Earlier in October, a select group of journalists submitted questions before a virtual press conference over Zoom for Roku’s hilarious spoof-style biopic Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, about the “real” life story of artist Weird Al Yankovic. The impressive talent assembled included Yankovic himself, stars Daniel Radcliffe and Evan Rachel Wood, and director/co-writer/executive producer Eric Appel. To our surprise, moderator Jacqueline Coley selected one of our questions to ask of the roster! Read on for our question, as well as a select few from the remainder of the conference.
Weird Al gives a voiceover during the opening, stating “life is like a parody of your favorite song.” What is your personal favorite song that you would feel meets this description?
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: Clarification question, is this a song that already exists, that we will use as a parody of our life? Okay, right.
AL YANKOVIC: I don’t know if I’m allowed to pick my own song, but if so, I’d probably go with ‘White and Nerdy.’ I had to draw from a lifetime of experience for that song.
ERIC APPEL: I’ll go ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.’ Because I’m on drugs right now.
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: I think mine would have to be ‘All I Really Want’ by Alanis Morissette. You wouldn’t have to change any of the lyrics.
DANIEL: There’s a song by Tom Lehrer called ‘We Will All Go Together When We Go.’ I’ve always been pretty morbid, so we’ll just go with that one.
Apart from our chosen question, moderator Jacqueline Coley asked a couple other interesting ones, too. We selected some that would reflect on what to expect from the movie at large.
Al, there are real aspects of your life that you are recreating. Was there one particular moment that you saw, that was somewhat recreated that really brought you back to the moment when it happened in real life?
AL: There are a couple moments of actual truth sprinkled in among the biopic things that people who aren’t familiar with my story may not actually know are true. There was, in fact, a door-to-door accordion salesman that came along in my neighborhood, offering music lessons. I did in fact, record ‘My Bologna’ in a public bathroom. Now I did it by myself at the time, so I didn’t have like a whole band with me. But just to be there, you know, on set like trying to recreate ‘My Bologna’ in the bathroom. That was kind of an odd thing for me. There were little moments from my life. It was odd to see Daniel Radcliffe playing me doing this bit of me in college.
Daniel, you in particular, are leaning into everything weird about this character. So what was it that intrigued you to it? Because I think obviously, at this point, you can do what you want. I think it would have to be something special, especially knowing that you’re doing a real life person.
DANIEL: Well, I think there was there was so much about the script that was exciting when I read it. I mean, first and foremost, I try to prioritize my career now by going, ‘what do I think I’m gonna have the most fun making?’ This was so like, very, very obvious that this would be an incredibly fun thing to shoot because every page is something. You’ve got a fight scene, and then a pool party, and then a dance number and a song, and just to get to do something different every day and be pulling on all these different things… it was incredibly exciting.
I was a fan of Al before I’d read the script, and I got the script. I got the email first with it, which was like, ‘Weird Al the Movie biopic, and you’d be playing Weird Al.’ My first reaction was kind of, ‘oh, that’s incredibly cool!’ But there’s got to be people that are physically closer than me. Then I read the script and a few pages into the script, I was like, ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter.’ Oh, great. I know what this is. At that point. I was just like, ‘yeah, let’s do this.’
Writing a parody film…. was it flexing the same muscles than parody songwriting? Are these totally different muscles that you and Eric worked out together as you were writing this? What was your guide for this to make it feel like a parody, even though it’s a film?
AL: Well, I’d like to think the comic sensibilities are the same. I mean, the sense of humor is the same at writing a parody song as opposed to writing a movie, but they’re, you know, very different media. There’s a story, there’s an arc, there’s characters, there’s a lot of things beyond what you would normally have to flex while while writing a song. So there’s a lot going on there. Thankfully, Eric was the greatest writing partner in the world. We had such a blast writing the script. Writing is usually my least favorite part of my job description. But it was so fun writing with Eric. I mean, Eric remembers as soon as we finished writing the script, I was like, let’s write another one right away!
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story comes exclusively to the Roku Channel on Friday, November 4th—don’t miss it!