How did you get the idea that movies are the means for your self-realization?
Movies have always been a window to the world for me. As a teenager, I had seen almost nothing of the world save for a bit of the US. Movies showed me different cultures and lifestyles. They were my big love. Still, I never planned on becoming an actor. Where I come from – I’m from Missouri – that wasn’t a career option. Just before college, I realized that a normal job wasn’t for me. I wasn’t ready. And so I thought, why not follow your passion and try to make movies? I broke off my education two weeks before graduation, earned a bit of money so I could afford a trip to California – and drove off.
And you were immediately happy?
It took a while. In the beginning, I didn’t even get appointments for auditions. But at some point, I got my first opportunities and I did everything I could to use them. It took me about ten years to understand what I really wanted. They tried to push me into television, but I remained true to my passion. And that was the movies. The stories told in the cinema – that’s what I wanted. And that remained my goal.
It isn’t easy staying true to one’s principles, is it?
Being a father helped me. I’m very aware that my kids are going to see my films one day. And I think of how movies affected me when I was a kid and the ones that left an indelible mark. I’m more clear about what I want to do. I’m more passionate now.
You said things weren’t so easy in your earlier career. Why?
I was really discombobulated at that time. I just wasn’t prepared for everything that goes with the job. I wanted to be a part of movies and make big movies, but I wasn’t prepared for the intense focus. I really lost my bearings a little bit. There were interviews where I was so nervous the director had to hold my hand to get me through them.