After he completed the Harry Potter franchise, Daniel Radcliffe went on to do diverse roles in such productions as Kill Your Darlings, The Woman in Black, Frankenstein and, on Broadway, the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and, currently, the black comedy The Cripple of Inishmaan.
On August 19th, the second season of his darkly humorous series A Young Doctor’s Notebook and Other Stories, based on the works of Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov, premieres on the Ovation channel. In it he co-stars with Jon Hamm (Mad Men, Million Dollar Arm) as a young Russian doctor in 1917 during the Revolution, struggling with drug addiction while he tends to his patients. Despite the counsel from his older self (Hamm), the doctor plunges into a state of panic.
Daniel spoke with TV critics via satellite from New York’s Time Square about the series and whether he would ever consider playing Harry Potter again.
The series is based on Russian writings. How does that translate into being a British show?
There’s something kind of similar about the Russian sensibility to the English sense of humor, finding comedy out of incredibly dark places.
There’s a certain amount of joy taken in the bleakness of Russia and of England and, in the stories we tell about ourselves.
I think those are two things that mean it translates very well.
And while I don’t think it’s a particularly American sensibility, I do think America loves dark comedy. I’m doing an incredibly dark comedy on Broadway at the moment, and people are loving it.
I don’t think it’s too dark for people over here, because in my experience you’ve got the same twisted sense of humor as I do.
The series is only four episodes. Does that make it more likely for you to consider a TV project when you’re trying to fit something in with your theatre and film projects?
Definitely, because we had this very tight window that we could do it in. Everything just moved very quickly. For us, it would have been impossible to do it if it filmed for any longer than four weeks.
We condensed Jon’s stuff into just two and a half weeks of the shoot. It was a very intense thing for both of us.
What did you and Jon decide upon so that when you both play the character it’s seamless?
There’s a little fidgety tick that we both have when we are nervous and we fiddle with our ear, which kind of links us together.
In the first series I’m lighting a cigarette, and on the third strike of the match, it changes from [me to Jon].
So we do visual stuff to connect the two and hopefully keep reminding people that we are, in fact, the same person.
You and Jon dance together in the series. What was that like?
This series is an incredibly fun one to film. Jon is a very funny guy and we are very irreverent and we have a lot of fun. Dancing with Jon was great fun.
I had to dip him at one point, which was not easy. We got a couple of lifts in there as well.
Many British series are remade in America. In your opinion, what makes a good adaptation of a UK series?
That’s an interesting question. I think the only show that immediately comes to mind is The Office. I actually prefer the American Office to the British Office and that’s something I never thought I would say.
They were able to establish their own characters that were developed in different, new and original ways. That’s when it really comes into its own for me and becomes a brilliant, exciting series.