Daniel Radcliffe on becoming Sam Houser in Game Changers
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”