The Weirdest Thing Paul Dano Learned About His 'Swiss Army Man' Co-Star Daniel Radcliffe
When the movie you're filming requires you to ride your co-star's body like a jet ski, dress up like a woman to fulfill said co-star's character's romantic fantasies, and generally get to know every sound and smell your co-star's body emits, the two of you are likely going to get real close, fast. Yet Swiss Army Man co-stars Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe tell Bustle that they didn't just use their bonding time to form a tight friendship ("If you could imagine doing this film with somebody you hated or really disliked, f*ck me, that would’ve been really unpleasant," Radcliffe says) — they also learned some pretty strange things about one another, including the weird fact of how well Radcliffe fit the part of a semi-animated corpse.
"Your eye thing, your body — your body fit the part strangely," Dano says, referring to his co-star's strange, jittery movements. "It worked for the movie."
Adds Radcliffe with a chuckle, "I’m quite durable. You can throw me around. I’ve always said I bounce, I really enjoy falling and doing all that stuff."
The star's, uh, durability, may have been one of the strangest things Dano learned about him, but it also became an asset on the set of Swiss Army Man. In the film, Radcliffe's character, Manny, is constantly being tossed around, with his limbs posed in strange positions that'd make any actor uncomfortable. Not Radcliffe, though, who says he enjoyed taking on such a physically challenging role.
"One of the first things I said to the directors, was, 'can I do a lot of my own stunts?'" Radcliffe recalls. "Which they later revealed to me they were very relieved about, because they knew they wouldn’t be able to pay for a stunt double for the entire film, so they were like, 'you will be doing all of your own stunts, whether you want to or not.'"
Radcliffe's above-and-beyond commitment to the role is one of the reasons Swiss Army Man, in theaters now, is getting so much attention — that, and the fact that it's been dubbed by many as "the Daniel Radcliffe Farting Corpse Movie." The label may be technically true, as Manny's bodily functions do make up much of the movie's humor, but it's not a reflection of the actual film, a mostly dramatic movie about the intimate friendship between two lonely, lost souls: Manny, a dead man wanting to learn about love, and Hank, a castaway yearning for any human connection. Yet while being written off as a movie about farts and dead people might frustrate some, both Dano and Radcliffe say they don't mind the label their movie has received.
"I feel like it’s actually great, exactly what you want somebody to think going into the film," Dano says. "Because I think that’s the toughest thing to swallow for some people, and knowing that little bit going into it maybe opens up the door for the rest of it to come through."
Adds Radcliffe more succinctly, "Hey man, whatever gets them in, I’m fine with."
Which isn't to say the two stars never had apprehensions about their movie's subject matter. Radcliffe says that when Swiss Army Man first started gaining attention, he was a bit apprehensive. "There was like a week when the film first came out and all the headlines came out on Twitter where I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about that label," he explains. "But then when Dan Kwan and Dan Schneinert won their directing award at Sundance, and they said like, 'if you haven’t heard of it, we’re the farting boner corpse movie,' that was the moment that I was like, OK, we’re officially owning that label, and are proud of it."
And besides, he adds: "I would hate for people to think that I’m trying to pull back from it being the farting corpse movie... when else would I get to be in a film that’s called something like that?"
Although, he adds a moment later with a laugh, maybe it's not a one-time thing, after all. "Wouldn’t it be weird if this was only like, the first sequence of farting across the waves that I do in my career?"
Weird would be an understatement. It's hard to imagine any future movie of the actor's, though, generating quite the same amount of talk and controversy as Swiss Army Man, which started getting attention after its Sundance premiere in January that hasn't slowed down since. Although both Dano and Radcliffe admit they had a few moments of apprehension leading into the film's release, they both seem like they couldn't be happier with how it's been received.
"I definitely felt vulnerable about it, but I think in a good way," says Dano. "We took a leap, but I think that there’s something really beautiful by taking leaps like that."
Adds Radcliffe, "I think it’s great for movies to divide people and get people talking, that’s awesome. But I also think we are a lot less of a controversial film than perhaps we had been made out to be."
Quite possibly, but there's no denying that Swiss Army Man definitely fits outside the box. Take its examination of gender, for instance; much of the movie sees Hank dressing as a woman in order to teach Manny what love is and act out his friend's romantic fantasies. The scenes are humorous, but not meant to be dismissed as jokes; Manny's cross-dressing is intended to be an example of the close bond shared between the two men.
"There’s something to the fact that normally, any kind of intimacy or romance between two friends is often played for comic effect, which it isn’t in this," Radcliffe says. "It’s a very sincere love story, and a very sincere attempt to teach somebody about the world."
Adds Dano, "Hank is somebody who’s so lonely and ashamed of himself and couldn’t connect with anybody, and suddenly he’s dressing up — that's the kind of going out on a limb he wouldn’t have gone out on in the real world."
And it's exactly the kind of moving, fascinating scene that makes Swiss Army Man — and its two lead actors — so compelling.