When it was first announced that Daniel Radcliffe was to play “Weird Al” Yankovic in a biopic, you could sense people weren’t sure what was happening. Was it a brilliant casting choice, or a strange attempt at “prestige” filmmaking? You’d think the trailer for Weird: The Al Yankovic Story would have clarified things, but some still didn’t understand if they were witnessing a very weird Oscar grab or a very Weird parody.
Of course, that sort of earnestness is exactly what’s made “Weird Al” such a lasting legend — and what’s made Weird one of our top films of 2022.
“I kind of wish we weren’t doing all the publicity for it because we had to give away some secrets and kind of the gist of the concept,” “Weird Al” tells Consequence during a November Zoom interview a few weeks after the film’s release. “Because I wanted people to watch the movie thinking maybe for the first half an hour, maybe this happened, maybe this is true. And then like, ‘Oh, obviously this is not true!'”
There are a few factual nuggets in the basic story, but the plot — including a destructive relationship with Madonna and a battle with Pablo Escobar — all comes from the cooky, creative minds of Yankovic and filmmaker Eric Appel. That’s why Radcliffe was the perfect choice for Al: He was someone who knew exactly how to walk outlandish material straight down the line.
Calling Radcliffe a “phenomenal actor,” Yankovic pointed to the actor’s recent work as a proof that he was right for the part. “He’s really gone to some dark places and done some really intense things, and we wanted somebody who could play the comedy but first and foremost who could play this ridiculous material very seriously.”
Which isn’t to say he’s completely escaped his most famous role, as Yankovic noted during a bit of onset hesitation. “When we were doing the performance of ‘Amish Paradise,’ he was a little reluctant to wear the Amish glasses because they looked to him a little like Harry Potter glasses. And we’re like, ‘No, man. That’s kinda the thing; that’s what I’m wearing in the video. You gotta.'”