Daniel Radcliffe spoke with ScreenCrave about his latest flick Kill Your Darlings. In it, he plays a college-age Alan Ginsberg who was entangled in a tragic murder investigation. The film explores what may have happened when his classmate Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) killed former friend and speculated lover David Kammarer (Michael C. Hall). Kill Your Darlings is a portrait of the events that sparked artistic awakenings in Ginsberg as well as future Beatnik legends Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster).
What drew you to this story?
Daniel Radcliffe: Really, it’s just what I find exciting in terms of the script. What scripts I find that really kind of get me going. It was incredibly complicated, incredibly dark while being very funny but also being a true story. I think one of the things that was exciting about the possibility of making this film is here you’ve got these famous characters and a completely hushed up event. There was something really exciting about the idea that I get to kind of explore a very well-known character no one really knows, that everyone thinks they know. The big chance of expanding that was very exciting.
How did you go about researching a young Ginsberg without getting too much into who he became?
Daniel Radcliffe: That’s what was so great about it was that I was able to look at some YouTube footage and was looking at the man he became and I think it’s quite fun to start sowing the seeds of that and also finding the traits. Listening to the people he knew talk about him as a young man. Listen to what they say about him or listening to what they say about him when he got older and going, ‘Where can I find the seed to his personality now?’ The thing I wanted to show was how much fun he was. We have this tendency to think about poets as being quite dull and serious individuals while writing. And actually Alan was really a vibrant, fun person to be around and I really wanted to capture that. The film really is really fun and actually kind of dark but I don’t think you can make a film about the Beat Generation, who were guys who were essentially having the time of their fucking lives, particularly at this moment in their story. I don’t think you can make a movie about the Beat Generation without it being fun.
Kammerer’s involvement as Carr’s artistic and social influence could be seen as just the world of artistic spirits who did things dramatically at a time where limits were pushed. Do you think some of what transpired could have just been due to the passionate lifestyle?
Daniel Radcliffe: I don’t necessarily think people need to be living 100 MPH in order to create good art. I don’t think that’s the case at all. I think it’s like that quote about there being two types of poets. There are people who write poetically about their lives and there are people who live poetically and write about it. That’s what these guys were doing. That’s one of those things that makes them so exciting to read I think. But I don’t think any behavior is justified because you subscribe to a different moral code because you’re a passionate artist.
True, but may Kammarer’s dramatic antics toward Carr been what later would be exploited as Kammerer’s obsession to serve Carr’s case?
Daniel Radcliffe: I think Lucien was a much more (antic prone than David). We cut some of the things that Lucien did in real life. Lucien used to bite into wine glasses and chew them at bars. He would order the most expensive steak on the menu and then throw it in the waiter’s face just to get a reaction. He was fucking crazy. But that’s the important thing. I think throughout history David has been portrayed as just a bit of a dubious stalker-type figure and the truth is always going to be more complicated than that. Michael C. Hall gives such an amazing performance of David that really fleshes out that character. We heard from many people that David tried to leave Lucien several times and that Lucien came back to him. There is no question it started out pretty salacious, David was Lucien’s troupe leader in Scouts. There is no question it started off on a massively inappropriate foot. I do think it was definitely much more of a two-way thing than history has made it out to be.
Kill Your Darlings opens in theaters October 18.