These beat writers and poets have such a staying power, and it seems like every generation relates to it in some way. Why do you think there is such staying power with these guys?
Michael C. Hall: I think we’re still feeling the ripple effects of the cultural phenomenon in the revolution that they perhaps started. I think the fascination with their work probably does coincide with a period when you are coming into awareness of the ways in which, whatever conventions there are, might constrain you. It speaks to that awareness and appetite to transcend or break those boundaries or chains.
Daniel Radcliffe: In terms of the beats, I think there’s something about the way they did what they did. As someone who grew up outside the United States, the thing I compared them to and the thing I used as my sort of point of connection to them is the punk movement between 1975 and 1979, just because it had the same kind of excited nihilism to it; just about tearing everything apart and starting all over again. There’s something really thrilling about that.
My English teacher used to say something which I think definitely applies to the beats about how there are two types of poets in the world: there are people who write poetically about their lives and there are people who live politically and write about it. There’s a wild abandon that goes along with them that even if you don’t get every reference for every illusion, because a lot of poetry is incredibly dense, you can kind of get swept up in the rhythm and the excitement of it.
Dane DeHaan: I think that their effect on today’s society is kind of amazing. It’s not just that their books are still celebrated and read, but they were the original hipsters. Where I live in Brooklyn, I can’t walk down the street without seeing at least 10 people dressed exactly like Jack Kerouac. It’s really insane. Their books had this huge impact but also what they stood for and how they dressed, all that stuff still resonates today.
Is there any difference in playing people of that period as opposed to playing people who are contemporary?
Dane DeHaan: Yes, absolutely. It’s not like a terribly conscious effort. They certainly spoke differently and I think that the script does a really good job of capturing the characters and their individual voices and also emulating the way people would talk in the 40s. Just having an awareness of what’s going on around you and the politics of the time, these were just people that, if they expressed how they truly felt about some things, could be criminalized and they would go to jail. So that obviously has a deep impact on how you act with those around you, just having that awareness of what you’re doing.
Daniel Radcliffe: The one example I can think of as well that sort of speaks to that is the moment before Dane and I kiss in the park. Not only is it a big moment because he wants to kiss him for the first time, but also he does have to check around and see if anyone is there. It does sort of inform choices and stuff like that, but it’s not something you focus on dogmatically.
Michael C. Hall: I would agree with all of that, especially with the job that our wardrobe people did. The script is so well rendered that a lot of it could be unconscious like Dane said. You just give over to living in a world that is contextualized in a totally different way, and everybody has different things that are useful whether it’s listening to music or putting on their clothes.
Was there any sort of research you did into the time period? We were told that movies like Gilda were a big inspiration.
Daniel Radcliffe: The thing I did find very helpful was the music of the period. Even if it wasn’t exactly period, there’s some stuff there that sounds evocative of a time period. I ended up listening to a lot of Joe Stafford who I had never come across before.
In the film, Allen and Lucien are very excited about disrupting the established order of the literary movement. Arguably, as actors you have taken some very challenging roles. Are you excited about the opportunity that you can take to challenge maybe the rigid, more formulaic parts of the film industry with some of these roles that you play?
Daniel Radcliffe: Um, yeah. I’m not sure I’d say that I was challenging the system, but I like to think that if the choices I make are slightly unexpected or challenging to people then that is good. That can’t be a bad thing. I don’t know if it’s in any way railing against the industry, but I also think that we are definitely three like-minded people in terms of what we value in scripts and in storytelling. I think we are all on the lookout for challenging material.
Michael C. Hall: I’m certainly drawn to things that, in one way or another, could be characterized as subversive.