Interview with Daniel Radcliffe

Whitney Spaner

Daniel Radcliffe may call London home, but since making his Broadway debut in the 2008 revival of Equus, he just can't seem to get enough of New York City. He's currently starring in his third Broadway show, the Tony-nominated revival of Martin McDonagh's black comedy The Cripple of Inishmaan, which takes place on Ireland's sparsely populated Aran Islands during the shooting of hotshot director Robert Flaherty's pioneering 1934 ethnographic film, Man of Aran. In what many say is McDonagh's most sensitive play, Radcliffe contorts his body to play the disabled orphan Cripple Billy, who dreams of dating Slippy Helen, the meanest girl in town, and making it big in Hollywood. Having hoped this production, directed by Michael Grandage, would bring him back to Broadway after a sold-out run in London's West End last summer, the Harry Potter star talks to us about spending this summer in the City and what it is about New York that keeps him wanting more.

What do you look forward to doing in New York each time you come back? Daniel Radcliffe: The food here is wonderful—not that I'm particularly sophisticated by any stretch of the imagination. I live in the West Village, and I go to Ditch Plains all the time. I recently got really excited because I realized it was owned by Marc Murphy, one of the judges on Chopped. Commerce is also fantastic, and my friend just introduced me to The Grey Dog. I also love this place called Fat Cat because I enjoy playing Ping-Pong. The whole cast of the show and I went there not long ago, and it was awesome. The place I always used to go for dinner after shows—which I haven't actually been to this time yet—is Angus McIndoe [now called Angus' Café Bistro]. It's a very welcoming place. The guy who runs it is Scottish, so it's a little bit of Britain away from Britain.

The rest of the actors in your cast are all Irish. Are you showing them around New York? DR: I've shown them a few spots, and we'll all go out to dinner together sometimes, but they don't need me to show them how to have a good time. Pat Shortt, who plays JohnnyPateenMike, is a fantastic musician with a real passion for jazz, so he's been going to the Village Vanguard and Birdland. But we're all having a pretty fantastic time. That's one of the reasons I was so excited to do the show—I wanted to be able to come to New York again.

What about New York is more enjoyable to you than London? DR: I don't know if it's because in London we do sort of have gray weather the whole year round, but there is a genuine positivity to New York. London is quite a cynical city in some ways—it doesn't have quite the same energy about it that New York does. London is always going to be my home—it's where I was born and where I'm from—but I definitely enjoy spending time here.

What's one of your favorite things to do in New York? DR: Running. Now I'll run up the West Side Highway, but when I was doing Equus, I was living on the Upper West Side and I would go to Central Park. I think that's one of the more fun experiences you can have, particularly if you're competitive like me, because there are always going to be enough people there to have a race—even if they don't know they're in a race. You can find other people to focus on and then run to.

What is something new that you've discovered in New York this time around? DR: I went rock climbing at a place called Brooklyn Boulders. I had to go there to film something and ended up being there for quite a few hours. I love all that kind of outdoorsy, rock-climbing-type stuff. There's a climbing wall, but they've also got a section for free climbing with crash mats on it and overhangs. It's really cool.

In the show your disabled stance and movements are very physical and involved. Are you exhausted afterward? DR: No, not particularly. Rehearsing a show is a phenomenal routine for embedding something into your muscle memory. It's sort of the same way you learn a dance. The first time I did “Brotherhood of Man” in rehearsal [for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying], I was knackered. But by the time you get to the performances, you've done it for so long that it's in your body. It's something you don't have to struggle for anymore. The same goes for the physicality of this show. I've worked with myself a lot, and it's become second nature for me to stand like that in the show. It's so comfortable that there are moments where I sort of have a panic on stage and think that I might just have let the physicality drop.

You've performed this play in both London and New York. Have you noticed differences in the audiences' reactions? DR: I think the general difference between them is that you get the same kind of laughs with London audiences, but you won't really get the gasps and the “oohs” and “aahs” and all the other noises you guys make over here, which are awesome. There was a woman in the audience the other day who would be like “ugh!” every time Sarah Greene's character, Helen, says something despicable to me. She was getting really annoyed. I love that. And then people sort of clap at the end here where there's this kind of life-affirming moment and a kiss. That wouldn't happen in London. British audiences are more reserved.

What plans do you have for summer in the City? Are you going to go out to the Hamptons? DR: I don't have time to go to the Hamptons! I will just be going to parks and chilling out with friends there. There's nothing more enjoyable than sitting with friends and reading and talking rubbish on a brilliant, sunny New York day.