Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q: What about working second time round with Night?
A: It was great, especially after making Signs
18 months or so ago so. It was not like working with someone 10
years after the fact. We had developed a shorthand in Signs and
that was able to come over into this.
To be honest, there was also something intimidating about it.
Part of what’s good about working with someone that you’ve
never worked with before is they don’t know you and they
are getting to know the character - they don’t know the
difference between what’s you and what’s the character.
After Signs, Night and I got to know each other a lot better so
he was able to tell when I was bullshitting much easier than before
- so that was a little intimidating.
Q: What was your boot camp experience?
A: Are we sure we want to call it a boot camp? I know
it calls it that in the production notes. I know you didn’t
invent that. It was really just an opportunity for us to really
focus on the film, to not have any other distractions and to get
to know each other - really in character - and to develop our
relationships in character; which I think is really important.
It depends on the actors. There are some actors who really embrace
each part and try to lose themselves in the part. Then there are
others who are on their phones all the time. So to get all of
us actors together in an isolated environment was really beneficial.
At least I found it so.
Q: Did you - as it says in the production notes - go
into the night to face your fears of the dark?
A: No, that’s horse shit. I went into the woods
with Adrien and this kid, Fran, to sleep there one night. They
sent me to get wood and when I came back they were gone. I sat
around waiting, and suddenly sticks would fly at me from the dark
and there were some noises. That was really the extent of it.
It was like junior high pranks, not me facing my fear. They asked
me about this in some interviews, and I kind of went with the
lie. But then I thought, ‘this is ridiculous, I can’t
Q: Would you have done The Village if Night had not been
attached to it?
A: It’s an interesting question. Actually, I would
have. When we were making Signs, I said to Night that I had always
wanted to play a mute in a film. I wanted to know what it was
like to have to convey a range of emotions without having much
dialogue. So when I got the script, it was perfect. It was what
I had always wanted to try.
Q: Are you wary, though, when people say they have written
something for you?
A: It doesn’t give me hesitation, but I definitely
feel more pressure. With Night I always feel a great deal of pressure,
because he knows his films so well. He knows his characters so
well. He has a full history of each character.
You kind of get the sense that he could almost act the part better
than you could. That can be intimidating. With all good directors,
you always have a feeling that you don’t want to let them
down. I know with Night that each story is so personal, and that
he puts such a great deal of work into his screenplays. You feel
this overwhelming need to succeed.
Q: How do you feel when you give a great performance
in a great film and it doesn’t do well at the Box Office?
A: I’ll be totally honest. The only reason why
I care if a movie succeeds or not is that it allows me to continue
to work. A $100 million movie gives you great opportunities. But
for me, personally, it’s just the process of making the
film that I enjoy.
In some ways I couldn’t care less if someone sees it or
Q: How has your singing and guitar playing been coming
along for I Walk The Line?
A: Shameful. [smiles]. It is the strangest experience.
I have done three and a half months prepping for that film, and
I have never felt so inadequate in my life. It’s been quite
I have a much greater deal of respect for singers. It is incredibly
vulnerable to go out there, in front of a large number of people,
and sing. I also have a respect for people who lip synch to their
singing, because it’s very difficult to do.
We are doing live singing and playing and some to play back. I
don’t know how it’s going. I’m a terrible judge
Q: Are you going to recreate
a concert in the film?
A: Oh, we are doing like 10 concerts. I have already
Q: What’s that like?
A: Terrifying. [laughs] During prep, it is so foreign.
How can you imagine what it is to be up on stage performing these
songs? Once we are there, in wardrobe, you just have to command
the stage in a way. I don’t know. I lose myself in a way.
At some point, I just come to and the day’s over and they
say ‘you’ve wrapped’ and I go, ‘ok’.
I really have no concept of what happens once the camera starts
Q: You are just so immersed in the role?
A: Part of it a conscious attempt to lose yourself. One
of the things that I always see in bad acting is kind of a self-awareness.
Actors who watch their own movies, read their own interviews,
and look at pictures of themselves, start pulling faces and doing
things that they think are really good and interesting, and I
just try not to be self conscious and forget about myself.
Q: When you first read Signs what did you connect to
in that script?
A: I can’t think of anything. I wanted to work
with Night. I hadn’t seen The Sixth Sense when it came out
in the theatres. I was actually working on Gladiator
when it came out. I think Night wanted me to play the role that
Donnie Wahlberg played in The Sixth Sense.
They talked to me about that. When I was doing Gladiator, there
was one point where I had a break - like a week off - and I called
Casey Affleck on the phone and he said, ‘Man, there is this
new movie The Sixth Sense, you gotta see it. It’s unbelievable!’
That was the first that I heard about it. Then once I got back
to the States and it had come out on video, I saw it. I was like
‘Yeah, that’s the kind of movie that I would like
to make’. It was just the patience that Night has, and the
rhythm in his films, that really allows a scene to breathe.
He seems that he is as interested in the process of arriving at
the point of the scene, as much as anything. That’s what
I really like about acting - the opportunity to solve a problem.
You have the answer, but what gives you the answer? What is the
problem? You have to figure that out. That’s what acting
is to me, and I love that process.
Q: What was it like working with Sigourney Weaver and
A: Sigourney and I had a relationship like we had in
the film. I think she probably asked me a lot of questions and
I didn’t say much.
Q: Do you miss anything about the boot camp experience
and being isolated?
A: No, not that I disliked it. But when I work, I always
feel quite isolated and stop communicating with my friends and
family and just get into the work.
Q: Do you have plans to work with Night again?
A: If he’ll have me. Nothing is planned.
Q: What was your experience like on Ladder
A: It was amazing. Probably the most intensive research
I have ever done for a role. Certainly the most hands-on research
I have ever done.
Which was probably very important, because I felt a great obligation
to be true to these guys’ experience. It was exciting and
terrifying. I started at the training academy and did three weeks
I joined a class - Class 10 - and I wanted to first get the experience
of what it is to be a rookie and to go through the training and
kind of get the anticipation of being sent to a fire house. It’s
random where they send you and whether you are going to be on
the engine or whatever.
They should have seen their faces! They were so excited! That
was amazing, just to work with the instructors and overcoming
some fears. One of the things that you do is something called
a Maze, when they have a large, semi-truck that they have converted
into this maze. There is only crawling space. You are on your
stomach, and they blindfold you and put full gear on.
You go on, and from the moment they seal the door, if you lift
your head an inch it hits the roof, and you can’t go down.
So you start crawling with your hand extended, and suddenly there’s
a drop, and you have to figure how to turn round in that space.
I didn’t like that at first. Then, of course, there was
rappelling heights. Everybody was scared. You got to the top of
the tower and looked down! It was an amazing experience for me.
And then, finally, getting into the field and working with one
company and sticking with them for a month.
Q: So you went on call to a real fire?
A: I did everything that they did, but I felt completely
safe. I was absolutely petrified, but I did feel that ultimately
I was going to be ok. One of my great concerns was that one of
them would get harmed in trying to help me. Because they would
have helped me. They all told me that. They said ‘We will
go down to get you out.’ It was an amazing experience.