Speaking of learning things, you’ve spoken in the past about how you watched Heath Ledger slip in and out of character between takes on “The Dark Knight” and how that sort of disabused you of this romanticized idea of actors making things all about them so they can get to this extreme place to deliver a certain type of performance. If you could think back to your experience shooting that movie, I would love for you to tell me if you had any other behind the scenes observations that you noticed while working on that film, if anything else stuck out to you.
For me, the thing that stood out was getting the opportunity to observe one of the great masters of cinema, Christopher Nolan, be able to orchestrate a set with thousands of performers and hundreds if not thousands of crew members and extensive equipment setups under the incredible pressure of having to shoot in a downtown, thriving, operating metropolis like Chicago and make that Gotham City. Seeing him do so with nothing but confidence and clarity and the skill of a great leader and communicator. That just affected me in this deep way, seeing an artist at that level operate in such a manner, and since then, has been the bellwether representation of the captains that I love to embark on journeys with, the people who I will follow into the craziest waters, the most unknown places, the most dark chasms to jump with leaps of faith because somebody just has that kind of discipline and heart for cinema. And I saw it again. I got to see it on the set of his newest film. I can’t wait for people to see.
I’m very excited about that. You told /Film in a previous interview that one of your career aspirations is to play a villain in a Bond movie. I was curious if you’ve ever had the opportunity to actually have any conversations with the folks at Eon about possibly doing that.
It begins right now. So whoever is reading this, take it as a sign. You were meant to be reading this line at this moment as you’re thinking about the future of what you guys are doing with the franchise. Trust me when I say that I can bring something to an enemy of 007, whether he or she or they be played in a way that no one has ever seen Bond brought to life before, which is of course the way that you guys always do it. I think there’s no one to push Bond to the limits of their capabilities the way that I could, and I would love to do it. So there’s my pitch to them. I can’t wait for them to read this. And then I will owe you when or if I ever get that role, I guess 10%.
Fantastic. So a lot of people, including us, have noticed that you have officially sort of become a horror guy in 2023, and “The Last Voyage of the Demeter” is the latest example of that. What do you think about that label?
I love it. I love it. I think genre is such a beautiful and special place for us to explore all the magic that cinema has at its capabilities while wrestling with really intense, big questions, and yet, your audience, because they’re so caught up in the emotional journey of the movie, they’re not even conscious sometimes of the ways in which you can get in and touch people’s hearts and rip out their guts. I think it’s so important to reach hearts and minds through storytelling. And I think we’re at a time in history where bigotry and racism and homophobia and things that are just so hard to wrap our minds around are still permeating the day-to-day lives of so many people. I mean, if anybody thinks that misogyny is a thing of the past, they need to wake up and open their eyes.
We have a lot of people living under a lot of threat. It’s a scary time right now. And with the power of genre, you can wrestle with big ideas and open people’s hearts to the importance of looking out for one another and being there for one another, and why we’re all connected, and how much we need to start getting over our bulls*** and being there for each other. And you could do all that and no one even needs to — you’re not hitting anyone over the head with a mallet of messaging, because it’s just in the nature of these kinds of stories. It reminds us how much we’re all the same. No matter how much you think people may look differently than you or may express themselves differently than you, they deserve the same rights and treatment and love as you. We all do. And in the genre space, we can do that. I will never be an actor who raises their nose or poo-poos the power of genre. Do I love doing independent drama and working with auteur filmmakers in that space, the Michel Francos of the world? Yes, and I love going into that place. And I love making movies like my microbudget indies and off the grid films like “Animals” or “All Creatures Here Below,” or I love period pieces and dramas. I love all forms of storytelling and cinema. But horror and genre, it’s like, man, what a powerful medium. And science fiction, as well.