Roundtable Interview with John Krokidas,
Director of “Kill Your Darlings”
October 8, 2013, Dallas , Texas
Presbyterian Outlook: How did you get Daniel Radcliffe (the actor who played “Harry Potter”) to work with you?
Krokidas: He was actually my first choice from the very beginning. I managed to contact his agent and send the script, and Dan was very interested, so we had one of those “first date” kind of dinner meetings, where you know after 20 minutes if there’s some kind of chemistry there. We talked for five hours solid! But, unfortunately, right after that, the funding fell through, and Dan had a couple of other commitments, anyway, so it just wasn’t going to work out at first. So I went in another direction with the casting---I’d secured Jesse Eisenberg, before everyone else discovered how talented he was, but then after he got famous for “Social Network” he decided he didn’t want to play the iconic college student again, then the funding fell through, and I was back to square one. By this time, two years had gone by, and just on a whim---you’re not supposed to do this---I e-mailed Dan directly to see if he was still interested, and he had a one-word response: “Ab-so-f******-lutely”.
(everyone laughs)
Presbyterian Outlook: So once you secured his participation, did the rest of the cast change?
Krokidas: Yes. I think of casting like a rainbow, and everyone having different colors. I consider how people look next to each other, even to the point of putting their pictures next to each other on the screen on my computer. Dan was so great about it that he offered to audition, which was an opportunity to see how some of the other people were going to interact with him. It’s a dream cast. These people are my absolute favorites, and I just couldn’t have asked for any better. It took ten years, but it was worth the wait.
PO : Did you consider it a conflict about the recent release of “Howl”? (released in 2010, also about Allen Ginsberg)
Krokidas: No, not at all, because that was an entirely different interpretation, as was “On The Road,” and others that have been done about The Beat Generation. This was the story of how they began, at Columbia University , when Allen Ginsberg enrolled as a freshman in 1943.
PO : Yeah, about that: my father was in college in 1942, and he said that all his buddies signed up for the Army with him. I was sitting there wondering, “Why didn’t these guys?”
Krokidas: Actually, and this was in an earlier version of the script, Ginsberg was drafted, but had a medical discharge, and of course one wound up in jail, and another in the Merchant Marine, later, but we decided that these side stories were a distraction. We did decide to put radio accounts of the progress of the War in the film, and also soldiers in uniform, who actually were temporarily housed in Columbia ’s dormitory.
PO : The setting looked very authentic.
Krokidas: Columbia University was amazingly cooperative, even allowing us to film inside the actual classrooms used then, and also across the street, in the overflow dormitory rooms at Union Theological Seminary. It all just added to the genuine feel of the filming.
PO : Congratulations on finally putting it all together. Is there a sequel in the works, about how they all later moved to California ?
Krokidas: Thank you! And yes, I hope so---let’s see how this one does!
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas