Great! I think probably my training. I come from a traditional theater background. Stella Adler was one of my teachers and that training was you didnt drag the material down to yourself. You lifted yourself up. You were in service to the material. You were trying to get rid of yourself. We were doing a lot of character work. Right now, most actors are personalities and acting is not what they were talking about when I was being taught by these old masters. I became an actor so I didnt have to be myself. I like to disappear in the parts I play.
What was the biggest stretch for you?
Probably In the Cut. Who he is, his profession, where he comes from, his experience of the world is just so far away from anything Ive ever done or been or seen.
Is this nice guy in 13 Going on 30 closer to the real you?
I live a bourgeois life. I have a kid and I dont like parties and I did all my drinking and drug use very early on when I was in Virginia Beach. I get my kicks from my work. The ease of his life is probably closer to mine.
I hear you werent thrilled having to dance in this film.
The dancing was horrible! I almost didnt want to do this movie. I literally read it and Im like, I cant do this movie. I cant get up and do those scenes. Im like, White boy dont dance. When [Jennifer] dragged me out [onto the dance floor], she was literally dragging me out. I had hours of rehearsal with a dance coach who taught me how to do all the moves and stuff and still, when we got into actually shooting it and there were 300 extras around, I did not want to do that scene.
Do you ever have sleepless nights worrying about an upcoming scene?
Sure. Usually, the first night before I start working on a picture, I cant sleep. If its a particularly difficult scene, I have a hard time sleeping. Im worried about it. But, always, the night before I start something, I cant sleep very well.
How do you keep in touch with how you felt as a teen?
I look at what kids have as input these days and man, thats intense stuff. Theyre ironic little kids. I enjoyed growing up part of my life in Virginia Beach. We had the ocean and the beach and a beautiful landscape. We were outdoors all the time and we played outside. There was a lot to do. I really cherish that time. I remember riding my bike down the boardwalk with nowhere to go and looking at the girls. It was really innocent. As were bombarded with the imagery that we are and now, post 9-11, its hard not to get hardened by the world and the amount of violence thats allowed to be shown to kids these days. I dont think I have a problem with kids seeing sex. Theyre introducing heavy artillery to our kids in cartoons and thats not a problem.
So do you disagree with the FCC trying to clamp down on certain things?
Im baffled by the amount of violence. If were going to go after something, lets bring that into the loop, too. That kind of stuff, its so shocking, I dont see how it cant imprint on a young persons mind. Crack down on the right things. Sex doesnt seem to be the problem to me. Were all gonna do it. Its how we procreate. Thats not the problem. The problem to me is violence. Its not cool to kill somebody or hurt people.
Why do you think were more worried about sex than violence?
Because were a really puritanical culture. Were warriors, this culture, and were very puritanical about sex and very embracing about violence and I dont know why that is. It seems odd to me. One embraces life and one destroys life. I dont understand it. This country consumes more pornography than any other country in the world. Lets grow up. Theres some not facing reality going on.
How do you live every day with this problem?
In my life and the people I know this doesnt exist. Theres the illusion of pop culture and then real peoples lives. Ive come to realize that they are two different things.