Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm share a tub and the small screen in "A… (Ovation )
Daniel Radcliffe has been a huge movie star since skyrocketing to worldwide fame as Harry Potter when he was just 11, but that doesn't mean the now 24-year-old can't be floored by new opportunities. He was "incredibly flattered" to be asked by Jon Hamm to play a younger version of the "Mad Men" star's character in a low-budget but top-drawer TV miniseries, for example.
"It makes me feel fantastic, are you joking?" Radcliffe told me Monday by phone from London. "It's just a lovely thing."
In "A Young Doctor's Notebook," premiering at 9 p.m. CT Oct. 2 on Ovation, Radcliffe plays the unnamed title character as a newly graduated physician who ministers to the people of a backwater Russian village in 1917. Hamm plays the same character as a middle-aged, morphine-addicted Moscow doctor reminiscing about his early career and trying to figure out where it all went wrong.
Despite playing the same character, Radcliffe and Hamm interact in the four half-hour episodes as if the older doctor is walking through his own history and, according to Radcliffe, "giving me a hard time."
One scene in particular has had tongues wagging in Britain, and likely will here, too. The two doctors share a bath.
"It was all right," Radcliffe said of sudsing with Hamm. "When we got in the bath with each other we were like, ‘Oh, this shot is gonna go everywhere. We are going to be seeing this photo in many years to come.'"
Apparently they hop in a tub again in the second season which he just finished filming outside of London. Radcliffe said he was given "possibly my greatest piece of memorabilia" from a set just the other day: the loofah they use. "So I can sell that one day if I ever come on hard times," he joked.
It's doubtful the actor will come on hard times. "Notebook" is just the latest in a series of interesting career choices Radcliffe has made since he became the star of "Harry Potter." To name just a few, he stripped naked on stage for the well-received "Equus," starred in the horror flick "The Woman in Black" and, in the upcoming film "Kill Your Darlings," has a gay sex scene while playing beat poet Allen Ginsberg. (It is showing Oct. 11 as part of the Chicago International Film Festival.)
Based on the autobiographical short stories of Mikhail Bulgakov, "A Young Doctor's Notebook" is airing in the U.S. on Ovation, a boutique network that won't give it nearly the eyeballs as the "Harry Potter" films, or even AMC's "Mad Men."
That doesn't bother the obviously enthusiastic Radcliffe, who counts himself lucky to have the luxury to choose roles based solely on whether they are interesting to him. And anything based on the work of Bulgakov, his favorite author, interests him.
"I just always loved his style of writing," he said. "He's got such a great imagination and such a great sense of humor as a writer, but he's also incredibly emotionally powerful."
A lot of the emotion—and many a dark laughs—come from blood-drenched scenes in which Radcliffe performs an amputation here and a tracheotomy there. In the first episode, he pulls part of a man's jawbone from his skull while trying to extract just one tooth—and it's hilarious. Radcliffe joked that he's become so good at his gory surgical scenes that he's ready to try a medical procedure for real.
"No not an amputation, but if there was an emergency on a plane and they needed somebody to do a tracheotomy on somebody I would love to have a go," he said, laughing. "The part of the series that I absolutely love is the fact that it is so bloody and gory."
Radcliffe and I talked more about the minseries, his career choices and how he, like the young doctor he plays, has suffered crises of confidence. Before that, check out the preview below.
I loved "Notebook," but was not expecting all the gore.
No, no. No one is when they go into it, but it's definitely become something of a [trademark]. We recently finished shooting the second series and we had a moment ... when the production company actually said to us, "Guys, I think we need a bit more blood in this series." We kind of established it's all sort of one of our trademarks now--the mixing of a very bloody gore with comedy. And at one point in the second series we were like, "We think we need a little bit more blood because there's a certain expectation now that has to be met." But yeah, no, it is a very gory, funny show. I'm glad you liked it.