No, I don’t think anyone would think that. This role made me think a lot about you, and all your performances in the past. Were you trying to engage that at all?
No. Because the part, for selfish reasons—can you get a better arc than this? Absolutely not.
It’s an incredible story.
Yeah, so there’s that. And when you’re an actor, and a producer, the thing is always about—and we discussed this early on—we started producing out of necessity, right? So when I started to go down this path, it was like, well, what’s going to put the movie first? You put your producing hat on first. It’s not about the individual performance, it’s about the movie as a whole. How would Warren Beatty approach something that he did? He’s the director, he’s the producer, he’s the star. But he’s not going out there and just pushing his performance, he’s pushing the movie as a whole. So that was always the approach anyway, and going back to just producing out of necessity, you know, these roles don’t get hand-delivered to you. And if they do, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so I was always trying to be proactive and say, “OK, if I love boxing movies and I think this is a great boxing movie to make, I don’t think it’s just going to come on my lap, I gotta find it and create it and make it happen.”
So I’ve always done that, because I’m, y’know, getting material after Brad Pitt passes, or somebody else passes. So, why sit and wait around and hope something lands on my desk? I go out there and create my own opportunities.
And when something does land on your desk, how does faith help make you feel a certain way about a project? Or does it?
It doesn’t, really. I don’t let my faith dictate what I do as an artist, or as an actor. I do feel like now that I’m older that maybe I would have been a little more hard-pressed to do a movie like “Boogie Nights,” but I probably would have done it anyway because it was such a challenge, and I always look for a challenge, I look for something that’s unexpected. Something that is gonna help me as an actor. You know, challenge the way people see me, and every time they see me in something different, instead of trying to argue that I belong in the other box, they just put me in that particular box.
And then from there, until I kind of do something else, it’s “Oh, he’s THAT guy!” Which is fine, I can’t control what people think anyway. But I’m constantly trying to change and grow.
So you are thinking about what the box is, as someone with a star image, a high-profile Hollywood actor?
No, I’m just aware that it exists. But I don’t think about it. It’s not what makes me choose the next thing. Like, [in playful voice, rubs his chin], “How can I get out of this predicament of mine?” No, it’s funny because I would say … I equate it more to that I want to do the complete opposite of the last thing I did. So I just did “Father Stu,” that was very, very emotionally draining but also super fulfilling. And then Kevin Hart and I just made this crazy, over-the-top comedy [“Me Time”], and that was a lot of fun. That was what I needed at the time, after making “Father Stu.” So now, I’m chomping at the bit, and we’re gonna do this other thing that I’m really excited about with Halle Berry [“Our Man from Jersey”]. And then I’ve got another biopic, true story that I’m excited about, where I speak another language for more than 50% of the movie, playing this wild and crazy character that people don’t expect, going down the road with Rosalind Ross again.