Who is Weird Al? Daniel Radcliffe set to appear in biopic of iconic comedy song parodist in new movie Weird

The “true” life story of famed American musician Weird Al Yankovic is set for release later this week

Daniel Radcliffe has traded the wand and wizarding cape for a perm and accordion; though the glasses still remain on his face. The former Harry Potter actor is the lead in the upcoming “loose” biopic of iconic musical parodist “Weird” Al Yankovic in the upcoming film Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.

The film, based on the “true” (ahem) story of Alfred Matthew Yankovic tells the story of Weird Al’s rise from a simple polka player with an accordion looking to make it big in the music industry to pop culture icon. Directed by Eric Appel, making his directorial debut, the film’s incredible calibre of cast members is a testament to the long lasting appeal the 63 year old entertainer has.

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Alongside Daniel Radcliffe playing the titular character are Evan Rachel Wood as Madonna, The Office’s Rainn Wilson as Dr. Demento - the radio host who gave Weird Al his first break - alongside heavyweights Jack Black, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Conan O’Brien and former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Nina West.

Speaking to the Toronto Star ahead of the film’s debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, Radcliffe admitted to reporters that “The tone of the film is one of the more particularly strange ones I’ve done. It’s a biopic, but not really because very quickly it turns into something much more insane than that. I’ve played a lot of real people before, both living and dead, but this is the first time I’ve ever played someone that I’m kind of a fan of coming into it.”

“I think me and Al are both quite sincere, earnest people and what you see is what you get. We both really have an appreciation for weird and the fact that we get to do these jobs and the fact that somebody’s paying us both to do the things that we love, I think, gives us a real appreciation for how incredibly lucky we are to be doing that.”

Who is “Weird” Al Yankovic?

Al Yankovic is best known for creating comedy songs that make light of pop culture and often parody specific songs by contemporary musicians. He also performs original songs that are style pastiches of the work of other acts, as well as polka medleys of several popular songs, most of which feature his trademark accordion. He became a fixture of 80s pop culture, with his trademark glasses, perm and garish short sleeved shirts, MTV welcomed Yankovic with open arms when music videos became the new big thing.

His parodies of Michael Jackson’s Beat It, Bad and James Brown’s Living In America became mainstays on MTV, with Yankovic always asking musicians for permission to parody their song, despite parodies being protected by US law.

Those requests have been usually met with delight, with Yankovic recounting his conversation with Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain ahead of the release of the parody Smells Like Nirvana. Cobain first asked Yankovic if it would be another food parody, in which Yankovic explained that the song would be about Cobain’s incomprehensible lyrics, to which Cobain replied, according to Yankovic, "Oh, sure, of course, that’s funny."

Those requests also led to a short feud with rapper Eminem, who gave Yankovic permission to perform a parody of Lose Yourself, only to change his mind at the last minute. This led to the amusing “interview” between the two on an Al TV special aired on MTV in the 00s.

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Despite the popularity of his parodies, it wasn’t until 2003 that Yankovic had his biggest chart success, with the release of White and Nerdy that charted at 17 in the Billboard Top 100. Original performer Chamillionaire was so enamoured with the work, he shared it on his Myspace page. "He’s actually rapping pretty good on it, it’s crazy,” Chamillionaire said, “I didn’t know he could rap like that."

Where can I watch Weird: The Al Yankovic Story?

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story will be airing on The Roku Channel from November 4. Roku also releases their television shows and films through Sky’s NOW TV streaming stick and devices for those who already have Sky TV subscriptions.

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How do I sign up to NOW TV?

For those though that hate being tied down to contracts, NOW TV offer three separate passes for their streaming service:

  • NOW Entertainment, comprising of Sky TV channels that air television shows and a library of on-demand titles for £9.99 per month
  • NOW Cinema, comprising of all of Sky’s movie channels and a library of on-demand movies for £9.99 per month

For more details on how to get NOW TV, or to purchase a no-contract pass to watch the Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, you can visit NOW TV’s website for more details.

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