The Menu is a black comedy horror thriller and one of the best horror movies of 2022 (which is saying a lot, as 2022 is one of the all-time best years for horror, ever). The film follows a couple, Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) and Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy), as they venture to an island to enjoy a fine dining experience at the restaurant of renowned chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) with a handful of other carefully selected diners. As the evening progresses, the extremes the staff went to for this meal (such as forsaking their private lives entirely) and Slowik’s nefarious intention for the evening’s “menu” are made clear. The Menu pokes fun at the culture of pretentious foodies and experiences for the ultra-wealthy. It’s lightly scary and provides social commentary on income inequality.
On a budget of $30 million, The Menu has already grossed $76 million worldwide and earned positive reviews from fans and critics. The film is clearly a success, but there’s one thing that could have made it even better. At one point during production, Daniel Radcliffe was in talks to play himself.
The Menu producer Betsy Koch talked about the idea for Radcliffe to be in the film during a Q &A at the Fantastic Fest in Austin. Basically, Daniel would have played a spoiled, entitled version of himself. In addition to being perfect for the role because he fits the type of person who could afford such a luxury experience and Radcliffe is a good enough actor to competently act the part of a spoiled young Hollywood type, this would have also added another layer of humor into the film because Radcliffe would again be facing off against Ralph Fiennes. The two famously played mortal enemies Harry Potter and Voldemort in the iconic Harry Potter film series.
While it didn’t work out for Radcliffe to be in the film, his role morphed into the fictional character that was eventually played by John Leguizamo. The character is credited only as “movie star” but is named as George Díaz during the film. In The Menu, each of the dinner guests is invited to the doomed event for a specific reason. Chef Slowik says that George was invited because he felt the actor’s work in the fictional film Calling Doctor Sunshine was motivated by money and not a love of his craft. Slowik eviscerates the film, telling George:
I saw the film Calling Doctor Sunshine and I did not enjoy it. It was a Sunday. My one day off in months. The most precious day. The day where I was allowed to live. And I saw the film Calling Doctor Sunshine alone in the cinema. The memory of your face in that film, and seeing you again, now haunts me. Drives me. What happens to an artist when he loses his purpose? It’s pitiful.
If Daniel Radcliffe had been in the film, Slowik would have berated him for his “subpar” performance in the real 2015 sci-fi film Victor Frankenstein, in which Radcliffe played Igor. The film was negatively reviewed by critics and was a box-office bomb, failing to make back its $34.2-million budget. In the end, Leguizamo’s performance was great. His character was funny and a welcome addition to the ensemble cast, but it would have been great to see Radcliffe and Fiennes share the screen again.