Steve Buscemi and Daniel Radcliffe is a perfect pairing up of personalities that we didn’t see coming. As two of the main cast members of the TBS anthology series Miracle Workers, they’ve certainly shared some screen time together over the show’s first two seasons in heaven and the Middle Ages, respectively. But for Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail, their talents are going head to head, as we find their polar opposite characters butting heads as they hit the Oregon Trail.
“I mean life was pretty challenging back then,” Buscemi says of playing the character of the outlaw Benny the Teen. “And I think that the writers did a pretty good job of throwing in all of the elements that could happen, they did make it happen to us. And for me to play an outlaw, and I loved the relationship between my character and Dan’s character because we really are opposites. But there’s sort of a mutual respect and he like each other but we’re constantly [butting heads]. That’s always fun.”
For his part, Radcliffe is a self-declared history nerd who was looking forward to jumping into the Oregon Trail. “The way they pitched it to me was also incredibly dark, which obviously you can’t make an Oregon Trail show without delving into some of that Donner (?) party darkness at some point. And we do and it’s pretty incredibly. But as soon as I heard Oregon Trail, I was very very excited by that. I’m a bit of a history nerd. So I was like ‘Yes. That was a really awful time period. Let’s make something about that.’”
When we asked Radcliffe, who has publicly talked about being an atheist, whether he got a kick out of playing a priest in this season, he replied “Oh yeah, I do. But not joy in a way that I’m like wanting to make fun. People whose religion leads them to just like sincerely care about other people and want them best for them, I have nothing but respect. I’m not somebody who’s anti-people being religious when it has that kind of great affect. So I think there’s been a lot of amazing religious people, and I think Zeke is one of them. He’s a very moral, caring person. He is obviously too kind of rigid in his religious morality, and that is one of the things that as the season goes on he realizes that with the hell of Benny that he cannot afford to be this rigid in his morality when he is on the Oregon trail. But he is a very sweet, kind, ultimately kind of hapless character.”
Over the years, Buscemi has become known as a rare actor who can swiftly leap between comedic and dramatic performances. But despite first being seen in a large way in Reservoir Dogs, it was actually comedy that he was initially drawn to.
Buscemi says “I’ve just always liked doing different things. If anything, I’m just surprised that I have done a lot of dramatic roles, because when I was growing up, comedy was the thing that I really loved. I loved stand-up and I loved sitcoms and I loved funny movies. And I did go to acting school and all that, but I was as surprised as anyone when I would get cast as a bad guy or a tough guy. (Laughs). And I feel very lucky that I’m able to do both. In the past, I’ve done a lot of independent film and serious films and adventure films. And comedies, like this or working with Adam Sandler where I really get to explore that side, I just feel grateful that I’m able to do it all. But I don’t know if there was ever a moment. Actors, in general, I think that they love to have variety and mix it up.”
Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail airs Tuesdays on TBS.