In Daniel Radcliffe’s (Harry Potter franchise, A Young Doctor’s Notebook) new comedy series Miracle Workers, based on Simon Rich’s book What in God’s Name, he portrays Craig, a low-level angel with a big problem on his hands. God (Steve Buscemi, (Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos) is not the usual, loving entity we’re used to.
In this show, as writer Simon Rich explains, “He’s not omnipotent. God is the founder and CEO of Heaven, Inc and he’s very human. He has real flaws. He started Earth with a lot of good intentions But unfortunately, the project just got way too hard for him to manage.”
To prevent Earth’s destruction, Craig, along with his fellow angel Eliza (Geraldine Viswanathan, Blockers) must answer an impossible prayer, and help two people fall in love – where’s a good Hogswart spell when you need one?
Steve Buscemi and Daniel Radcliffe came to the TV Critics tour to talk about their new comedy. The series premiered on TBS February 12, 2019.
Daniel, how did this come to you, especially being an executive producer with Lorne Michaels?
Daniel Radcliffe: I met Lorne when I did Saturday Night Live. The connection with Lorne is really through Simon first and foremost. They go back to SNL together and, I’m sure, many other places. It’s been a special treat for me to be involved in the process of this project. I got involved at a much earlier stage than I have been with anything else that I’ve ever done and it has been amazing.
It’s been lovely to be involved in that process for the first time. I certainly hope that I’ve contributed something. I’ve been a fan of Simon’s writing and of this book, and I just think that the levels of the imagination, creativity, and humor jump off the page when you read his stuff, both the books and scripts. Just the chance to work with Simon and be a part of the group that tells these stories is really special.
Steve, this role seems like a great playground for an actor. Even on The Sopranos, you only kill one or two people at a time, and now you are going to blow up the whole earth.
Steve Buscemi: It’s a really fun character, especially this God because he’s very human. He has a lot of faults. He gets easily distracted, bored, depressed, discouraged and he’s looking for a way out, and it’s up to the people around him to not only save the Earth but save him from himself. And he wants to feel like he’s appreciated.
I love working on films and TV shows that are ensembles, and so it was just a gift, and Simon’s writing and the actors, it’s really a dream job.
Is the series about being careful what you ask for?
Daniel: It’s not one of the things that leaps out. I think there are unforeseen consequences for our actions, but it’s never a consequence of Sam and Laura asking to be made a couple. I think you get some very well-intentioned actions leading to some very bad things, but there’s not a sense of karma or us having some reprisal.
Do you think you’d make a good matchmaker?
Daniel: I was very unsuccessful. I got two friends together who I thought would get on really well because they both liked partying. Well no, they both got drunk. Apparently one of them got really angry. It was a disaster, it really backfired.
Steve, is it fun to play a god who isn’t god; he’s just a guy?
Steve: Yeah, that’s what I liked about him is that he’s got a lot of problems and he’s often overwhelmed and confused and just a little bit lazy. But I think he’s got a good heart.
It’s not like he’s a God that’s holier than thou. I relate to him. I’m playing this intellectualized version of God. Plus, I have a wonderful script that Simon wrote. We had all of the scripts to read before we started shooting, and we rehearsed and talked about it a lot.
I think he’d like things to work out, but he’s over his head. His initial idea was good. It was fun and interesting and engaged people’s free will. And he just doesn’t know how to contain or run it. So he just checks out.
Do you think about your own mortality more when you’re working on a show like this?
Daniel: I think about it constantly anyway. I think I’m quite morbid so I often do. I think that this is such a fun world that Simon’s created. Also, I don’t particularly believe in an afterlife, but if there was one and it was like this, I’d be very happy.
Steve: If heaven is like Simon’s heaven, then I’m happy to go there because it seems like the technology in heaven stopped in the ‘70s and that’s true with me. So I’d feel very comfortable there. It’s more my speed.