While romance is nothing new to the characters Daniel Radcliffe has portrayed, it tends to be romance of the unconventional, unrequited, or even unspoken variety. Whether fixated on horses in the psychodrama Equus, or as Allen Ginsberg, moonstruck over heartbreaker Lucien Carr in the underrated Kill Your Darlings, and of course as the boy wizard who comes up short in the Hermoine-stakes, more often than not, happy endings of the romantic sort have eluded Dan’s characters. He knows from pining away.
And, pine he does throughout much of his latest, What If?. He plays Wallace, an affable, Princess Bride-loving Englishman living in Toronto, hopelessly smitten with Chantry (gotta love these names), breezily played by Zoe Kazan. She’s got a boyfriend about twice Wallace’s size, who doesn’t take kindly to glib interlopers looking in his girl’s direction. So, Wallace keeps his feelings for Chantry frustratingly under wraps, confiding only in his horn-dog of a buddy (Adam Driver). And yet, from the start, you know that somehow, someway Wallace will get the girl.
It may be a modern, sometimes raunchier take on the genre, but What If? is still a romantic comedy, where things work out in the end. When I sat down with the ridiculously talented Rad, he still had a few weeks left on Broadway in the revival of Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan, and we talked about his first foray into the rom-com world; finally escaping itchy period costumes; the upcoming Victor Frankenstein, in which he plays the hunchback Igor; and this summer’s long-awaited reunion of one of his musical favorites, The Libertines.