The Weird: The Al Yankovic Story biopic may have only released on Roku November 4, but it’s already gaining critical acclaim for its meta approach to telling the story of the comedic singer’s life. The film, in fact, is almost as much of a parody as Weird Al’s music—and the actors’ performances can’t be taken as honest interpretations of the real-life people they’re embodying. Take, for instance, Evan Rachel Wood, who was cast as Madonna in the film. In a new interview with E! News, Wood said she did try to learn as much as she could about the pop star’s mannerisms and perspective before taking on a somewhat alternate version of her.
“I watched tons of interviews, and I was constantly playing them on set just so I had the cadence of her voice and the tone in my head,” Wood said, seated beside her costar, Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Yankovic. “I just sort of let her loose on set and took the foundation that I had and turned it up and made it the most unhinged, sort of stage-mom-Madonna that one has ever seen.”
But her interpretation is in no way meant to be disrespectful.
“She was one of the first musical artists that I loved,” Wood said in another interview with MTV News. “I have memories of being 4 years old dancing to The Immaculate Collection in my living room. So it was like, ‘Oh right, yes, of course this is happening.’”
Wood continued, “She’s just completely unashamed in her confidence and how she views herself; how she carries herself in the world and in conversation. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a more confident human being... She had the perfect balance of sexuality while also being very empowered and in control. She was somehow able to be so overt and sensual while maintaining this air of a queen. That’s a hard line to straddle. I think there’s art in that. Nobody else is like her. There really is only one.”
In the Weird Al biopic, Wood shares a fictional relationship with Radcliffe’s Al, begging him to parody her new single “Like a Virgin” to get sales going. In reality, the real Weird Al and real Madonna only met one time at a backstage event in 1985, and certainly never dated.
Wood did try to honor some true aspects about the musical icon in her performance by watching interviews from the ’80s on YouTube.
“I needed to know how she was conversationally and the cadence of her voice, especially in that time period, because she evolves and changes so much. There have been so many iterations of Madonna,” Wood said. “There was clearly some leeway because it’s heightened and a parody, so it didn’t have to be 100 percent true. But I knew in the beginning I wanted the audience on my side, so I tried to make it as convincing as possible early on, so that when the character just flew off the handle by the end, the audience was still with me.”
Wood hopes that if Madonna sees the film, she doesn’t take the actress’s interpretation of her too seriously.
“I hope we can joke about it the next time I see her,” Wood added.