Thanks for drinking a gin and tonic with me.
It doesn’t take much convincing. I don’t mind.
I read that you like a grey snail.
Ohh, the grey snail [drink]… You know about that? It’s terrible. Yeah. My first bar job they made me do that. It was like your induction or whatever. Your initiation. You take the bar mat at the end of the night [and pour it into a shot glass]. I mean it’s not like there are any boogers in there or anything. It’s all booze. Well, there might be some boogers.
Were you a good bartender?
I was actually not a bartender. I was a floor guy. It was a weird job because you stand on the floor and you’re supposed to keep an eye out and make sure there isn’t trouble, but you’re not allowed to actually touch anybody. So if you see something go down you’re just like, “Stop! Stop doing that!”, which doesn’t really work very well. It was a horrible job. And then when it was slow, they’d make me stand on the sidewalk and hand out free watermelon shot tickets.
What bar was this?
It’s called The Hangge-Uppe. On Elm Street.
When’s the last time you’ve been to The Hangge-Uppe?
It’s not really my vibe. I don’t get invited to a lot of bachelorette parties.
I thought it was interesting you said shooting the first scene in your new thriller, “99 Homes”, made you nervous as an actor because it was done in one shot. Is that the first time you’ve been nervous in a while or does every project push you in different ways?
No, I get nervous all of the time. That’s the thing, no matter how long you act, you never really figure out the perfect way to do it. Every job you gotta start at square one. Acting isn’t something that you necessarily get better at the longer you do it. You can get worse. You can completely lose your talent altogether. I’ve seen it happen to other people, so you’ve always got to be diligent. You can’t relax. Except when you’re supposed to relax.
You play a ruthless real estate broker, Rick Carver, that evicts Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield), a single father, and offers him a deal with the devil to win his home back. I hear you ad-libbed the last line in the movie.
Yes. It was a line I came up with. What happened was the writer and director of the film, Ramin Bahrani, didn’t know how to end it. He had a screen direction that was like, “Rick and Dennis look at each other,” and he’s like, “Well, that’s lame. I know I need something more, but I just don’t know what it should be.” He wanted to have a meeting about it to try and figure it out and I said, “No, let’s see what happens.” He said, “But it’s the ending. It’s the ending.” I said, “Yeah, but we’re not going to figure it out going to have a cup of coffee. We just need to show up and see what happens.” So that’s what we did.
Did you walk off set thinking, “Nailed it!”?
[Laughs] He said I got a little smirk on my face after.
You just knew it felt right?
Yeah, yeah. But I don’t want to over-congratulate myself. I mean that’s the thing, it’s just the release of everything that’s led up to that moment. You know, it’s just a natural progression.
Whose idea was the electronic cigarette that your character smoked?
That was Ramin’s.
Was that the first time you ever smoked one?
Yeah it was. The story behind that is that Ramin’s last movie called “At Any Price” was with Dennis Quaid and when he met Dennis he was smoking an e-cigarette and Ramin had never seen one before. He didn’t know what it was. So after a while he finally got up the nerve to say, “What are you doing? What is that?” And Dennis said, “It’s an e-cigarette. It’s the best. You should try it.” Ramin was like, “No, no…,” but he loved the image of it. He was smoking the black one with the blue tip and Ramin just filed it away and thought, “I got to put that in a movie someday.”
It fit your character.
Well, yeah I feel like he’s always… he’s a very tense guy and he’s always about to blow a gasket I think, so it’s like the steam coming out of his steaminess.
Your character was also charismatic. You would’ve convinced me to be your protégé as you did to Nash.
He’s a good boss, as long as you do what he tells you to do.
Do you think your best work is done when you’re not over-prepared or does being prepared give you the confidence to take more risks?
That’s an interesting question. I think it depends on the project. I mean, something like “99 Homes”, I didn’t know anything about real estate or Florida. It was completely foreign to me. If I wouldn’t have done some research I would have been really bad, but some things you work on and they are more just a product of imagination and creativity, particularly with theatre. Then if you’re playing a real person, you have an obligation to study them.
That’s got to be a little more stressful, too.
Oh yeah. It is. Particularly if they are still alive and you know they are going to see the movie. Like I got this other movie, “Freeheld,” that’s coming out and I’m playing a real guy, Dane Wells, but he saw the movie and gave me his blessing.
What questions do you appreciate when you’re being interviewed and what questions bother you? Hopefully I haven’t asked any of those yet.
No you haven’t. Well, what bothers me… I’ve dealt with a lot of people kind of categorizing all of my work into one category saying, “You always play this guy…” I’m like, “No I don’t.” Every character that I play is a different person. They may have some similar characteristics, but they are different people so that bothers me, but most questions I’m perfectly happy to answer. Other than that, I don’t really mind.
After an intense day on set, how do you unwind and get out of character?
I go eat. Usually I’m really hungry. I have a hard time eating when I’m at work because I don’t like acting with food in my stomach. It just seems wrong, so by the end of the day I’m usually starving.
What’s your go-to meal after shooting?
Well, it depends… with “99 Homes” we were shooting in New Orleans so that was awesome. There was a restaurant called Sylvain that both myself and the director liked quite a bit. It’s right by Jackson Square in New Orleans— delicious restaurant. I’d go there and get some fish and a Moscow Mule.
I also heard you like fried chicken. We were going to bring you up some buttermilk fried chicken from Miss Ricky’s.
You just think that because I’m from Kentucky.
“99 Homes” wasn’t your first movie that had to do with eviction.
It wasn’t? What was it? Tell me!
In “8 Mile” you played Eminem’s mom’s boyfriend.
Oh yeah! That was a bad real estate situation for sure. That’s funny. That seems like such a long time ago.
Are there any roles that you’ve passed up that you regret?
No. That hasn’t happened yet. There are some things I really wanted that I didn’t get.
Do you believe that everything happens for a reason?
Well, it certainly seems that way. I’m very fortunate, you know? I could be like a homeless person or something, and I’m not. I’m not saying that happened for a reason. I don’t know why that happened, but no… I feel like I’ve been very lucky. I’ve met the right people. There is nobody that does well in acting all by themselves. The nature of it is collaborative. I can’t do anything unless somebody writes a script, unless somebody directs it and unless somebody shoots it. Unless other people do it with me, I’m worthless.
Who is the nicest person you’ve worked for in Hollywood and who gave you the hardest time on set?
[Laughs] I’ve met so many nice people. I was really fortunate to get to work with Sidney Lumet before he died. He is one of my favorite directors and a very, very kind man. You’re talking about a guy who had been making movies for decades, had worked with all of the biggest movie stars in the world and he was just such a down-to-earth guy. Just showed up in blue jeans and his corduroy shirt. You wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a crowd. He was so much about just doing the work. A beautiful, beautiful man. I’m so glad I got to [work with him.] I did a couple of scenes in “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” which was his last movie. In terms of people that [can give you a hard time on set]… I don’t think it’s any secret at this point that Michael Bay can sometimes be difficult to work with. Although, I had a great time! We had a good rapport together. The secret with Michael is just to give him some sh-t back and then he thinks you’re funny. If you act all scared and like, “Oh no! He’s going to fire me!” then he goes in for the kill. But if you’re like, “I don’t care, whatever,” [you’ll be okay.]
When you read the sorority letter on “Funny or Die” did you ever break out laughing? How did you keep a straight face?
I was okay, but the other people that were there sometimes would kind of lose it a little bit, so then I would. I’m very susceptible to that. I didn’t really know what I was saying sometimes because I was never in a sorority, so I don’t really know.
You’re also in the folk-rock band, Corporal. Any shows coming up?
No. We don’t have time. We’re all too busy. I’ll be here until the middle of December, off and on [for “Pilgrim’s Progress” at A Red Orchid Theatre].
We’re going to ask this question on Periscope. If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?
Wow. Jesus. I’d have a drink with Jesus. I’d just want to taste what that wine was like. The wine he made. I bet it’s probably the best wine, and it’s probably pretty cheap because I’m sick of getting ripped off for wine.
SEE MORE OF THE ACTION AT VIRGIN HOTELS ON “THE VIRGIN VOICE”
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