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The Road to "Howl"
The team's first concern was putting together the ensemble cast, and particularly finding the actor to take on the central role of Allen Ginsberg. "We were putting together a list of all the great actors under the age of 30," he recalls, "and I had one of those crazy midnight moments: What about Daniel Radcliffe? Because on just a thematic level, the character of Allen is someone who goes from being the dutiful son, the good boy, into revealing all of these feelings and thoughts that he's been keeping in for so long, and by the end of the story, finding a new voice for himself. Daniel probably has so much inside of him that he's not gotten the chance yet to show the world, and how great would it be if the arc of the character appealed to him and somehow felt to him like where he was at the moment?"

After growing up in public as the titular Harry Potter star, Radcliffe the actor was moving on from that persona with a broader range of theater and film work. His response to the character of Allen Ginsberg was immediate. "He's just desperate for someone to liberate him," Radcliffe observes. "He's so ready for that at the beginning of this film, and he finds this incredibly charismatic guy, Lucien Carr. To be honest, that's the thing that attracted me to it most -- it's a story about this first true love that ends very badly. I think we've all kind of had some version of that relationship. Sure, people are going to talk about it as a gay love story, but it's basically just a love story. The gay aspect, to me, is sort of incidental -- not that we shy away from it. They're simply two young men falling in love."

Of course, turning a young man from West London who all but grew up on film sets into an insecure Jewish kid from Paterson, New Jersey posed its own challenges. Krokidas and Radcliffe undertook a rigorous regimen of training in the actor's spare moments away from his Broadway engagement in the popular revival of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."

Recalls Krokidas, "We spent six months rehearsing once a week because he was doing seven shows a week on Broadway. We'd have an hour every week to go through the script, to break down each scene, to find where he emotionally connected with the material, and then also do vocal and accent training."

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