The surprising thing Daniel Radcliffe learned playing a white supremacist in his new movie

Daniel Radcliffe ImperiumLionsgateDaniel Radcliffe in ‘Imperium.’

Around when Daniel Radcliffe first read the script for his new movie, “Imperium,” Dylann Roof had just shot and killed nine Charleston churchgoers in hopes of starting a race war.

Radcliffe’s character in the film, Nate Foster, is an FBI agent who goes undercover in a white supremacy group and finds himself talking with fellow extremists about starting a race war of their own.

“My dad’s from Northern Ireland  —  he grew up during the troubles. I grew up with an awareness that terrorists come from everywhere and have all sorts of motivations and so it seemed like that was a very relevant thing,” Radcliffe recently told Business Insider before a TimesTalks event to promote “Imperium,” which is out August 19. “But I don’t think either of us envisaged that white supremacy might take this sort of bizarre jag toward the mainstream or rather that the mainstream might jag toward that by the time it came out.”

The idea of white supremacy in the mainstream also came up at the TimesTalks event, and New York Times culture reporter Melena Ryzik said that either Radcliffe or “Imperium” director Daniel Ragussis was prime for making a joke about Donald Trump, but both refrained from overtly commenting on the Republican presidential nominee.

Instead, Ragussis said a feeling of victimization and oppression is “the seed” of totalitarian movements that is “far more prerequisite of it than a figure like Mussolini or Hitler.”

Radcliffe told Business Insider that in the process of making the film, he decided that talking to people on the fringes of politics is the most important way to move forward.

“Somebody’s life who prior to that had no meaning suddenly feels like they are engaged in something meaningful and I think my biggest takeaway from this film is that as much as we want to demonize these people and in a way demonize their views, we should try and find a way of getting them into this conversation unfortunately as awful as that sounds because the more you ostracize them and aggressively dismiss them, the more it just plays into their worldview that everything is a conspiracy against them,” Radcliffe said.

Ragussis, who joined Radcliffe in an interview with Business Insider, agreed, saying that catchall terms like “monster” aren’t helpful.

“They don’t give you any access as to the mechanism that’s going on there and why the people are behaving the way they are,” Ragussis said. “I think if you’re going to try to dismantle that or change it, you have to understand what’s going on and what’s happening.”

The actor and director’s thoughts back the idea that living in constant fear that others are out to get you will cause a person to act out violently, which a former FBI criminal profiler told Business Insider in 2015

Watch the full TimesTalks interview with Daniel Radcliffe and “Imperium” director Daniel Ragussis:

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