposite Sandra Bullock in The Lost City.

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“I still have to pinch myself a little bit when I remember that I’m in a movie with her and my name is appearing on the credits list with hers,” Radcliffe says in a video call from Los Angeles.

“I think it took me the first half of the shoot to stop being intimidated and in awe of her and start to be even remotely normal around her.”

In the rom-com adventure (in theatres now), Bullock plays widowed romance novelist Loretta Sage, who is kidnapped by Abigail Fairfax (Radcliffe), a bratty billionaire who believes she can lead him to a hidden treasure on a remote island. Sage’s cover model Alan (Channing Tatum) leaps into action hoping to stage a rescue, enlisting the help of a mercenary (Brad Pitt in a cameo)

Of course, as Loretta and Alan try to escape, sparks fly.

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Sandra Bullock and Daniel Radcliffe star in Paramount Pictures’ The Lost City. Sandra Bullock and Daniel Radcliffe star in Paramount Pictures’ The Lost City. Photo by Paramount Pictures

Seeing the film with an audience was the first time Radcliffe, 32, had been in a movie theatre since before the pandemic.

“I hadn’t been to the movies since before COVID, so to see yourself in the first film after that was weird and a little uncomfortable, but I was reminded about what is great about seeing movies like that with a huge audience,” the Harry Potter star says.

“We got a few great reactions, screams and laughs. But my favourite reaction that I had never heard before in a cinema came during a moment where Channing does something very kind for Sandra’s character, and listening to 1,400 people around you melt was a noise I had never heard in a theatre. That many people dissolving into a puddle was very sweet.”

I’m definitely not running to get back. I’m enjoying getting the chance to do different things. But we’ll see.

Daniel Radcliffe isn’t completely closing the door on a return to the wizarding world of Harry Potter

While appearing opposite Bullock and Tatum would seem a surefire path to box-office success, the film (which is directed by brothers Aaron and Adam Nee) poses a bit of risk. The rom-com genre has disappeared at the multiplex, plus The Lost City is an original idea that’s not a Marvel superhero movie.

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But 10 years removed from his titular role in the film adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s best-selling Harry Potter book series, Radcliffe — who has also starred in Horns, The F Word, Swiss Army Man and more — thinks audiences are ready to embrace something different.

“There’s great action, it’s genuinely funny and there’s a legitimate romance that you’re rooting for in the middle of it,” he says, smiling.

In a wide-ranging conversation, Radcliffe spoke more about The Lost City, the legacy of Harry Potter, playing a Marvel villain and what fans can expect from his upcoming Weird Al Yankovic biopic.

You’ve played one of cinema’s most memorable heroes. Is it more fun playing the villain?

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“I had a lot of fun playing the hero, as well. There’s a lot of different things that are fun about both. But there’s something freeing about being the villain where you don’t have to be the emotional centre of the movie or even likeable or sympathetic. But he was a particularly fun villain to play. He’s got a desperate desire to get approval from his dad. The fact that he’s kidnapping Sandra Bullock’s character, but all the while wanting her to think he’s cool and to think the situation he’s bringing her into is cool. All of his villainy is motivated by quite pathetic things.”

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Daniel Radcliffe in a scene from The Lost City. Daniel Radcliffe in a scene from The Lost City. Photo by Paramount Pictures

Channing has a funny nude scene in the movie, which Sandra referred to as looking at his “landscape.” Did you give him any advice before he stripped down?

“No, I don’t think Channing Tatum of Magic Mike needed any advice for that (laughs). I think we maybe have discussed going naked at some point since we’ve both done a lot in vastly different contexts. But I didn’t have any advice for him. I think that scene was his second day on set, which isn’t a traditional actor’s greeting. ‘Hey, nice to meet you all, now I’m getting naked (laughs).’ ”

Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum in a scene from The Lost City. Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum in a scene from The Lost City. Photo by Paramount Pictures

This reminded my wife and I of some of the movies we grew up enjoying in the ’80s like Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile. Did you go back and rewatch any of those?

“I get the Romancing the Stone comparisons, it’s very apt. But the thing that I had watched recently when I read the script, which I think tonally is in the same vein as those movies you mention, was actually The Mummy with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. There’s something about the tone of that film — it’s portraying these incredibly dangerous, perilous situations, but they’re still being funny and quippy. You care about the characters and the love story, but it manages to be fun at the same time. That was my point of comparison for this, and I think we’ve been successful.”

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Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum star in The Lost City. Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum star in The Lost City. Photo by Paramount Pictures

The rom-com genre seems to have disappeared. Why do you think it’s something we don’t see a lot of anymore on the big screen?

“I think the short answer is: They are hard to do well and there have been a lot of bad ones. But when they’re at their best, they are some of most comforting films to return to again and again. I think this one belongs in that company.”

Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum in a scene from The Lost City. Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum in a scene from The Lost City. Photo by Kimberley French /Paramount Pictures

It’s been 10 years since the last Potter film. You’ve gone on to appear in an amazing array of diverse films. How did you navigate that part of your career ?

“It’s hard to make a plan in the film industry. You never know what you’re going to read. So it was mostly taking the attitude of saying, ‘What would I like to do now?’ And it was mostly trying to choose the types of movies I’d like to watch. It’s never been about picking the next right role to make people see me differently. It’s more the case of trying to build up a body of work that’s different than Harry.”

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Emma Watson, Ruprint Grint and Daniel Radcliffe in a scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Emma Watson, Ruprint Grint and Daniel Radcliffe in a scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Photo by Warner Bros.

I’m glad people will get to experience The Lost City in theatres, but the film industry is in flux. A lot of movies are going straight to streaming. Where do you fall on that theatrical versus streaming divide?

“I feel like it’s less important to me than a lot of other people. I love going to see movies in the cinema and I love the idea of people going to see movies in the cinema. But I’ve also been involved in projects where getting them made is so hard that by the time you get it made, all you want is for people to see it. If it’s on a big screen, that’s great. But if you’re on a streaming service, chances are you are going to get in front of a lot of people’s eyes. I’m sitting on the fence here, but I’m not as much of a purist as some other people … I just want my stuff to be seen.”

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You’re set to play Weird Al in an upcoming biopic. How does that happen? Does Al call you?

“I think I had the same reaction as everyone else: ‘Why did you pick me for this?’ It was an offer and they sent the script and it was brilliant. Eric Appel, our director, wrote the script with Weird Al and it was a very easy thing to say yes to. I loved the script, and I’m a fan of Al’s. But after I said yes, the pressure was on. I’m a fan of his, as are many millions of people. But I think it’s going to be special and cool and weird — I use the word ‘weird’ a lot, which sounds like I’m making a joke, but really it is. It was one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had in my life. I hope it’ll be as much fun for people to watch.”

Daniel Radcliffe as Weird Al Yankovic. Daniel Radcliffe as Weird Al Yankovic. Photo by Roku Channel

Do you sing and play the accordion in the movie?

“I do, yes.”

I was on Twitter the other day and I see that fans want you to play Wolverine and you said, “Prove me wrong, Marvel.” But let’s take it in another direction. You just played a great villain in The Lost City. What Marvel movie villain would you want to play?

“I’m honestly probably not familiar enough with Marvel. The ones I know are all like the original ones that have already been taken. I don’t know, man. I need to brush up on my Marvel to have better answers to these questions.”

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We’ll stick with Wolverine and “Prove me wrong, Marvel.”

“What have I done (laughs)? That wasn’t even a joke I made and it’s already got out of hand. It was a fun, flattering thing someone said on the Internet that, for now, has zero basis in reality.”

Continuing in that vein … Hypothetically, if you do come back as Harry Potter in another 10 years, what’s your advice for future Daniel Radcliffe?

“Are you sure about this, man (laughs)? It’s not something I spend a huge amount of time thinking about. The (HBO Max) reunion we did was lovely, but me and one of the other cast members had a conversation, and we were talking about how lovely it was to be there, but also how it was great that this wasn’t our everyday (anymore). I have friends who have continued working on the other movies — on the Fantastic Beasts — and it’s crazy when I hear them talking about it. They’ve basically carried on from when we left Potter and they’ve been pretty much in that world ever since. It’s awesome and it’s a fantastic job to work on, but I’m definitely not running to get back. I’m enjoying getting the chance to do different things. But we’ll see.”

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The movie takes place on an island, so if you were sent to a deserted island, what five movies and records are you bringing with you?

“This is going to be a rough list because it’s off the top of my head. The Royal Tenenbaums, A Matter of Life and Death, Doctor Strangelove, although I’m not sure how much I’ll want to watch that if I’m in that frame of mind anyway, Anchorman and Little Miss Sunshine. That’s one of my favourite films. Albums is an impossible question. But I did an episode of a radio show in Britain called Desert Island Discs and my answers are there. I gave more thought that time and if I get them wrong now I’ll regret it.”

The Lost City is in theatres now

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