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LONDON – Daniel Radcliffe watches a lot of comedies and wanted to try his hand at a project with comedic elements, the Harry Potter star said here Saturday after the screening of his new British TV comedy drama project with Jon Hamm.
Playhouse Presents….A Young Doctor’s Notebook is a four-part series with Hamm that BSkyB’s Sky Arts 1 will launch on Dec. 6.
Of course, Radcliffe couldn’t avoid a question about J.K. Rowling‘s new book, The Casual Vacancy, her first novel since the Harry Potter franchise.
Asked if he had read the Rowling novel that hit book stores this week, Radcliffe said: “I have not, and I plan to.”
In the Sky Arts program based on short stories from Russian writer and playwright Mikhail Bulgakov, Radcliffe and Hamm play the same character, a doctor, at different stages of his life. The doctor struggles with the treatment of his patients, but also some inner demons.
In his short stories, Bulgakov drew on his experience as a young medic in a small Russian village.
Hamm plays the older doctor who has exchanges with his younger self, played by Radcliffe.
The project, which will be shopped at Mipcom next month, is from independent producer Big Talk in association with Point West Pictures, the production firm run by Hamm and partner Jennifer Westfeldt.
“I watch mostly comedy,” Radcliffe said Saturday night after the screening at London’s SoHo Hotel. “I definitely wanted to do something that’s funny. But episodes three and four also get really dark and sad.”
He also said he has been a fan of Russian author Bulgakov for years. “I am sort of an obsessive Bulgakov fan,” he said, sharing that he first read the author’s The Master and Margarita, which he called “the most exciting work of imagination” he had ever read. “When I first met with Jon, I was nearly too enthusiastic.”
Radcliffe also said he spent his 21st birthday in Bulgakov’s house in Russia.
The actor and writers of the project expressed an interest in working on a potential second season of the Sky Arts show.
Radcliffe on Friday finished production on The F Word in Ireland and is early Sunday flying to Vancouver to film fantasy-thriller Horns, directed by Alexandre Aja and based on the best-selling cult novel by Joe Hill.
Hamm couldn’t attend Saturday’s event, because he was celebrating the 40th birthday of a close friend on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. “I am stuck on the Amalfi Coast,” Radcliffe read from an email he said Hamm had sent him earlier in the day to read to the audience. “I am quite simply gutted,” Hamm quipped.
He also called Radcliffe his “comrade in arms” and promised the British audience to work on his English accent.
“He’s one of the best,” Radcliffe said about working with Hamm. “He is really funny and incredibly personable. The thing I haven’t heard people say is he is also one of the best technical actors.” For example, Hamm at one point suggested a camera set-up that would save the production team time since A Young Doctor’s Notebook had to be shot in 20 days in Middlesex, England.
And, Radcliffe recalled, it took Hamm only 30 seconds to coreograph an on-screen fight between the two stars.
Asked about a scene, in which the two stars share a bath, Radcliffe said: “It was great, because you know you are the envy of every woman ever.” But he said he had thought the bath scene would be fun, because everyone likes baths. “But you forget water gets cold,” he quipped.
Hamm asked Radcliffe to record all his lines once, so the American actor could get a better feel for the British accent. “I don’t know if my tapes helped, but he was pretty flawless,” Radcliffe said.
The Playhouse Presents series of 30-minute projects by or featuring big industry names launched on Sky Arts earlier this year and previously included projects starring the likes of Emma Thompson, Harry Shearer and singer Tom Jones in his first acting role.
Disccusing the gore that is part of the Sky Arts series, Radcliffe said he liked it, even though an amputation scene “was really tough.” He recalled: “The prostatic leg was so good that you had all the layers – fat, muscle, bone.”
Radcliffe said he got so used to playing a doctor that on the third shooting day he joked with the team that if anyone ever asks if there’s a doctor on a plane, he felt he could step in.
With the series launching in December, Radcliffe was also asked what he likes about Christmas. “A Young Doctor’s Notebook on Sky Arts,” he replied instantly, laughing before thinking and quipping: “I don’t know – carols?” But he admitted that like others he likes “selfish things like getting presents.”
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