British Jewish Star Daniel Radcliffe Hopes New Movie About Neo-Nazis Will Spark Dialogue to Defeat Antisemitic Rhetoric
Racist and antisemitic rhetoric supported by white supremacists can be defeated by opening channels for meaningful dialogue, British-Jewish actor Daniel Radcliffe said, ahead of the release of his new film, in which he plays an undercover FBI agent infiltrating a neo-Nazi group.
“[White supremacist ideologies] have more power the less we talk about them. So hopefully this does start a kind of conversation, which would be a tiny part of a much larger conversation that needs to happen,” the actor, 27, told The Jewish Week. “If one skinhead sees this movie and has his mind changed, or is even just made to question something, then it has been entirely worth it.”
In the upcoming film Imperium, Radcliffe’s character goes undercover to join a white supremacist terrorist group that the FBI is trying to take down. The film’s trailer, which is filled with swastikas and other Hilter-related imagery, shows the actor shaving his head and reading about white supremacy as he prepares to be a part of the gang.
Radcliffe, of “Harry Potter” fame, believes someone who “has antisemitic and racist beliefs is an otherwise good person who had his or her mind somehow poisoned.” He added: “No one comes out of the womb believing this stuff. You have to be taught it somewhere along the line. And if we lose our ability to believe in people’s power to change, then we might as well all just go home.”
Imperium was filmed three years ago, but Radcliffe said he still quivers when he thinks about transforming into a neo-Nazi for the role, which required him to get a temporary swastika tattoo. He told The Jewish Week, “I’m not religious, but my mum’s Jewish; I’m technically Jewish. And I have to have a [expletive] swastika painted on me every day.”
Radcliffe added that his Jewish heritage was targeted by supporters of the neo-Nazi movement when he first confirmed his involvement in the film. He thinks Imperium will remind people that there are “other types of terrorists” in the world. He explained, “It’s easier to deny their humanity. But the more aggressively dismissive we are of them, the more that plays into their worldview.”
Imperium will be released on Video on Demand and in a limited number of theaters on August 19.