Daniel Radcliffe may not have gone to the same lengths as Jared Leto or Daniel Day Lewis, but the beloved actor and former wizard is no stranger to method acting either. From being submerged in a bog for The Woman in Black to wearing a prosthetic hump before filming Victor Frankenstein, Radcliffe has prepared for his roles in a variety of bizarre ways — although none compare to what he put himself through in preparation for Jungle.
How Did Daniel Radcliffe Prepare For His Role In 'Jungle?'
Helmed by Wolf Creek director Greg McLean, Jungle follows the real life story of Yossi Ghinsberg, an Israeli adventurer who lived alone for three weeks in a Bolivian rainforest. With no supplies to speak of, Ghinsberg took extreme measures to survive before a search party eventually discovered him emaciated and on the brink of death.
In order to portray this extreme form of starvation accurately on screen, Daniel Radcliffe took a page out of Christian Bale's book and starved himself in real life too. While speaking to The Telegraph, Radcliffe revealed that he survived on a diet of one chicken breast and one protein bar per day, supplemented by copious amounts of coffee and cigarettes. Sure, this may have been preferable to the broken bird fetuses and monkey corpses that Ghinsberg himself lived on during his isolation, this limited diet couldn't have been easy for Radcliffe either.
While speaking about the film with ABC Radio Melbourne, Radcliffe was reluctant to compare his experiences to that of Ghinsberg, asserting that Jungle is "based on a true story of a guy who suffered way more than I did." However, Greg McLean was quick to commend Radcliffe, stating that:
"This speaks to [Radcliffe's] integrity and his commitment as an actor to be truthful to Yossi's story."
Radcliffe's commitment was arguably more dedicated — and dangerous — than most body transformations we usually see in Hollywood, as the young actor was forced to complete this four-week diet not once, but twice. This was because the final scenes of Jungle were shot in two separate locations, Colombia and Queensland, so Radcliffe's weight inevitably fluctuated in between. According to McLean:
"When we finished shooting the scenes in Queensland, [Radcliffe] went to the local Thai food restaurant and ordered about $300 worth of curries and noodles..."
As anyone who's seen Jungle can attest, this reward was clearly well deserved. Radcliffe prepared extensively for the role, and it turns out that this wasn't just in the physical sense either.
Daniel Radcliffe Contacted Yossi Ghinsberg To Research The Role Too
During our own interview with Yossi Ghinsberg, the man who Radcliffe impersonated in Jungle, the author described Radcliffe as "a brave artist," relaying to us that it was a "great honor" to be associated with this "iconic figure." Ghinsberg knows this first-hand as Radcliffe contacted him personally prior to filming:
"Initially, we had two long Skype sessions where [Radcliffe] interviewed me, or rather interrogated me, although he was very well mannered, naturally. He didn't hesitate to dig deep into my soul. I gave him everything I have to give. And I was very impressed — he even wanted to read the books I read at that age and listen to the music I liked then."
When you combine both the mental and physical dedication that Radcliffe brought to his role in Jungle, it's hard to disagree with Ghinsberg's description of him. Long gone are the days when Radcliffe soared onto our screens as a bespectacled wizard. In his place stands a surprisingly daring actor who has arguably become one of the finest British performers in his generation — and really, isn't that the most impressive transformation of all?
Should actors starve themselves for a role? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!