IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Daniel Radcliffe on playing a very shirtless 'Weird Al' in new satirical biopic

The "Harry Potter" star shared why he's often not donning a shirt in the film, which debuts on The Roku Channel on Friday.
Image: Daniel Radcliffe in "WEIRD: The Al Yancovic Story".
Daniel Radcliffe in "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story."Roku via Youtube

When people think of "Weird Al" Yankovic, they usually think of comedic takes on hit songs from his heyday in the 1980s and 1990s.

They likely don't ever think of him as regularly shirtless.

But in the upcoming “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story,” actor Daniel Radcliffe plays a very exaggerated version of Yankovic, who quite often appears shirtless on screen. After the movie's trailer dropped, many "thirsting" fans quickly began to notice.

"I'm shirtless more as 'Weird Al' than as anything I’ve done since 'Equus,'" Radcliffe said in a recent interview, referring to his post-"Harry Potter" Broadway stint for which he had to strip naked on stage.

The satirical biopic of the Grammy-winning singer is an extension of a Funny or Die sketch, which was first posted online in 2010 and starred Aaron Paul as Yankovic.

The film, like Yankovic's songs, is full-on parody. It pokes fun at the tropes seen in many biopics, particularly those about musicians — the parents who don't support your dream, becoming an instant hit, having conflict with your band, etc.

“The idea was to do a biopic about someone who was still living and just fabricate everything and make up all the details,” director Eric Appel said last month at a screening of the film at Beyond Fest in Santa Monica, California.

At the time the online sketch was being developed, Yankovic expressed his support for the concept. He and Appel met over coffee to discuss it further. In the years after the short video's release, Yankovic began playing it at his shows. According to Appel, people would then approach the singer asking if there was a movie version of the sketch in the works.

In February 2019, Yankovic reached out to Appel to begin developing what would become "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story," which debuts on The Roku Channel on Friday.

Appel said he and Yankovic decided on Radcliffe as the titular role pretty quickly.

"He’s a great dramatic actor and comedic actor," Appel said. "The choices he’s made post-'Harry Potter' are bold."

News of Radcliffe's casting went viral, and the trailer prompted mass discussion over his transformation into the iconic role.

"my favorite gag from weird al’s biopic is how daniel radcliffe is ripped and constantly shirtless for no reason," one Twitter user wrote.

However, Radcliffe's shirtlessness throughout the film wasn't really planned.

“We didn’t like know that until he shot the scenes,” Appel said, joking that “everyone on set was like ‘whoa.’”

Radcliffe himself said he didn’t get into any physical shape for the role specifically. He did, however, grow his own mustache for the part and donned a wig to capture Yankovic’s look.

While Radcliffe does not sing in the film — Yankovic recorded all new versions of the songs specifically for movie — he does tackle playing the accordion, which he described as "really, really hard."

"But I got further with it then I sort of thought I was going to at the start," he said. "My main goal was not to become good; it was just to hopefully make Eric shoot around it less."

Radcliffe said he's "come far enough with it [playing the accordion] now that I shouldn’t just stop."

He said he hopes to continue practicing the craft. Next year, he said, one of his friends is getting married — and the friend who taught him how to play the instrument suggested they perform at the wedding.

"I don’t think it’s going to happen," he said. "But a year might be enough [practice] time."