The Daniel Radcliffe joke that was cut from The Menu
John Leguizamo is hilarious in horror-comedy The Menu, playing an egotistical actor whose best years are behind him. But in an earlier incarnation of the script, one of that character’s best jokes concerned a very specific Daniel Radcliffe movie.
The Menu is a black comedy that’s punctuated with moments of horror. The story concerns an elite group dining at an exclusive destination restaurant where a world-class chef has some surprises in store for his guests.
Ralph Fiennes is the chef in question, while his patrons are played by the likes of Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, Judith Light, Arturo Castro, and the aforementioned Leguizamo.
You can read our review of The Menu here, while below we’re delving into details concerning how the script has been changed, so BEWARE OF SPOILERS AHEAD…
John Leguizamo IS Doctor Sunshine
In the finished film, John Leguizamo plays a “movie star” whose career has somewhat stalled. And like the other guests, Chef Slowik has a bone to pick with him.
During the taco course of the meal, each diner receives a tortilla that has been laser-engraved with words or images designed to evoke strong memories. In the actor’s case, it’s a poster for his movie Goodbye Doctor Sunshine, of which the movie star says “Dumb part. Bad script. Fun shoot.”
But it’s that movie which has ruffled Slowik’s feathers. As the chef explains: “I saw the film Calling Doctor Sunshine and I did not enjoy it. It was a Sunday. My one day off in months. The most precious day. The day where I was allowed to live. And I saw the film Calling Doctor Sunshine alone in the cinema. The memory of your face in that film, and seeing you again, now haunts me. Drives me. What happens to an artist when he loses his purpose? It’s pitiful.”
So Calling Doctor Sunshine is why the movie star is suffering the same fate as everyone else at the dinner. But before Leguizamo was cast in the role, this joke – and the movie in question – was very different.
The Daniel Radcliffe joke that got cut from The Menu
When The Menu screened at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, producer Betsy Koch did a Q&A alongside director Mark Mylod and star Hong Chau. During the conversation, Kotch revealed that the movie star part was initially written with another actor in mind.
“At one point – way back in the day in an earlier version – we were talking about Daniel Radcliffe playing that role” reveals Koch. “And they did choose the very specific Frankenstein movie that he’s in. So it was written that way initially.”
Koch is referring to Victor Frankenstein, the 2015 action-horror which starred James McAvoy as the title character, and Radcliffe as his assistant Igor. That film grossed $34 million from a $40 million budget, and currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 26%.
A real-world reference like that would have brought the house down. But The Menu doesn’t need such a meta gag, as Leguizamo is hilarious in the role, and Calling Doctor Sunshine works perfectly as the fictional film sealing his fate.
The Menu is currently streaming on Disney+ in the UK, and HBO Max in the States.