Daniel Radcliffe on breaking the spell with his first Tony nomination

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Daniel Radcliffe on breaking the spell with his first Tony nomination
Daniel Radcliffe, one of the stars of the Broadway revival of "Merrily We Roll Along," in New York, Aug. 18, 2023. Radcliffe earned his first nomination on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, for his role in the revival of the 1981 Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical. (Thea Traff/The New York Times)

by Sarah Bahr

NEW YORK, NY.- Daniel Radcliffe caught the first batch of Tony nominations during the announcement at 8:30 a.m. He texted congratulations to his “Merrily We Roll Along” co-star Jonathan Groff, who was nominated for best actor in a musical.

But then dad duty called before his own category, featured actor in a musical, was announced at 9:00.

“I was in the middle of doing breakfast and trying to put my son down for his morning nap, so I got a text from a member of the cast letting me know I was nominated,” said the actor, 34, who stars as the lyricist and playwright Charley Kringas in the acclaimed revival of the 1981 Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical, “Merrily We Roll Along.”

Radcliffe’s Tony nomination — for his fifth Broadway role since his 2008 debut in “Equus” — is the first of his career. And it’s extra special, he said in a phone conversation from his New York apartment Tuesday, because not only Groff, but his other “Merrily” co-star, Lindsay Mendez, was also nominated, for featured actress.

“People in your line of work probably get bored of actors talking about how much they love each other, how much they enjoy working with each other,” said Radcliffe, who is best known for playing Harry Potter on-screen. “And we do say it a lot, but this group is really awesome — Lindsay, Jonathan, the whole cast. I feel so lucky.”

These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Q: You recently were the ring bearer at Lindsay’s wedding, for which Jonathan served as the officiant. How did that come about?

A: It’s what I do in the show — when Jonathan and Katie Rose Clarke are getting married, I’m the ring bearer. So we were in Lindsay’s dressing room on the Saturday or Sunday before she got married, and she just offhandedly was like, “Would you be the ring bearer?” We found that funny. So I did! But also I suddenly went from going to a wedding with zero responsibilities to going and having to not screw something up; to not drop the rings and suddenly have them flying around Central Park! But it was fine.

Q: All three of you have been with the show since its off-Broadway run in 2022. How has your performance grown and changed?

A: When we first met, we were getting on really well, but we were still getting to know each other, so we were having to act the friendship more. And now so much of it is just there. That’s not a feeling you get all the time as an actor. It’s rare, and I feel very lucky that I just have to look into Jonathan’s eyes or Lindsay’s eyes and get everything I need to get through whatever moment we’re doing.

Q: What initially attracted you to the “Merrily” role?

A: When I saw this production in London, I had the reaction of going, “Oh, I’m really right for this part.” I could hear my voice in the character pretty early on. I love musical theater, but it’s not something I’ve done my whole life the way Jonathan and Lindsay have, so the vocal aspects and the musical aspects are the stuff I’ve really enjoyed, especially when the music is as incredible as Sondheim’s. “Franklin Shepard” in particular was pretty challenging to learn initially. But now that it’s in me, it’s incredibly fun.

Q: There’s no challenge in musical theater like a Sondheim patter song.

A: The first few times I was doing it, it was genuinely terrifying. The one time off-Broadway where it kind of went wrong was one of the most terrifying things that’s ever happened to me onstage.

Q: What happened?

A: I got ahead of the band by like half a beat, so I was out of sync with them for — it felt like 30 seconds, but it was probably less. Thankfully there are enough musical things happening in that song that I recognized one of them and was able to reorient myself.

Q: Who is the person you’ve been most nervous to have come see the show?

A: Meryl Streep was in the audience one night, and I was very thrilled to find that out after the show was finished.

Q: “Merrily” closes July 7. What’s next for you?

A: I’m going to take some time off and just be a dad for a while, which I’m very, very excited about.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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