Kill Your Darlings depicts the coming of age of poet Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) in 1940s New York City, including his tentative exploration of his homosexuality and his first encounters with fellow Beat icons William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston). But the focus is on a real-life crime usually relegated to the footnotes of the authors’ biographies: the 1944 murder of David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) by Ginsberg associate Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan). ”It’s a story that not many people know but everybody should,” says DeHaan, who describes the 24-day, no-frills, trailer-free shoot last year as ”having something very Beat poet about it.”
But first-time director John Krokidas’ plans for a completely low-key production were thwarted on the second day, when a busful of Brooklyn schoolchildren spotted Radcliffe. ”Seeing Harry Potter? They started shouting with joy,” Krokidas says. ”All of the crew is looking at me, and I have no idea what to do. But Dan was like, ‘John, I got this,’ and walked over to the bus and told the children, ‘Hi, everyone! We’re making a movie, and this is imagination time. During imagination time we all have to be completely quiet. Can you do that for me?”’ The director laughs. ”And they all stayed quiet!” Now, that’s movie magic.