TBS' Miracle Workers is coming back for its second season, sending cast members like Daniel Radcliffe and Steve Buscemi back to a simpler (and yet somehow endlessly more complicated) era for the Dark Ages. The new batch of episodes is just as silly as the heavenly first season, but there probably isn't anything heavenly about getting a bit of duck poop in in one's eye, an experience that Radcliffe actually went through while filming.
While Daniel Radcliffe's boy wizard Harry Potter likely has spells that keep his eyeballs free from foul fecal flecks, the actor himself has no such magical abilities on his latest TV show. While speaking to press during Miracle Workers: Dark Ages' panel at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, Daniel Radcliffe started talking about the difficulties that come with using ducks during scenes. And then... well, you can probably imagine.
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: The thing I learned most of all, and Karan really tested this in this series, is filming with ducks. That was the biggest learning curve for me in all of this season, I think.
KARAN SONI: Yeah. What he’s not saying is, they shit a lot, all the time, and once in your eye.
GERALDINE VISWANATHAN: That happened.
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: And once in my eye, yes.
As one might imagine, that admission drew quite an amused reaction from those around, such as creator Simon Rich and co-stars Steve Buscemi, Geraldine Viswanathan and Karan Soni. Technically, Daniel Radcliffe was speaking to the press via satellite, away from everyone, so it probably made it a little easier to drop knowledge of the #2 variety.
Thankfully, Daniel Radcliffe followed through by explaining exactly what happened, and his reaction couldn't have been more quaint. In his words:
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: Basically, the duck was on the ground and I just all I saw was that it sort of ruffled its feathers, and then like a millisecond later I felt something hit my eye, and I was like, 'Ah, that’s definitely what that is.'
STEVE BUSCEMI: Wow.
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: But we plowed on. (Laughs.)
When life gets you down, and you feel like you aren't too particularly interested in giving a shit, take the time to appreciate that you probably aren't recognizing any poop-to-eyeball impact. I mean unless that's your thing, as it might very well have been for people living in the dark ages.
Following the Miracle Workers: Dark Ages TCA panel, I had the pleasure of interviewing co-stars Geraldine Viswanathan and Karan Soni about the upcoming season, which was filmed in Prague. Because this is a show that features a family with the last name Shitshoveler, and obviously because of Radcliffe's eye situation, I had to ask about the production's smell, and Soni had some choice words to say about those ducks. (Warning: don't read the following quotes while eating.)
KARAN SONI: [The ducks] smell like they come straight out of dirty water. That's how I describe it. I don't know where they had been, but there were like a dozen of them at a time, and they would be pooping everywhere. Because I think they're nervous. On the stage, like in the castle, on the carpet, on the everything. And their poop is semi-liquid.
GERALDINE VISWANATHAN: Ooh, it's like both. Oh boy.
KARAN SONI: And they just smelled really bad. After the first day, we were all excited. We were like, 'Oh, ducks!' And then instantly after the first take, I was like, 'I'm ready to be done with this.' And they were in several episodes. So when they would show up, the smell would come first and then you'd be like, 'Oh, the ducks are coming for the next scene.'
None of them are Darkwing Duck, but they're all pretty dangerous nonetheless. To be fair, the ducks do earn some laughs in Miracle Workers' early episodes, but perhaps not enough that Karan Soni came away from the experience with anything resembling forgiveness for his feathered co-stars. (That's mostly a joke, but not completely a joke.)
It wasn't just the smells, though. Karan Soni also spoke up about how the ducks seemed to have a keen sense for just how to mess up a scene. Here's how he put it:
KARAN SONI: Then there was just tension in the air when they would quack, because we were trying to dialogue. And then of course, just in the perfect moment, they're like [loudquack sound]. And I'm like, 'I'm gonna murder this duck.'
GERALDINE VISWANATHAN: These were not Hollywood ducks.
KARAN SONI: There's no such thing. We asked the animal trainer if the ducks had names and he was like, 'Ehhghh.' [Laughs.]
Don't worry, don't worry. We're all done talking about ducks and the kinds of waste that can be created by such ducks. Now it's just time to get excited about a show whose qualities are far, far above poopy.
For the new season of Miracle Workers, the central cast returns in all-new roles as medieval citizens coping with widespread ignorance, widespread inequality and a complete lack of medical awareness. Daniel Radcliffe plays a bumbling prince, with Karan Soni as his incredulous knave-of-all-trades. Meanwhile, Steve Buscemi plays the Shitshoveler patriarch who comes to grips with his daughter, played by Geraldine Viswanathan, being a more evolved chip off the old block.
Miracle Workers: Dark Ages will make its debut on TBS on Tuesday, January 28.