In the movie, Radcliffe is the hunchback Igor, who lived despite the terrible treatment he’s had from the circus handlers he’s worked for and even defied death upon meeting a brilliant yet sociopath scientist “Victor Frankenstein” (James McAvoy taking on the titular role). As The Hunchback, a lowly circus clown and dogsbody in the early part of the film, who, when he meets scientist Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) is transformed into Igor after Frankenstein performs a simple procedure to cure his disfigurement. Igor had spent his entire life in the circus, working as a clown. Although he’s much maligned and even abused by the owner and his fellow performers, Igor has become a gifted surgeon, healing injured performers and animals.
Director Paul McGuigan was especially drawn to screenwriter Max Landis’ decision to tell the story through Igor’s eyes. That notion points to a key misperception about the character and his role in Frankenstein lore. Igor was not a character in Mary Shelley’s book, nor did he appear in most of the subsequent film interpretations. Actor Dwight Frye’s hunchbacked lab assistant in James Whale’s “Frankenstein” (1931) is the main source for the “Igor” of public imagination, though the character he played was actually named Fritz. Most moviegoers know the character through Marty Feldman’s performance in Mel Brooks’ beloved comedy “Young Frankenstein,” though Feldman’s character insists on being called “Eye-gore.”
“Victor lifts Igor out of those horrible conditions, which sets up an interesting dynamic in their relationship,” says Radcliffe. “He has created a new life for Igor. As Igor and Victor embark on this journey together, Victor starts losing his mind, and Igor tries to pull him back from the edge of insanity. But how do you stand up to somebody after they’ve given you everything? So, there’s an imbalance and tension in their relationship that is fascinating to me.”
Like Victor, Igor is a man of action. “Igor is quite well matched with Victor, in terms of physicality,” says Radcliffe. That translated into a lot of what Radcliffe calls “chucking each other around,” including the aforementioned and vigorous hunchback-removing procedure.
“Victor Frankenstein” opens November 25 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.
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