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Daniel Radcliffe made his return to the stage, just last week (September 20) as the star of the Broadway production The Lifespan of a Fact, which will run for 16 weeks at Studio 54. It’s a comedy of conflict, based on the controversy around John D’Agata‘s essay, “What Happens There,” about the Las Vegas suicide of teenager Levi Presley.

Radcliffe is set to play real-life fact checker, Jim Fingal, who’s assigned to D’Agata’s essay. But, there’s one problem, and it’s a doozy: Fingal realizes early on that a lot of D’Agata’s work is… made up. The two men hash it out and eventually end up collaborating on a book about truth and literary nonfiction, The Lifespan of a Fact, which inspired the play.

Radcliffe stars opposite Cherry Jones, who plays his demanding editor, with Bobby Cannavale taking on the role of the essay’s unorthodox author.

The play sounds truly intriguing and Radcliffe has a history of choosing interesting stage projects — and that’s a fact! Don’t believe us? Here are five wow moments from his theatrical career so far:

1. Equus 

Radcliffe made his Broadway debut in 2008’s Equus, written by Peter Shaffer in 1973. He plays 17-year-old Alan, a troubled young man who has a sexual fascination with horses. The play follows child psychiatrist, Dr. Dysart (Richard Griffiths), as he attempts to figure out the source of the teenager’s sadness, after it’s learned Alan has blinded six horses. In the above clip, we see Radcliffe act out a session with the doctor, while in a hypnotic state. While we don’t know what causes Alan so much pain, we can feel it come through in Radcliffe’s performance.

In an interview at the time, Radcliffe told Playbill, “There was a lot of newspaper stuff about it [theater] being a big mistake. My favorite headline was ‘Crash – What’s That? – The Sound of a Career Coming to a Grinding Halt.’ But when I’d look around me in the rehearsal hall, I thought that if I’m going to screw up I couldn’t screw up with better people.” Ah, we’re glad he didn’t let naysayers get to him.

2. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying 

In 2011, Radcliffe returned to Broadway, starring in composer Frank Loesser‘s How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying. Based on Shepherd Mead‘s 1952 satirical book by the same name (first performed in 1961), it follows a window washer who decides to try climbing the corporate ladder. In his second trip to Broadway, Radcliffe not only had to deliver his lines to a live audience, but he was expected to… SING. And, he is stupendous, as you can see in the above clip from the 2011 Tony Awards. He gets extra points for executing some stellar dance choreography.

On opening night, Radcliffe talked about his interest in musicals with ThatKentertainment, saying, “I always wanted to do a musical. I thought it would be something that happened a lot later in my career. But, it’s happened now. And, I’m very excited.”

3. The Cripple of Inishmaan 

Radcliffe starred in the 2013 West End revival of Martin McDonagh‘s 1996 play The Cripple of Inishmaan, which debuted on Broadway the following year. It’s set in 1934, on the Aran Islands off the Western Coast of Ireland. And, Hollywood’s a comin’… to make a documentary about a neighboring island. Billy Claven (Radcliffe), a crippled orphan, desperately wants to escape the loneliness of the island and the residents who ridicule him. He sees the movie as a way out, and tries to get a role in the production.

What with this being Radcliffe’s third major theatrical performance, he seemed to be finding his stage legs and his confidence as a thespian, telling The Guardian in 2013, “My drive is to prove I’m not a one-trick pony.” He definitely proved himself with this sensitive portrayal of such a complex and dynamic character.

4. Privacy 

Radcliffe went Off-Broadway in 2016, starring in the play Privacy. Set in modern day, it examines what life has become in the digital age and follows the story of a young man (Radcliffe) who’s just been dumped by his lover for being “emotionally unreachable.” He’d like to hide behind closed doors, to mend his wounds, but the intimate details of his love life are available for all to see via the good ol’ internet. The audience is written into the script, and Radcliffe explains how this works in the above clip.

Radcliffe himself only signed up for an email address in 2013 and that was so he could take part in fantasy football, according to this Public Forum chat. He’s not on social media at all. Radcliffe choosing to remain largely “unplugged” makes him playing this character, who also desires privacy, even more intriguing.

5. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead 

Just last year, Radcliffe starred in the 2017 West End production of Tom Stoppard‘s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, first performed in 1966. The story is an extension of William Shakespeare‘s Hamlet, but instead focuses on two minor characters, Hamlet’s childhood friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. In Stoppard’s play, we see the pair in the wings of a performance of Hamlet, and they’re confused as to what’s going on and why they aren’t on stage.

Radcliffe takes on the role of Rosencrantz, opposite Joshua McGuire as Guildenstern. While the title of the play provides all we need to know about their ultimate fate, the two characters are unaware of their future demise. Radcliffe and McGuire play off of each other in this philosophical comedy, keeping audiences engaged until the curtain closes.

AND, scene.

While his performances stand on their own, we’d like to leave you with this anecdotal nugget Radcliffe shared on The Graham Norton Show, about how some over enthusiastic fans in the audience of Equus tried to get his attention as he waited for his next scene to come up, “Dan! Dan! Look at us. Say something to us.” :

Have you seen Daniel Radcliffe perform on stage — what did you think!?

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Filed Under: Daniel Radcliffe
By Brigid Brown