Daniel Radcliffe portrays real-life adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg in the new film 'Jungle,' in theaters this Friday. Daniel Radcliffe portrays real-life adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg in the new film 'Jungle,' in theaters this Friday. Daniel Radcliffe portrays real-life adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg in the new film 'Jungle,' in theaters this Friday. (Photo: Momentum Pictures)

Daniel Radcliffe transforms into a real-life Indiana Jones

The actor says his role in 'Jungle' is the hardest thing he's ever done.

Since concluding his eight-film run in the “Harry Potter” films, Daniel Radcliffe has tackled horror in “The Woman in Black,” “Horns,” and “Victor Frankenstein” and played beat poet Allen Ginsberg in “Kill Your Darlings.” In his latest project, he plays a real person who endures real-life horrors: he portrays Israeli adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg in the riveting survival drama “Jungle,” opening Oct. 20.

Based on Ghinsberg’s best-selling memoir about the three weeks he spent lost in the Amazon in 1981, the film proved to be Radcliffe’s most challenging role to date. “I think it was, certainly logistically and practically, one of the hardest things any of us had ever done, simply by virtue of our being in the jungle,” the 28-year-old actor told From The Grapevine. “We were filming in places camera trucks and vehicles couldn’t access. We were filming on the water a lot, on the rapids. It was tricky. I was worried about the rafting scenes because I’d never really done work on water before.”

Battling extreme hunger and heat, fire ants and snakes, Yossi was forced to cut out a worm that burrowed under the skin of his forehead as sequences graphically illustrate, an ordeal reminiscent of “The Revenant.”

“There are definitely some similarities, in terms of it being a pretty harrowing true story of survival,” Radcliffe agreed. “But it was also a very fun film to make. There was a really good camaraderie. I don’t want to complain about anything because Yossi really lived it. I was still eating, just trying to lose weight for the final scenes. But I missed eating as much as I normally do. I don’t know how Christian Bale did it for ‘The Machinist.’”

Having dropped 14 pounds for the role, Radcliffe relished being able to eat again when filming wrapped. “I had a steak when we finished shooting in Colombia, and Thai curry followed by a huge bar of chocolate when we finished the Australian portion of the shoot,” he told us.

Yossi Ghinsberg and Daniel Radcliffe in Columbia during the 'Jungle' shoot. Yossi Ghinsberg and Daniel Radcliffe in Colombia during the 'Jungle' shoot. (Photo: Yossi Ghinsberg)

He also prepared by talking to Ghinsberg “about his experiences in the jungle and his own personal background," said Radcliffe, who had visited Israel with his family as a child. “I remember having a good time.” The British Radcliffe employs an Israeli accent in the film.

Would he be able to survive a nightmare like Ghinsberg’s? “If you had asked me before [the film], I would have said absolutely not. But I think what makes Yossi’s story remarkable is that he wasn’t like Bear Grylls, someone with extensive survival training. It gives us all a little bit of hope that we might be able to survive just purely on our own will to survive. That’s what I found really beautiful and moving about the story, how hard it is to crush a person’s will to live.”

In his post-“Potter” career, Radcliffe has played an FBI agent and undercover skinhead in “Imperium,” a tech tycoon in “Now You See Me 2,” and a dead body in “Swiss Army Man.” He has also won raves for his stage work in “Equus” and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

“I don’t tend to compare the things that I do. I’m proud of pretty much all my work. But I‘m particularly proud of this film and I’m very honored to be a part of this story and I hope that it finds as wide an audience as possible,” he said.

In February, he’ll play a pilot forced to deliver a cargo of illegal drugs or his wife will die in “Beast of Burden,” and he’ll star with Owen Wilson in a TBS series called “Miracle Workers,” a workplace comedy set in heaven. Created by Simon Rich and produced by Lorne Michaels, it’s based on Rich’s book “What in God’s Name” and is set to premiere in 2018. Radcliffe will play an angel in charge of handling humanity’s prayers, reporting to God (Wilson). “I could not be more excited about it,” he told us. “I think it’s going to surprise people.”


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