John Krokidas makes his feature film directorial debut with Kill Your Darlings, a biographical drama that looks at the lives of four famous poets (Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Lucien Caar and William Burroughs) and the formation of the beat movement, which they were at the forefront of.
The film focuses mainly on Ginsberg as he heads off to Columbia University to study English and literature, and ends up getting to know Lucien Carr, who introduces him to a group of passionate writers which includes Kerouac, Burroughs and the lesser known David Kammerer. Their relationships, however, become fractured in 1944 when Carr murders Kammerer, and the boys are left wondering how they can possibly resolve this situation in a way where everyone comes out alright.
Recently, we got to meet up with the cast of Kill Your Darlings at the film’s press conference, which was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, California. In attendance were Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Dane DeHaan (In Treatment, Chronicle) and Michael C. Hall (Dexter). During their discussion, they talked about what drew them to the project, why these historical figures have so much staying power, what type of research they did for the film and more.
Check out the interview below and enjoy!
What was it that really resonated with you in the script and the characters, and was there anything that really surprised you that you didn’t know about beforehand?
Dane DeHaan: Lucien Carr to me was entirely a surprise. I didn’t really know that he existed and I didn’t know that this story actually happened, so it was all kind of a surprise. He had this kind of charisma and this extroverted quality to him that I think is different from the work I’ve done in the past, but he’s still a really complicated individual. He just seemed like a really hard person to wrap my mind around, and that’s kind of what attracted me to him. But he was a completely new person to me as a whole.
Daniel Radcliffe: Reading Allen’s diaries from when he was a teenager combined with the character that I saw in the script, he was just somebody I found very likable, almost immediately. He seemed by all accounts, and from people who talk about him, to have been very kind and warm and very good company. Also, the diaries reveal him to be this kind of really interesting mix of someone who had immense confidence in their intellect and a very rich inner life, but that doesn’t marry up with what they presented to the world at that time because he was still quite reserved and shy as a young man. He was definitely an interesting character regardless of what else he went on to do in terms of being a poet. The man that was in the script was interesting in of himself.
Michael C. Hall: I was aware of this story through my period of fascination with the beats, and I was excited that it was being told as well as it was in John and Austin Bunn’s script. I was excited more specifically about the opportunity to humanize and sympathize with this guy who is sort of a footnote in a lot of accounts of the formative years of the beat generation. He was, if anything, characterized as a two-dimensional stalker, so I like that the movie seemed to aspire to round him out a bit. That was appealing.
Michael, were you able to do a lot of research about David Kammerer? There is a lot of information about the other writers featured in this movie, but not nearly as much on him.
Michael C. Hall: Yeah, there was relatively little but there was enough in The Book of Martydom and Artiface and Allen Ginsberg’s journals. There are some real-time accounts of his (Ginsberg’s) first meeting with David Kammerer so that was really helpful. There was enough where I could make informed choices as I filled in the blanks that were there. There was some research but it was an imaginative exercise too.
Daniel, you have gone from being a child actor in the Harry Potter movies to an adult actor now. Has your point of view as an actor changed between then and now?
Daniel Radcliffe: Yeah. Since finishing Potter it’s been a huge journey for me just in terms of I’ve never worked with different crews before or with different groups of actors before. The Woman in Black was filmed in England, and if you’ve done a Harry Potter film you are never going to work again in England without knowing somebody on the crew because they employed a lot of the same people. So doing Kill Your Darlings was a huge thing for me because it meant that I was not going to be working with anybody I knew, and you have to sort of find out who you are again on a film set. It felt like starting fresh in a way and that was really exciting. Working with John Krokidas, he introduced me to techniques and ways of working that I never have been shown before. I don’t know what point exactly, but I think from doing How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and through Kill Your Darlings was a big transition for me in terms of the way I worked.