Question from an Audience Member: What role did you love doing the most?
“That is really hard to answer because they are like your children and you think about them and you think well. Some of the roles you had the most fun doing they turn out to be a real bomb you’ve been in and there are roles you’ve been in… I remember growing up – I’ve got to tell you this because it is a good story in terms of what our life is as actors. I went up and I was in the Provinces, I was in Boston doing repertory. I was really young. I was brought up there to do a play because I was supposed to be really right for this part. My contract said I had to be in another play too, not just the one. I had to be in this one called the American Hurrah, which is a series of vignettes. I had to play a gym teacher and I had to play a guy who sits in a ratings room all day. And I thought, ‘What are these characters?’ But I had to do it because of my contract. Secretly I knew I wasn’t right for the other play, and the other plays that I was in, the ones I didn’t want to do, but those were the ones somehow I saw.
It was really fun for me to play this ratings guy who had a crush on a girl. It was really funny and interesting, but the Odets play, I’ll never forget this and neither will you when you hear it. I’m in this play and it opens and I’m backstage, and backstage there is this speaker that comes out so you can hear what is going on on stage. When you hear your cue, you go on. You get prepared and you go on. So here I am backstage and I hear this guy in his dressing room going, ‘Yeah! Man! Whoa! Yeah!’ So I come around the corner and say, ‘Hey, what’s the matter here?’ He says, ‘No, nothing.’ And he is reading a newspaper. I say, ‘What do you mean nothing?’ He says, ‘Uuuuh.’ I said, ‘Can I see it?’ And he goes off and the paper is there and he says, ‘It’s the review.’ And wow it was fantastic. It said, ‘This is the greatest, most fantastic…’ All of a sudden it gets to ‘the one exception Al Pacino! If you can tolerate him.’
As I’m reading this I hear my cue. I had to go out and perform. I laughed. I was young enough to laugh. I found it funny, but it hurt, but it was funny, but it hurt, but it was funny. I sort of knew it, too. I thought it wasn’t going that well, but I didn’t think I was that bad. I love that story because it shows how we don’t know, we never do. I don’t think I do now. I get the feeling from certain roles, like I best stay away from that one, but I’ve gotta tell you that was a surprise. Ever since then I’ve thought, ‘Do everything.’ When you are a young actor do everything because that is when you learn what you can do. I’m the only one who knew I wasn’t really right for this part, but I looked the part. One would think I was right for it.
I just heard that someone wanted to cast Cameron Diaz in something and they were saying, ‘Cameron Diaz, this is the part for you. Look how she looks.’ And Cameron Diaz said, ‘No, that part is who I am, the other part.’ That is one of the traps in success and fame is that you keep getting cast in parts that have worked before for you. That is what was so great about Charlize when she did Monster. You really saw an artist and actress really go after something that was connected to her. She had to do that part because she wanted to break that mold. I was so excited when she did that. I really was happy for her. Then I saw the Peter Sellers thing where she played Ursula Andrews and she was great in that too. You put yourself out and about and you start trying all different things on, especially things people say you can’t do, just go for it. That’s it.”
Would you prefer to play an older Macbeth or a younger King Lear?
“Well I think the Scottish play is something I’ve always been told I should do. He does have a time of it. I think the Scottish play would interest me. They offered me a movie of it, by the way, and I thought not right now. I don’t have any aspirations in Shakespeare anymore. I love Shakespeare of course, but I need someone to come to me and say, ‘I have this idea,’ and then I would say, ‘Let’s go play with it a little bit.’ But other that I haven’t been thinking that way. You know, when you get older as an actor you have all this stuff to look forward to… (Laughing) But I’m only 42.”