Earlier this year, Daniel Radcliffe received a WhatsOnStage Award for his performance as "Cripple" Billy Claven in Michael Grandage's West End revival of Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan. A few short months later, Radcliffe was reprising his performance, along with his entire London company, in the show's Broadway outing at the Cort Theatre The dark comedy is yet another extreme theatrical choice for the young actor. After gaining worldwide recognition as Harry Potter, Radcliffe has branched out with roles that are remarkably unlike that character, with requirements such as full-frontal nudity (in Equus) and tap dancing (in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying).
Here, he had to learn how to move his body in a very particular way, in order to convey Billy's disability. Radcliffe shared his experiences with TheaterMania for our Final Bow.
1. What is your favorite line that you delivered?
It's a line that goes for nothing every night but is revealing about Billy's character. Babbybobby is talking about throwing bricks at cows. He says, "They don't mind, I threw a brick at a cow once and he didn't even moo," and Billy says, "Sure that's no evidence. Hey may've been a quiet cow." It's not like a big laugh line, but there's a sense that its Billy's way of saying just because someone's not saying they're unhappy, it doesn't mean they're not unhappy.
2. Everyone loves inside jokes. What is the best one from your show?
June Watson, who plays Mammy, the drunk Irish mother, has a line, "They are, I suppose." But June goes and [puts on an older Irish dialect]: "They areeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, I suppose." Offstage, you can hear every single cast member join in and then collapse into laughter. We've got so many lines that are like tongue twisters. Every night someone will trip over something [and we'll laugh].
3. Every show experiences technical difficulties. What was the worst technical difficulty experienced during your show and how was it handled?
There was a point when our revolve stopped turning during a scene. Fortunately, it had come round enough so we could do the next scene. They tried to bring the curtain down but it wouldn't, so we had to leave the stage so our crew could go to work and cut out a frayed cable in the revolve. I think we stopped for a maximum of ten minutes. The crew is fantastic.
4. What was the most "interesting" present someone gave you at the stage door?
I've been given lots of cow-themed things because of Billy's fascination with cows. I still get given, lots of people give this to me, books of photographs of myself. They compile them like a scrapbook, which is really sweet, but I don't know how vain they think I must be to look at posed photos of myself. There's been nothing too creepy or freaky, which is good.
5. Who is the coolest person who came to see your show? (You can't say family!)
Jessica Lange came in; that was pretty cool. Estelle Parsons was awesome. They were the people we were most excited about.
6. Why did you choose to return to Broadway in an ensemble piece such as this, as opposed to a star vehicle like Equus?
I guess I didn't look at it and say, "This is a great part"; I looked at the play and said, "This is a great part in a great play." I just thought I'd be doing a great play. I didn't realize at the time that I'd be getting three scenes off in the middle, which was lovely. In How to Succeed, when I wasn't onstage, I was changing, so it was very busy. It's very nice to do a play where you do get some time to yourself. And working with such a great ensemble has been really exciting.
7. Martin McDonagh doesn't specify what Billy's disability is. What did you decide in that respect to develop your character?
I looked at the script and the details that were given. People talk about the fact that Billy's disability was present at birth and was quite extreme. They talk about him shuffling and not being able to row a boat, so there's not much strength there. I looked into a version of cerebral palsy called hemiplegia, which I studied. It was quite an odd thing to learn how to do; it would just feel very odd to learn to walk like that. But it was fascinating. I'm glad I got to explore that.
8. Of all the jokes about Billy that get made throughout the course of the play, which one do you personally find funniest?
The funniest joke of the play is actually made about Billy's mother. He says, "I've heard my mother was a beautiful woman," and the Doctor goes, "No, she was awful ugly. She'd scare a pig." It's such an awful and funny line.
9. Sarah Greene told us she can no longer eat eggs because she has to toss them onstage so often. Are you still able to eat eggs?
Oh, I'm fine, 'cause I'm not really near those things. I'm really glad about it. I don't know what I'd be able to do without eating eggs.
10. If you could talk Rupert Grint and Emma Watson into starring with you in a play or musical, which one would it be?
I'm thinking of things that have one girl and two guys, and the first one was Merrily We Roll Along. Let's go with that.
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