One of the most vapid (and yet theoretically interesting) parts of film culture is the obsession with film stars, or celebrities. Although it is ridiculous to expect actors to only play a single part in a single movie, some stars become so synonymous with a role or a type of role that it shapes the entire reading of future films. This can often lead to fascinating performances and can enrich films, but it can also create a kind of critical conventional wisdom about a film just because of it’s casting before people have even seen the film.
One of the most high profile actors working today who is trying to escape their past is definitely little Daniel Radcliffe. Post-Potter he has purposely taken difficult and interesting roles with various levels of success to try and prove himself as an actor. He has performed on stage as the orphan “Cripple Billy” in an intensely dry play about Ireland in the 1930s; he has simulated gay sex as Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings; and played an egomaniacal parody of himself flicking a condom onto the head of Dame Diana Rigg in Extras. I’m sure he’s been offered a thousand rom-coms and fantasy films but it seems safe to say that he is trying to prove himself with slightly more ‘edgy’ roles.
Horns is going to divide opinion with its plot and casting before anyone has even seen it. Radcliffe plays Ig Perrish, a pariah in a small town that has been blamed for the grisly murder of his long-term girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple). He wakes up days after the murder with little memory of where he has been and what he has done, and has two demonic horns growing out of his head. At first people don’t seem to notice these horns, but instead they are affected by their presence and end up treating Ig differently (to say the least).