ABOVE: (LEFT TO RIGHT) BEN FOSTER, DANIEL RADCLIFFE, DANE DEHAAN, AND JACK HUSTON IN KILL YOUR DARLINGS.
Good things—and bad and mediocre things —come in twos. Less than a year after On the Road premiered at Cannes, Kill Your Darlings, another Beat-centric film, is competing for the coveted US Dramatic Prize at Sundance. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Huston as Jack Kerouac, Ben Foster as William S. Burroughs, Dane DeHaan as Lucien Carr, Elizabeth Olsen as Edie Parker, and Michael C. Hall as David Kammerer, an older teacher infatuated with Carr. This time, the Beats are not masked by characters; Kill Your Darlings is based on a true story, the Manhattan murder of Kammerer.
“The first shot of the movie is my character, dead. That appealed to me—being on the receiving end,” joked Hall at the film’s Sundance premiere. “I had a chance to meet Allen Ginsberg in the early ’90s on a couple of occasions in New York—a very good friend of mine worked in his offices,” he continued. “He was playful, acute intellectually, both down to earth and larger than life at that point. I was kind of awestruck.”
“I knew about the Beat generation, I knew about their importance, I’d read Naked Lunch and On the Road, but I hadn’t really got fully obsessed,” explained Radcliffe. His favorite Ginsberg poem? “‘Kaddish,’ it’s very much about his mother, and about that relationship, and about visiting her in mental institutions. As I looked into his life and gained a great understanding—it gave me a much greater appreciation for his poetry, actually. When you read that poem knowing about his relationship with his mother, it’s really heartbreaking. It’s a beautiful poem.”
Foster was less keen to comment on his Beat knowledge. Looking very surly, with a buzz cut and a chest-hair-revealing button down, Foster sped down the carpet as quickly as possible while Hall, Huston, Radcliffe, and DeHaan stayed to answer questions.
Everyone was quick to praise Radcliffe. “He set the tone for all of us,” gushed Hall. “Dan’s going to blow people’s minds,” remarked Jack Huston in his plummy English accent—a far cry from that of Richard Harrow’s in Boardwalk Empire.
While Kill Your Darlings marks Radcliffe and DeHaan’s Sundance debut, Foster has another film, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, premiering at the festival. Jack Huston attended once, four years ago. “I came for a movie called Shrink (2008), which people probably forgot about very quickly, but I liked it,” the scion explained. “It’s changed a lot. It’s a lot bigger.”
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