How Daniel Radcliffe Found That ‘Edge of Madness’ in ‘Weird: The Al Yankovic Story’ (Video)

Toronto 2022: Yankovic “manages to thread the needle perfectly between incredibly wholesome and sweet, but also has a genuine edge of madness,” Radcliffe tells TheWrap

Daniel Radcliffe plays a parallel universe version of Weird Al Yankovic in the (faux) biopic “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story,” according to the film’s writer and director Eric Appel. Check out the video, above.

“This version of Weird Al that we’ve created in the movie is like a bizarro version of Weird Al that exists in an alternate universe,” director Eric Appel said at TheWrap and Shutterstock’s Interview and Portrait Studio at the Toronto Film Festival, where the movie debuted.

Appel added: “What we really wanted was to find an actor that both worked well in drama and in comedy and that would get what we were going for, have the comedy chops to pull it off, and also be able to, like, 100% fully commit to playing this absurd comedy as straight as possible and as dramatic as possible.” Radcliffe met those criteria and then some.

For Radcliffe, working with Yankovic (who co-wrote the film with Appel and produced) to dig into the Weird Al that he was playing was thrilling. “He’s amazing. I think the thing that’s so special about Al’s persona, his music, everything, is that he manages to thread the needle perfectly between incredibly wholesome and sweet, but also has a genuine edge of, like, madness to it,” he said. “There’s an unpredictability that is very authentic and compelling to watch. And he’s also just somebody who has — obviously, it’s impossible to talk about this film without massively overusing the word ‘weird,’ — but he is somebody who has leant into his natural weirdness and that has been the key to happiness and success and fulfillment for him. I think if there’s a moral to this really weird film, then that’s it.”

According to Appel, the film (which is, fittingly, something of a parody of traditional biopics) also has a host of ’80s weirdos making cameos in the film, which the real Weird Al helped accommodate.

“Basically Al has like a really big Rolodex full of friends that are eager to come help out on our movie. So we put together a big list of people that you can text and email personally and said, ‘Do you want to come out and do this movie?’ It was just such an incredibly fun day in our in our insanely fast shoot,” Appel said.

“People were clamoring to get on that set, be a part of it. They wanted to be there,” co-star Evan Rachel Wood, who plays a heightened version of Madonna in the biopic, added.

Per the film’s official description: “The biopic holds nothing back, exploring every facet of Yankovic’s life, from his meteoric rise to fame with early hits like ‘Eat It’ and ‘Like a Surgeon’ to his torrid celebrity love affairs and famously depraved lifestyle. ‘WEIRD: The Al Yankovic Story’ takes audiences on a truly unbelievable journey through Yankovic’s life and career, from gifted child prodigy to the greatest musical legend of all time.”

Produced by Funny Or Die and Tango, “WEIRD: The ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Story” is Roku’s first original biopic. 

“Weird: The Weird Al Yankovic Story” is written by Al Yankovic & Eric Appel. Appel also directed the film and is an executive producer. Yankovic produces, along with Mike Farah, Joe Farrell and Whitney Hodack for Funny Or Die, and Tim Headington, Lia Buman and Max Silva for Tango. Funny Or Die’s Henry Muñoz III and Tango’s Neil Shah are executive producers. 

Studio sponsors include GreenSlate, Moët & Chandon, PEX and Vancouver Film School.