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Weird's Daniel Radcliffe And Evan Rachel Wood Discuss How They Channeled 'Weird Al' Yankovic And Madonna - Exclusive Interview

It's not often, if ever, that actors are offered the opportunity to parody a music legend. So when the king of parodies himself, "Weird Al" Yankovic, asked Daniel Radcliffe to spoof his life story and Evan Rachel Wood to channel pop great Madonna in an over-the-top way, it was simply an opportunity neither of the acclaimed actors could pass up.

Since the late 1970s, Yankovic, of course, has parodied the biggest songs in rock 'n' roll and in the process has become a rock star in his own right. From "My Bologna" — his sendup of The Knack's smash hit "My Sharona" — to his clever take on Madonna's "Like a Virgin" with "Like a Surgeon," to "Eat It" — his hilarious spoof of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" — Yankovic's contributions to the music world are legendary.

That meant that Yankovic's life story was begging to be told at some point, and fans of the beloved parody artist are finally getting it with "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story." Debuting exclusively on The Roku Channel on Friday, November 4, "Weird" chronicles Yankovic's life story, appropriately, as a parody of music biopics. Directed by Eric Appel and co-written by Appel and Yankovic, "Weird" also stars Rainn Wilson as the comedy musician's mentor, Dr. Demento; Quinta Brunson as TV talker Oprah Winfrey; and Julianne Nicholson and Toby Huss as Yankovic's parents. "Weird" is also loaded with memorable cameo appearances throughout, including Jack Black as famed D.J. Wolfman Jack.

In an exclusive interview, Radcliffe and Wood chatted with Looper about their work with Yankovic the filmmaker, their favorite Weird Al song parodies, the idea of their famous roles being spoofed, and more.

Yankovic had an encouraging and fun presence on set

Since Al is a co-writer and producer on the film — and turns in a very sneaky cameo, too — how much of a presence was he on the set? And Dan, did it influence your approach in any way?

Daniel Radcliffe: Al was on set every day, which is awesome, because he was a producer, and with this film, you got the sense it was a big deal for him. He's been trying to get this made for a long time, so I think he was really enjoying being there on set every day. He would give notes occasionally, but most of the notes he gave were musical notes that were like, "You're not pumping the accordion enough."

I also remember [how] Jack [Black] got a long dissertation on how to make the hand fart noises at one point because Jack was not getting it in the way that Al [wanted it]. Al was like, "That's not actually how you do it, so please do it like this." Those were the only things he would ever be meticulous about on set. He had been with [director] Eric [Appel] in setting the film up, but he was there as a very encouraging, fun presence.

Evan Rachel Wood: That was the best moment of Jack Black's life, when Weird Al taught him how to properly do fart noises with his hands, I think! [laughs]

Crazy for Madonna

Evan, how would you describe the moment when you heard that you were going to be cast as Madonna? Granted, it is a parody of Madonna, but it still has to be pretty cool. What was your first thought when you got the news?

Wood: I was planning on taking the rest of the year off, and then I got an email, and the first line of the email said, "You've been offered the role of Madonna," and I immediately burst out laughing because you don't expect that. I was certainly not expecting it, but then when I realized what it was and what the context was, it did start to make more sense. Then, I got excited and slightly nervous because I thought, "I know this is a parody, but I still want it to be good." You still have a lot of pressure on your shoulders when you're playing Madonna — maybe not as much [as] if you're in a biopic, but I still took it very seriously.

Do you have any idea what you might say to her if she calls and says, "I saw what you did with me in 'Weird'"?

Wood: I think she has a good sense of humor because I found out that she did actually seek out Al to do a parody of her song. So clearly, she gets the humor, so I think she'll get this, too.

Radcliffe: I think she's going to love it. I'm going to stake my name on that now. [laughs]

Weird gave Radcliffe the opportunity to do unexpected scenes

Was there any scene, Dan, when you read the script that grabbed you [and] made you think, "I have to do this"? Was it maybe the pool party scene with Jack Black, or Al and Madonna's encounter with an infamous crime lord? Or was it the call from Al's record label executive head who said, "There's a musician out there that's parodying your song"?

Radcliffe: That was one of the jokes, actually. When I got to that point in the script, the joke about "Eat It" is brilliant—

Wood: Brilliant!

Radcliffe: I was like, "Oh, okay, I see," and it marks the turning point for when we go into a truly alternate universe in the film. But actually, one of the scenes that I was really excited about doing, and did end up loving because I love doing that kind of stuff, is the fight scene in the diner, because we had so little time to shoot it and it's such a crazy scene. There's no call for a scene like that in this movie at all, but it was so great. I really enjoyed that.

Radcliffe and Wood have been the subjects of parodies, too

Madonna worked with Weird Al to get a parody of her song done. At some point — and maybe it's been done already — somebody's going to want to parody your work. If you could pick out a character of yours to be parodied, Evan, what would it be? Dolores in "Westworld"?

Wood: I was going to say probably "Westworld," and there have been parodies of that already, and some of them have been pretty good. Some people get the robot acting really well. Yeah, I think that's the most recognizable thing. I don't know what else. Probably "Kajillionaire." Spike Jones did an Old Dolio impression for me once, and that was pretty cool. That's also easily ... People can do a mimic of that.

Dan, is Harry Potter too easy of a target? I'm sure it's been done already.

Radcliffe: It has. I've been in one of them on "SNL." I can't think of anything else that I've done that's more ... Everything else is so crazy that it's hard to parody, or some of it is. I made a movie called "Swiss Army Man"—

Wood: I was just going to say, you could probably do that!

Radcliffe: We could probably do that, but there's also been two Russian guys who did a dance representation of "Swiss Army Man" on the Russian "So You Think You Can Dance," and it's one of the greatest things I've ever seen. Truly, it made me so happy!

Wood: Oh my god. That's genius!

Dishing on Weird Al's food parodies

Weird Al has a smorgasbord of great food parody songs, starting with the "My Sharona" parody, "My Bologna." What's the tops for you, Dan, as far as Al food parody songs?

Radcliffe: I'm going to have to say "[I Love] Rocky Road." It's one of the two first ones from the film. It's "[My] Bologna" or "Rocky Road" because I loved playing those ones. Because I can play a lot of "Rocky Road" on the accordion now, that's got to be my favorite.

Evan, what is your foodie favorite of Weird Al's? Or, because you might be more partial to Madonna now, maybe "Like a Surgeon" is your favorite? Do you have a particular favorite?

Wood: I loved "Yoda" growing up a lot, and "White & Nerdy" is also one of my favorites. But certainly, when we were shooting the "Like a Surgeon" performance, I could not get it out of my head for a very long time, and I think everybody got that stuck in their head.

Mixing it up

I love how diverse both of you have been in your career choices. You're never going for the obvious stuff; you're going for stuff to challenge you. Dan, people might be thinking, "That's a weird choice to play Weird Al," but then again, if you think about "Kill [Your] Darlings," if you think about "Swiss Army Man," it shows that you thrive on playing roles that challenge you. Taking on different roles is really a natural progression for you, isn't it?

Radcliffe: Thanks! I don't know if [what I'm doing] fits neatly into a "This is the type of film [I want to do]" or "This is how this fits with everything else." But there's a general spirit of, "I think I'd be really bored in a lot of movies where people just stand around and talk to each other." It's a movie, and it's fun to do stuff that's crazy as well.

Movies about music lift Wood to new heights

Evan, one of my family's favorite films is "Across the Universe." And now, you're in a parody film with "Weird," [which is also] about music. Is there something about films involving music that makes you say, "I got to get involved with that"?

Wood: Absolutely, and there was this [audience]. Just like with "Across the Universe," we already had this incredible built-in fan base with the Beatles. Not to compare the two—

Radcliffe: No, you can!

Wood: But Weird Al, he is loved by the music community [and] the comedy world. I knew he was who he was, but I underestimated how loved and influential he was to so many people. That's one of the things that's really fun about doing something that involves music that's already been established — you get to continue this legacy and give it new energy, and you're passing the torch on. It's really, really fun. And I started in musical theater, so it makes sense for me to combine the two most of the time.

Growing up in 'the circus'

Both of you started in the business very, very young. Do you find coming onto the set that there's a mutual respect [or] inherent trust with one another when you're working on a film together and maybe that informs each of your performances?

Wood: Possibly. One of the first things I said to [Dan] was, "So you also grew up in the circus!"

Radcliffe: Yeah!

Wood: We grew up in the circus! There is this innate understanding that you only have with other people that have also spent their childhood growing up in the industry.

Radcliffe: Also, frankly, I don't mean to ... There are examples of child actors that are terrible or whatever. Everyone knows them and everyone talks about them all the time. But Evan's one of the most professional, prepared people and brilliant and talented, but also has an understanding of how a film set works, and I like to think I have a bit of that. ... There's a set of instincts that get trained into you when you start young that it's cool to watch in another person and be like, "Yeah, we're not all terrible because we started young!"

Wood: No. It's like second nature.

"Weird: The Al Yankovic Story" debuts on The Roku Channel on Friday, November 4.

This interview has been edited for clarity.