Daniel Radcliffe has played a lot of weird characters in his time.
Daniel Radcliffe spent almost a decade of his life playing the part of JK Rowlings‘ iconic boy who lived. After nine movies, it was inevitable that he’d become inextricably tied to the character. That hasn’t stopped Radcliffe from doing everything in his power to avoid being typecast, however, and this list of all the unusual roles he’s played shows his willingness to try anything that isn’t Harry Potter, no matter how out-of-character it seems.
9. Weird Al in Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (2022)
One of Daniel Radcliffe’s most recent roles puts him in the shoes of world-famous parody musician Weird Al, despite the fact that Weird Al is very much alive (he wrote the screenplay for the film, even). The story follows a made-up version of Weird Al’s life that follows the cliched musical biopic formula in the most absurd ways possible.
It all starts with Weird Al losing his parents’ love after getting caught at a shady, underground polka party, then moves on to even more bizarre plot points from there. These include Al’s fame being exploited by the struggling musician Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood), and then Al getting blackmailed into performing for a drug lord’s birthday party.
8. Tim Jenkin in Escape from Pretoria (2020)
Perhaps the exact opposite of performing in an upbeat parody biopic, Daniel Radcliffe plays an uber-serious South African political prisoner who works with his fellow protestor to escape from the infamous Pretoria Central Prison, which had held South African activist (and future President) Nelson Mandela as he awaited trial.
Despite wearing a very unconvincing wig and sporting an even less-convincing South African accent, Daniel Radcliffe managed to pull off a convincing performance of an ordinary man pulling off an extraordinary feat in extreme circumstances. In fact, critics are almost unanimous in saying that Radcliffe is the main reason to watch the dark, bleak prison break film, which manages to strike an almost polar opposite tone of the wonder-filled Wizarding World.
7. Ezekiel in Miracle Workers (2019-2021)
Back in the day, fundamentalist religious groups rose up in protest against the witchcraft on display in Harry Potter. They’d have thrown an even bigger conniption if they had an inkling what Daniel Radcliffe was up to in Miracle Workers, TBS’s supernatural comedy anthology series. Think Touched by an Angel, only God (played by Steve Buscemi) has lost interest in earth and it’s up to a team of angels, led by Radcliffe, to answer prayers in God’s absence.
The three irreverent seasons span three different time periods — modern day, the middle ages, and the Oregon Trail. A fourth, post-apocalyptic season has released several episodes, but is difficult to stream.
6. Miles in Guns Akimbo (2019)
There’s no need to dress up the absurdity of Daniel Radcliffe’s 2019 action comedy — a straightforward explanation of the plot is enough. His character, a hacker named Miles, gets his hands permanently bolted to a pair of guns as he’s forced to participate in a live-streamed death match against a crazed killer named Nix.
The majority of the movie revolves around Miles trying desperately not to die, trying to save his kidnapped ex-girlfriend, and looking for a way out of having to kill anyone. That last part… doesn’t turn out too well, as Guns Akimbo has no shortage of blood and carnage.
5. Yossi Ghinsberg in Jungle (2017)
Daniel Radcliffe’s 2017 adventure film is apparently based on a true story, which makes the events portrayed baffling. He plays the Israeli adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg (whose real-life counterpart co-wrote the films) as he and two friends go on a trek through the Amazon rainforest alongside a stranger who claims to know the way to a hidden tribe. However, it turns out this stranger has no idea what he’s doing, and the group gets separated and hopelessly lost.
It turns out that this stranger is a wanted criminal who is known for luring hikers onto dangerous expeditions for reasons that are never made clear. The movie ends with two characters still missing and no answers given about what the heck actually happened — which is apparently how the real story ends as well.
4. Walter Mabry in Now You See Me 2 (2016)
The original Now You See Me was a fun magician-themed heist film with a somewhat disappointing ending and a twist that only kind of made sense. Now You See Me 2 decided that the real meat and potatoes of the film should be layer upon layer of barely-believable twists. At the center of this second film is Daniel Radcliffe, playing a villain who believes he’s the son of one of the previous film’s villains and is out for revenge.
The sheer manic energy that Daniel Radcliffe brings to the film makes it worth watching regardless of how well you’re able to suspend disbelief regarding the film’s more nonsensical elements.
3. Manny in Swiss Army Man (2016)
In Swiss Army Man, Daniel Radcliffe plays a dead body named Manny. He’s the film’s co-star. That’s not even the weird part.
The dead, limp, and flatulent Manny accompanies a hopeless castaway, played by The Fablemans star Paul Dano, helping the pair escape a desert island by farting his way across the ocean. He then helps them make their way through the wilderness back to civilization using even more superpowers that center around his other bodily functions. And that’s just the beginning of the film.
This is a real movie that people made. And it’s a surprisingly good movie on top of that. It won the best director award at the Sundance Film Festival and has a decent 72% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
2. Igor in Victor Frankenstein (2015)
In what many critics consider one of the worst adaptations of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to ever grace the silver screen, Daniel Radcliff plays the film’s main character: Igor. A circus clown with a penchant for medicine, Igor is invited by Dr. Frankenstein to collaborate on his ill-fated attempts to cure death. As anyone who has even heard about the Frankenstein story can guess, these experiments do not go so well.
Victor Frankenstein leans heavily into a steampunk aesthetic, and it takes a unique — if not entirely good — approach to the well-tread ground of the classic sci-fi story. Many critics have said it’s unfortunate to see well-known actors such as Daniel Radcliffe and his co-star James McAvoy reduced to such a poor showing. However, for Radcliffe, it’s just another step along the path to hopefully, one day, being seen as someone besides Harry Potter.
1. Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings (2013)
It’s a bit unusual to see a formerly family-friendly face like Daniel Radcliffe take up the role of the controversial Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg, whose most famous poem, Howl, was a peyote-inspired, sexually-charged, anti-establishment masterpiece that ended up at the center of a much-publicized obscenity trial.
Radcliff plays a younger Ginsberg at Columbia University, caught up in the center of a murder trial after his friend Lucien Carr kills English professor David Kammerer. The incident inspires Ginsberg to write a treatise about the slaying that gets him kicked out of his prestigious university but still manages to kickstart his literary career.