Film & Video
2 min

Gay sex, murder and Daniel Radcliffe

How Kill Your Darlings, a very gay film, came to be

Xtra chats with John Krokidas, the director of Kill Your Darlings.
It took more than 10 years to bring Kill Your Darlings, John Krokidas’s debut feature film about the Beat Generation of writers, to the screen. Staring Daniel Radcliffe, the film is full of (same) sex, drugs and jazz — the rock and roll of the 1940s. Kill Your Darlings is a gay film, made by an openly gay filmmaker. This is no small feat given that Brokeback Mountain, Blue Is the Warmest Colour and even this year’s Liberace HBO biopic, Behind the Candelabra, were directed by straight men.
 
The film is based on a true case — the murder of a gay man that involved the core writers of the Beat Generation: Allen Ginsberg, William S Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. Long before they became legendary tycoons, the Beats were united by Lucien Carr (played by an on-the-brink-of-movie-stardom Dane DeHaan), a beautiful aristocratic young man who spearheaded the birth of a new literary genre. Carr was involved with a man twice his age, played by Dexter’s Michael C Hall, whom he met when he was 14. The result of that relationship was tabloid fodder.
 
Finding a lead actor to play a young Ginsberg was no small task for Krokidas. Though Radcliffe nailed his audition, he had the two final Harry Potter films to complete, so Jesse Eisenberg was cast, along with a pre-Captain America/The Avengers Chris Evans. When that arrangement fell apart, Radcliffe was still available.
 
Once Radcliffe committed to the role, he was game for anything thrown his way. Krokidas recalled during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, “I told Dan, ‘You know what, no one manscaped in the 1940s. No groomers, no personal body trimmers, let it be what it is.’”
 
Radcliffe had no reservations about the same-sex scene at the film’s core. “It wasn’t Dan that was nervous about that scene,” Krokidas says. “It was the crew.” The end result is one that Krokidas is particularly proud of: “It’s a scene of someone having sex for the first time. Let's be honest: for a lot of us that first sexual encounter can be terrifying and scary at first, and you don’t quite know what you are looking for, and [there's] the rush of like physicalness and the uncomfortableness.”
 
In an interview with Daily Xtra, Krokidas talked about how this passion project came to be and why it is such an integral part of not just literary history, but gay history.
 
Kill Your Darlings hits US theatres Oct 16. 
 
Director John Krokidas talk about Daniel Radcliffe's sex scene.
Radcliffe talk about the sex scene on the red carpet