Daniel Radcliffe Didn’t Like the Way Americans Wrote English Villains in Films

Daniel Radcliffe is a fan of cinema who enjoys a good movie villain. But at one point, the young actor had a problem with the way English antagonists were written by Americans. And the Harry Potter star wanted to see a change.

Daniel Radcliffe believed playing a movie villain in the United States was a rite of passage

Daniel Radcliffe smiling while wearing a dark blue shirt.
Daniel Radcliffe | Mike Pont/WireImage

Radcliffe is known for spending years playing the lovable hero Harry Potter in the titular films. But as he’s gotten older and gained more experience in his career, he’s portrayed a variety of characters. Recently, for instance, he ended up playing a villain in the movie The Lost City. In an interview with Empire, Radcliffe reflected on other English villains of the past when discussing his performance in the 2022 adventure movie.

“There’s a rich tradition of English actors being the bad guys in American movies,” he said. “When you watch those kinds of performances, like Tim Curry or Alan Cumming, these people who are great at playing bad guys, they seem to really revel in it. There is something about watching those actors where the theme is – and I’m a very different actor from both of those people – but the theme is that you see how much they are enjoying it.”

Radcliffe went on to quip how he was maintaining this tradition of English actors playing bad guys.

“There were no specific influences or people that I drew from, but I think generally, it’s a bit of a rite of passage, being the English bad guy in something,” he said.

Daniel Radcliffe had a problem with the way Americans wrote English villains in films

There was a point in time when the Weird Al star expressed a bit of disappointment with the way certain English villains were being written. He expressed these feelings while promoting his 2015 movie Victor Frankenstein. As the title suggests, the film focused on the scientist of the same name whose experiments resulted in a monstrous creation.

Although Radcliffe enjoyed the movie’s original script, it touched on a problem he had with storytelling in American cinema.

“I really liked the script [by Max Landis] but…sometimes I find when Americans write English characters, particularly bad guy English characters, there’s a tendency to want to make them very, very verbose, to a point where they actually become a little less scary,” he once told Hitflix (via Digital Spy).”Because they’re so English, they’re just charming rather than being scary.”

Daniel Radcliffe shared what he wanted to see in a villain

For Victor Frankenstein, the film’s director, Paul McGuigan, made some rewrites to Max Landis’ original script. The rewrites were very much appreciated by Radcliffe, who enjoyed how the director changed the villain in the film. It was exactly the kind of bad guy that the Harry Potter actor wanted to see.

“[In his rewrite], Paul brought a sense of real menace and danger toward that,” Radcliffe said. “That’s the thing, [in the original script] it felt like sort of film danger, where you always knew, ‘Ah, they’re gonna be okay in the end’. “And you don’t want that. The threat has to feel very real. It can’t be funny, slapstick violence. It has to be nasty. And Paul brought a real grounding, I think, so this felt like a very real film.”

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