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The Perfectly Nerdy Reason Weird Al Yankovic Chose Daniel Radcliffe To Play Him In New Movie

Prince Frederick in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
(Image credit: Netflix)

When portraying an iconic entertainer whose musical oeuvre contains a song called “White and Nerdy,” it’d be understating things to say that actually being white and nerdy is a big first step. So it goes with Daniel Radcliffe and his upcoming turn as Weird Al for Roku Channel’s upcoming comedic biopic Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. As logic and fate would have it, the Harry Potter star revealed that it was indeed a public display of his own geeky interests that directly led to him landing a role as the King of Pop…Parodies.

Some might argue that Daniel Radcliffe spending much of his existence so intertwined with the Harry Potter franchise might have been all the resume he needed to at least get a foot in the door for a Weird Al audition. But it was actually an impromptu serenade that the actor belted out on an episode of The Graham Norton Show that sealed the deal, as Radcliffe explained to Jimmy Fallon during his most recent visit to The Tonight Show

When I talked to Al for the first time, I was like, ‘I’m immensely flattered by the idea that you would pick me to play you. But like, why me?’ And I’m mystified, but excited. And apparently, so like 13, 14 years ago, I sang a version of a Tom Leher song on The Graham Norton Show in the UK. I sang ‘The Elements’ next to Colin Ferrell and a very bemused Rihanna, who I think was just like, ‘Who is this kid, and why is he singing all of the elements?’ And I guess Al saw that and was like, ‘This guy maybe gets it,’ and so he picked me. So I’m very, very lucky.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Tom Lehrer, and there's a likely age-line where that familiarity drops off a cliff, he was a musical satirist in the 1950s and 1960s whose relatively limited output has maintained its popularity and cult status thanks to more popular tracks like “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park” and “The Elements.” The latter is set to the tune of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Major-General’s Song” from the musical The Pirates of Penzance, and lays out all of the names of the elements. Anyone who has ever enjoyed the knowledge-geared and darkly comedic songs from Animaniacs can thank Lehrer for laying down some of that groundwork.

So it’s perhaps not altogether shocking that the most popular musical parodist of all time would pinpoint Daniel Radcliffe’s “The Elements” a capella as the inspiration for the Miracle Workers star’s casting in the streaming biopic, which boasts Eric Appel as its director and co-writer. (Naturally, Yankovic also co-wrote the pic, and was on-set during the fairly brief production.) And while all we currently have to go on is a first-look pic of Radcliff in Weird Al mode, I dare say everyone involved made all the right choices here. The same goes for Evan Rachel Wood’s guest spot as Madonna, which looks equally excellent.

Now, for anyone thinking that Daniel Radcliffe is only into 60-year-old deep-cut periodic table comedy tunes, let’s not forget that the actor is an admitted superfan of Netflix’s Love Is Blind. Now what kind of role is that fandom going to land him 13 or 14 years from now? While thinking about that one, check out the performance that landed him the role of an Al-time.

At this time, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story doesn’t yet have a release date locked up on The Roku Channel, but fans can check out his return as Ted Nugent in the latest season of Reno 911!, which also features a masterful episode with guest star Jamie Lee Curtis

Nick Venable
Nick Venable

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.