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1. Q - "Who is your favorite character in all of literature and film?"
A - That is so hard to answer. I will say that James Dean’s performance as Cal in East of Eden is largely the reason I became a film actor. His role in that is one of my favorite characters in cinema. But then we can go all the way to Rasputin or we can go to Dmitri Karamazov. Dmitri Karamazov is one my favorite characters in literature. I love him so much because he’s so happy and he has no money. He’s just living it up. He spent all his money trying to get the girl.
I did the same thing once. I was very Dmitri Karamazov in high school. The most beautiful girl in high school who was a grade older than me invited me to the prom but I had no money. My grandmother gave each of us a little bond. My older brother bought a car. My second oldest brother bought some stereo equipment. And I splashed out on a chauffeur-driven limousine, a tuxedo and a four course meal at Le Dome on Sunset blvd. The car was $2000, the stereo was $2000, and my prom night was $2000 and man, that was money well spent. THAT’s Dmitri Karamazov.
2. Q: I have a 2 regarding the movie Willy's Wonderland. Did you or the director decide that you would not say a single word the whole movie, and 2, every time you went to "recharge" (grab a can from 6 pack) was it secretly filled with alcohol or anything like that?
A: The dialogue for my character in Willy’s Wonderland was very sparse, so I decided with Kevin, the director, to go full Harpo Marx and take all the dialogue out because I thought that would be a fun acting challenge to see how much I could communicate without words and only with movement and facial expressions. I’m very happy with the results of Willy’s Wonderland. It was a good experiment.
The can question is an interesting one, and I hesitate to answer it for you because your relationship with the movie is far more important than my relationship with the movie and so you as the audience member can imagine and surmise whatever you want to be in that can. That is a far better answer and reason for the can than anything I could tell you. I want YOUR opinion as to what was in the can, because that was the right opinion.
3. Q: You and Pedro seemed like you had so much fun making this movie; what is one story you don’t mind sharing that you haven’t yet about your experience with filming and working with Pedro?
A: First and foremost, Pedro Pascal is a genuinely nice man. You couldn’t ask for a nicer more pleasant person to work with. Second, he has a very unique sense of humor. It’s the kind of sense of humor where I don’t know if he’s really making a joke or he isn’t making a joke. Such as comment about the appearance of a cabbage in a cabbage field. And it made me wonder if he was a method actor and was in character and adding a kind of confused dimension to the Javi role, or if he genuinely thought the cabbage was amusing. I am still confounded by this. I mean who makes a joke about cabbage, except him? It’s just not funny!
4. Q: What has been your most challenging role to get into character each day to film? What is your favorite character that you've ever portrayed?
A: I would say that Nick Cage in Massive Talent was the most challenging role I had to get into character for because I had the added component of trying to protect a person named Nick Cage and also facilitating the director’s absurdist vision of so-called Nick Cage and it was a highwire act every day.
Again, Pig is my favorite performance of mine, and I think that movie, along with Scorsese’s Bringing Out The Dead are arguably my two best movies as a whole
5. Q: I know you have a love of the silent era, especially the German expressionist stuff. What’s your favorite silent film?
A: Boy that’s a hard list to conjure up because there are so many memorable ones but I would say that Lon Chaney in Phantom of the Opera comes to mind but Nosferatu, Schreck, his performance, and even Barrymore in Jekyll and Hyde. I think that Barrymore did more to inspire Schreck’s performance than the other way around. Oh, and anything Chaplin did was magic: City Lights, Modern Times. It depends on the season!
6. Q: "Pig" was an absolutely incredible film, what drew you to that project, and why do you think that it struck a cord with so many people?
A: Thank you. I was interested in returning to a more quiet, naturalistic style of film performance, having done a series of more operatic performance styles. The movie feels rather like a folk song to me or a poem, and the character of Rob was contending with tremendous grief and self imposed isolation and I think we as a group of people experiencing a pandemic in 2020-21 we’re probably also having similar feelings of loss and isolation and it communicated to a nerve we were all experiencing. It's one of my favorite movies, and it's probably my best work.
7. Q: Have you seen Leaving Las Vegas recently? I think that is my all time favorite Nicolas Cage performance. How do you feel thinking back on Leaving Las Vegas and your performance in it?
A: Thank you. I think Leaving Las Vegas, Pig and Bringing Out The Dead are my three favorite performances of my own body of work. I have not seen Leaving Las Vegas recently, however that movie and Elizabeth Shue’s work in that movie are what I aspire to continue towards, and did continue towards with Pig, which is why I am always going to be up for small budget, independent, dramas.
8. Q: Ethan Hawke said that you're the first actor since Marlon Brando to do something new with the art of acting. Any thoughts on that?
A: It’s very kind of Ethan to say so, as you may well know, I’ve worked with Ethan in Lord of War and have always been spellbound by his talent. I think many of the choices I’ve made have been inspired by film stars from the silent era as well as cultural expression of performance like Kabuki and some of the Golden Age actors like Cagney so I don’t know how to say I’ve done something new because those elements are always on my mind
9. Q: Do you like bees?
A: Yes. I would have to say they’re my favorite insect. They make us honey. Bees, and then the firefly. And ants are interesting. Bumble bees are quite adorable. Don't get me started on the praying mantis.
I told David Cronenberg once that the praying mantis was the most ferocious of the insects and he so said no, and I said what is, and he said the dragon fly larvae and he said that the beast in the Alien movies was designed after the dragon fly larvae because it shoots its teeth out and when it attacks.
10. Q: One of your most fascinating performances to me was as Big Daddy in Kick-Ass. When you were crafting that performance, was Adam West the biggest inspiration for your superhero persona, or were there other sources you felt you drew more heavily from?
A: I would give it all to Adam West. I grew up watching him on the 60s Batman show and he is where it begins and where it ends as Big Daddy. I met Adam West once and I said “did you see I was channeling you?” and he said “I saw you TRY to channel me!”
11. Q: Lord of War is one of my favorite examples of “there’s a lot more to this” in cinema. Do you feel like this movie impacted your career significantly?
A: I think Lord of War is the best movie I made pertaining to a political situation and I think that it’s influenced other movies like Wolf of Wallstreet. I think the narrative and voiceover work and the portrayal of a reprehensible gun runner in the light of an attractive charming personality was ahead of its time.
12. Q: Face/Off is one of my favorite action movies. How did you go through the process of learning to portray a different actor? Thanks for all you do!
A: Thank you. Face/Off is my favorite action movie, largely because we had the maestro John Woo to direct. The process was a matter of getting videos of Travolta’s dailies and trying to study it so I could copy his voice and movements. John Travolta conversely did the same with my dailies.
13. Q: Is there a performance of yours you feel gets misunderstood by fans who turn it into a meme or gag?
A: Well, let’s talk about the difference between “meme” and the word “gag.” My understanding is that “meme” represents a symbol of a pop-cultural movement of sorts. A “gag” is somewhere in the realm of a diss and I don’t look at anything anymore as a diss. I see it more as a recognition of some sort of expression.
14. Q: Have you kept in contact with David Lynch?
A: I did call David when we were filming Massive Talent because I had hoped he might play the role of the director I was auditioning for, but it was at the height of the concerns with COVID and he didn’t want to leave the house. The result of David Gordon Green however was pitch-perfect, and I do hope David Gordon Green does more work as a thespian.
15. Q: Hi, did you keep the snakeskin jacket (a symbol of individuality and belief in personal freedom) from Wild at Heart?
A: No, I gave it to Laura Dern. She was such an enormous part of Wild at Heart that I felt it belonged to her. But now I wish I had given it to my son instead. I would've liked him to have it. But it's okay, Laura has it.
16. Q: What's your favorite pasta shape?
A: I once went to an Italian restaurant in San Francisco about 25 years ago with Charlie Sheen because they had square tube pasta and he was very interested in trying square tube pasta and we did and we loved it so much we went back the next day to try it again
17. Q: Who is a director you would like to work with?
A: I would love to work with Christopher Nolan. I would love to work with Ari Aster, I would love to work with Robert Egger. Spike Lee too.
18. Q: What's the movie quote you hate most when strangers holler it at you in public?
A: I don’t have a problem with any of the quotes, I’m glad they remember the movie.
19. Q: Would you ever return to playing Ghost Rider if Marvel asked you to?
A: I would really need to see what they had in mind before answering that.
20. Q: Will there be another National Treasure?
A: No, the priority was to turn it into a TV show so I would say probably not.
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