Grand ges­tures

Daniel Rad­cliffe on be­com­ing Sam Houser in Game Chang­ers

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When Ash­ton Kutcher and Michael Fass­ben­der were asked to pre­tend to be Steve Jobs (for 2013’s Jobs and Danny Boyle’s forth­com­ing Steve Jobs movie re­spec­tively), they had hours’ worth of video avail­able to study thanks to the Ap­ple co-founder’s will­ing­ness to take cen­tre stage. Daniel Rad­cliffe had no such riches to mine. Cast as Rock­star Games’ pub­lic­ity-shun­ning pres­i­dent Sam Houser for the forth­com­ing TV movie Game Changer, the ac­tor had to sim­ply read ev­ery­thing he could get his hands on. He started from the be­gin­ning.

“Nor­mally when I go to ap­proach a char­ac­ter, the con­cerns are: where is he from? What was his up­bring­ing like? And how dif­fer­ent was it from mine?” Rad­cliffe ex­plains. “This was one of the few times where [it was], ‘Oh, we were from the same part of Lon­don; both of us had at least one par­ent that was in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try’ [Houser is the son of ac­tress Geral­dine Mof­fat, whose cred­its in­clude 1971’s Get Carter; Rad­cliffe’s mother is cast­ing di­rec­tor Mar­cia Gre­sham]. And I feel that if I had grown up when Sam grew up, I would have been into the same mu­sic as him… I feel like we have sim­i­lar sen­si­bil­i­ties.

“You never like to say, ‘I’m like this guy’, par­tic­u­larly when he is a liv­ing per­son who re­ally ex­ists some­where in the world, be­cause he may see this and go, ‘No, you’re not’. But I def­i­nitely en­joyed get­ting to know about him. From what I’ve gath­ered he’s some­body that’s in­cred­i­bly pas­sion­ate and sin­gle-minded and fiercely in­tel­li­gent, and has a kind of ap­petite for cul­ture and an ap­petite for chal­leng­ing him­self and push­ing him­self. He seems like some­body who’s not re­ally sat­is­fied un­less he’s onto the next big thing. And that’s some­thing I def­i­nitely re­late to.” Fo­cused on the Grand Theft Auto se­ries’ rise to promi­nence, along­side the ef­forts of ac­tivist Jack Thompson (played by Bill Pax­ton) in at­tack­ing Rock­star’s sem­i­nal work, Game Changer was writ­ten by Rev co-cre­ator James Wood and di­rected by Owen Harris, whose CV in­cludes Black Mir­ror and Mis­fits. “It’s a film with an amaz­ing set of char­ac­ters,” Wood says. “The four Bri­tish guys who cre­ated the game are an in­cred­i­ble group of cre­ative ge­niuses, re­ally, led by Sam Houser. And the an­tag­o­nist in the piece is Jack Thompson, who is a very gen­uine Mi­ami-based born-again Chris­tian lawyer who saw it as his role in life to cur­tail the in­flu­ence of these games on Amer­i­can chil­dren.”

From the lit­tle we’ve seen, Rad­cliffe’s face seems to of­fer up a fair stab at Houser’s beard, although the Rock­star chief’s other at­tributes doubt­less pre­sented more of chal­lenge. “I haven’t re­ally played a part like Sam be­fore,” the ac­tor says. “He’s a lot sharper with peo­ple than I think I have ever played. He has it in him to be a lot tougher than char­ac­ters I’ve por­trayed be­fore, be­cause of his sort of sin­gle­mind­ed­ness and the re­lent­less­ness with which he is pur­su­ing that vi­sion.”

Game Changer is sched­uled to air on BBC2 in Septem­ber.

“I haven’t re­ally played a part like Sam be­fore. He’s a lot sharper with peo­ple than I think I have ever played”

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