The reviews for first-time director John Krokidas's film, Kill Your Darlings—which stars Daniel Radcliffe as a young Allen Ginsberg—are coming in after its Sundance premiere. And so far it seems critics are loving it. As the UK's The Independent stated, Radcliffe "provides a defining performance as Beat poet Allen Ginsberg." Since so much is being made of the gay sex in the film, we asked Radcliffe his thoughts.
Daniel Radcliffe: "For me, Kill Your Darlings is a film about young love in whatever form it takes. It wasn’t any more challenging than if you’re doing a [sexual] awakening scene with a girl. At no point did any of us want to do anything that would distinguish it from how we would fall in love with somebody—to my knowledge, there is no difference in how heterosexual and homosexual people fall in love. A lot of people are quick to ask if it’s a gay love story—well, yes, they are gay characters, but it’s just a love story.
The relationship between Allen [Ginsberg] and Lucien [Carr], I think is incredibly universal—you meet somebody who is far more confident, far more charismatic, and seemingly more intelligent than you, and you completely fall in love with them, and then you actually outgrow them, and they come to resent you for it. I think that’s the whole point of relationships is that they do absolutely move you on as a person, and you learn things about yourself as a person, things you like and don’t like, and things you can do better next time you are with somebody.
There were certainly relationships that I could draw on when thinking about my relationship with Lucien, and not all of them romantic relationships, some of them just relationships of professional mentorship, the couple of really great teachers I’d had—elements of all those relationships factored into Allen’s and my experience of Lucien.
Out: One of the things that our readers, certainly, find compelling about you is this sense of your instinctive comfort around people of different sexualities. For a lot of gay men that seems quite empowering.
I had an interesting conversation with someone recently, because there was a wonderful moment on the opening night of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying when one of the male chorus of the show tried to set up my bisexual dresser, who’s a woman—and who had been with a woman for a long time at that point—with my gay English singing teacher, which was never going to work.
I said, "Did you not know Mark was gay?" And he said, “To be honest, all English people I meet seem gay, so I just assume none of you are.”
I was talking to someone about this and I said, "Why is it that when people meet English men in America they automatically think they’re gay?" and one of the girls explained to me it was because American men feel the need to in some way assert a sense of masculinity in everything they do, and British men don’t feel the same compulsion to do that all the time.
I think my attitude towards homosexuality is actually the prevalent one in my generation—it’s just unfortunate that in the world of the Internet sometimes the angriest voices are the ones we hear the loudest. But I can’t remember the last time I met somebody of my age who was bigoted. Obviously it exists, but I do think attitudes are changing.