I don't take trouble at all to conform a screenplay to my iconography. I don't say, "We can't do that - the audience wouldn't accept it." I try to take the limitations of what is required to play a leading character and then screw with them.
The capacity to create [visual] effects in the computer has made the job easier, but it has also introduced the complexity that you can with a few more keystrokes generate such a busy canvas that the eye doesn't know where to go. You lose human scale on an event and you're just wowed by the kinetics and the visualization. But, often in those cases I feel you lose touch with the human characters and what it is that they would feel and how they might feel, and that's still the most important part.
The trick of this thing and the beauty of this thing is that it's a cowboy movie first and then stuff happens. Even after stuff happens it doesn't change - it hasn't suddenly changed into another kind of movie. It's still a cowboy movie. And that's what's incredible about it because nobody has done that before, that's new territory.
Acting is not about competing. Acting is about cooperating. Acting is about collaboration. It's about your utility, your usefulness, your capacity to add to the work that has already been done and will be done. You're just part of a team. I never feel competitive about acting.
Because the character is a fiction, he's a composite of other contributors to the science that brought this enzyme therapy through the process. We had the opportunity to make him up out of those things that helped tell the story. We wanted to create both ally and antagonist for John [in the Extraordinary measures].
I realized early on that success was tied to not giving up. Most people in this business gave up and went on to other things. If you simply didn't give up, you would outlast the people who came in on the bus with you.
I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so nothing of what I was studying seemed to fit. I know now that I should have taken advantage of that time and that I missed a great deal of the opportunity to educate myself.
I just like the process of taking something written on a sheet of paper and giving it life and shape. I like the collaborative process of filmmaking, which is all simply to say that I love my work and I would continue to look for things that have the potential to be engaging and successful.
What's important is to be able to see yourself, I think, as having commonality with other people and not determine, because of your good luck, that everybody is less significant, less interesting, less important than you are.
There are a lot of different paths through the jungle, but...the simplest thing you can do is make yourself useful. Be easy to work with, be a hard worker and help people get the job done. And do it with as much passion and quality as you can.
It doesn't matter to me whether I go back to outer space or not [while acting]. The job's the same and I don't have any sort of genre preferences. I'm looking for a good story and a good character, whether earthbound or not.
What I look for is identifying what the utility of a character is to the telling of the story overall. If I can identify that from reading the script, then I've got a clear idea of whether or not I think the character is worth playing.
In relationships with a directors, I want to be able to give and take, and I can't name what it is: respect, energy, investment in the task, focus, humor, intelligence, but I always feel responsible for taking the money.
I think American films right now are suffering from an excess of scale. Lots of movies we're seeing now are more akin to video games than stories about human life and relationships. Twelve- to 20-year-olds are maybe the largest economic force in the US movie business. I'm not a very nostalgic person - but I enjoy a good story.
Los Angeles is where you have to be if you want to be an actor. You have no choice. You go there or New York. I flipped a coin about it. It came up New York, so I flipped again. When you're starting out to be an actor, who wants to go where it's cold and miserable and be poor there?
What I think is important for a young person is to figure out how to be useful and not be so concentrated on themselves, but to see what they can do to make the overall collaboration with all the other people involved in a movie work better.
As a matter of fact, that was a bit of a problem for me at the beginning of my career - the problem of identification. In The Conversation I played a character who was gay, so nobody recognised me from American Graffiti. When I did Apocalypse Now, after Star Wars, I played an intelligence officer of the American army. George Lucas saw the footage I had done and didn't recognise me until halfway through the scene.
I get an opportunity to communicate with the audience about the movie that I've made. I get the chance to bring attention to the film that I've made. I care a lot about the movies that I make. I want them to reach an audience, and I want them to be successful. I promote nearly everything that I do, unless I've got some bad taste in my mouth.
What is news? It's hard to quantify. Certainly news has changed completely, and the morning shows are not really designed to bring you the news, except to tell you what happened overnight, and the rest of it is a kind of magazine mentality - a little bit of this, a little bit of that. It's harder to be an educated and informed citizen.
I have children. I have other concerns. I have other focuses. I really feel very sympathetic and I would love to be able to help but I don't see this as the opportunity, having done 'Extraordinary measures', for me to suddenly leap on a soap box and begin to talk about the pharmaceutical industry or the desperate plight of sick children. I do what I can in my world but I don't have the bona fides to do that right now.
I think I did have a reputation for being grumpy. I don't think I'm grumpy. I have opinions. I have an independent vision. I am a purposeful person. But on a daily basis, I think I'm other than grumpy. I think it is a case where I am coming to do business and not there just to be flattered and cajoled and used.