Daniel Radcliffe Interview
Source ITV 1, 31st October 2007
What attracted you to this project?
The story was the first thing that attracted me. It’s tragic and beautifully written. I think the strength of the story is the key thing that draws anybody to a drama. You can have a good character to play, but it doesn’t amount to anything if it’s a weak story.
Did it give you an idea of what World War I would have been like?
All war is, to a certain extent, beyond anyone’s imagination, but particularly what it must have felt like to be “in the trenches”. These were probably some of the worst conditions any human has had to deal with, certainly in the 20th century. But hopefully this will help ensure that people never experience those dreadful conditions again.
What was the set like?
To recreate the WW1 trenches was an amazing experience. The moment we drove up to this field in Ireland and opened the door, we were suddenly in no man’s land; it was really haunting and strange and eerie. It was actually incredibly exhilarating to be in the middle of it.
How did you film the battle scenes?
We’d all be sitting there in the rain and mud, chatting to each other before a take and then we’d get up and dash through explosions, which were going off on all sides of us. There were markers dotted across this battlefield where the explosions were and then we’d start filming and they’d take them away and start the rain machines, so our vision would be reduced by about 70 per cent.
It sounds miserable
It wasn’t so much the physical side of filming which was difficult – you just get on with it – it was having the mental stamina to deal with the cold and the rain. It was pretty intense. People were offering blankets and tea and we were reluctant to take them because, in a strange way, all of that cold and discomfort really really helps the performance. It helps you to get into character, experiencing an element of what they must have felt. I suppose the hardest thing about it was being able to keep up with the pace of filming as well.
Was it very different from your experience filming Harry Potter?
On Harry Potter, we’ll do maybe two scenes a day, most likely just the one, whereas on My Boy Jack we’d be doing about five or six. When I was in all of them, they were very long days. But I quite like throwing myself into things and if you’re prepared and you turn up on time and learn the lines for all the scenes that day then you shouldn’t really have a problem.
And your character, Jack, seemed desperate to go to war. Why do you think that is?
Jack is rebuffed twice by two different medical boards but he doesn’t give up hope. If his dad hadn’t found a way in for him I have no doubt he probably would have tried to join the ranks, although in Jack’s social class that’s probably almost as bad as not going to war at all.
Does he do it just because his father wants him to?
No, I hope people realise Jack is not just going because his father wants him to go, he is absolutely going for himself and he genuinely wants to be out there fighting, as I think most people did. To be at home and to be viewed as unfit to fight was such a deeply humiliating experience.