Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julian Rick, Robert Benton discussed on Design Matters with Debbie Millman


That film experience taught me a lot. You know, Rick and Julia are very, some of the most intelligent people I've ever come across and they're also extremely educated in the language of film. They have an extremely high bar and they know a lot. And it was fun to be around them and listen to Julian Rick argue. I've learned a lot. It felt like, wow, this is where I'm supposed to be right now. Like, I got to be in Paris, making a movie with Julie delpy, and it was a good one. And that, I mean, what else do you want in life? I read that when you worked with Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2006, you realized that what made him so great was his experience playing smaller parts. And during the years that he was doing that, you said that you were doing films like white fang and getting paid a lot of money and girls were asking for your autograph. And while working with him, you realized you needed to work harder. And I was wondering, harder in what way? I watched nobody's fool the other day. Paul Newman movie Robert Benton directed really wonderful film and Philip Seymour Hoffman plays like this small town deputy or something. It's just kind of an idiot little part, but oh, he probably has ten lines in the movie. And I was friends with him back then. He works so hard on that part. Who was that guy? What is the opposite pockets? How did he get the job? Why does he do this dumb thing? What's his thing? He was rigorous with his imagination. And you know, I watched the movie and serious later and he's just so wonderful in it. And so when he started getting bigger parts, he applied the same rigor to every line. He had. And I had kind of a, you know, let's get through this scene. I'm really looking forward to that scene. We're going to shoot on Thursday attitude. You know? And I started seeing the possibilities of there's a difference between the job of leading man and the job of a character actor. And fascinatingly enough, the job of the character actor is extremely challenging because you have to facilitate the story. You've got a job to do, and that's your only, then you get laser focused about it. And then when you come back to a larger part, you see, oh, smaller stitches in the fabric. You know, you see how to sew it tighter. You see how to help your seam partner. And that's really the change for me. Despite the lesson you learned from Philip Seymour Hoffman about working harder, you've also come to recognize that every time you tried to sell out, you fell on your ass, your words, not mine. I like these quotes you're finding. I suspect that you're talking about your first foray into television, which I want to talk about briefly before going into good lord bird. The Fox show exit strategy. What happened with that show? That was my mid life crisis, you know? That was like a turn 40 and I felt like I had to quit being an artist and get a real job and hate it like everyone else. Why? Was it because of having so many children? Was it? My wife was pregnant with my fourth kid and the economy it just dropped out in 2008 and I'd spent a lot of the previous years falling back in love with the theater. You know that thing you asked me about Phil and smaller parts, you know, I got really interested in that and I started doing smaller parts and some big Broadway you know I did the bridge project, which we took Chekhov and Shakespeare all over the world. I did coast of utopia, which ran for a year. It's a 9 hour play about Russian radicals and hurly burly. I'd done for almost a year and they're all big ensemble pieces. I mean, some of those parts are big, some of them were small. And while I was doing that, I was living like I was making a $1 million a year making movies. And I was having a lot of children. And you know, you asked me, you know, when I was a kid, I was very, very fortunate. You know, Deadpool society, I had this money. I just I got to do what I wanted to do. And all of a sudden I couldn't do what I wanted to do. I wasn't getting cast. Younger actors were getting more parts and you start kind of seeing the world. And I just panicked. You know, and I love Antoine fuqua and we had this idea or maybe we can we can make a great cop show, you know, what if we did? Well, and I started bending my mind too well with Antoine would do it. Maybe we could make this badass cop show and sneak one through and I don't mean to knock that show or whatever, but they didn't really let Antoine do what he wanted to do. The show never turned into the show that we had imagined it would be and thank God it didn't happen. You said that it ultimately resulted in your rebooting and revitalizing the next ten years of your life. How? I just started doing things I care. You know, I have an amazing wife. And she's an amazing partner. And she's not a materialist. She's like, don't do that. What are we making the money for? She sees very clearly the kind of capitalist design that this country gets motivated on the accumulation of wealth, the accumulation of possessions. That's how we define success. And we all just kind of get on this treadmill and hate ourselves if we have to get off it and feel like we failed if we don't have the school that we want or the house that we want and she just wasn't buying into it and she's like, let's start making decisions based on love. Let's tap, that's what you need to do. And I started doing things I cared about. And then my career started going well again. You know, it's mysterious how that happens. It's so interesting the arc of a career. You've said that there have been three times over the course of your career that you felt washed up. Yeah, it's a completely. What made you continue on? And how did you overcome that sense of being sort of over and done with or discarded? How did you find the way to reinvent yourself? The world is not a very responsible critic. I don't know what they're talking about. You know, lots of things that aren't very good make people tremendous money and lots of things are staggeringly brilliant going noticed. I mean, through the history of the world and the history of arts, if you are in service of your art, then everything's easy. And if you want the art to be in service of you, promoting you, if everything you do has to be successful, everything you do has to be quote unquote good. And then you're always waiting for everybody's reaction as supposed to really just engaging with what you want to communicate. What do you want to be doing? And you know, there's so many churches in New York with basements where you can do a play. And you know, there's something that really moved me. I read this obituary of brilliant actor Paul schofield. Late in his life, he was acting acting in a very high level, playing big parts, but only at the church near him. And he realized that it doesn't matter how many people see it. It matters what you do. And I want to walk to work and I'm going to play king Lear at my church. Everything gets washed away like a sand castle anyway. Who do you want to be? What do you want to do with your time? One of the things that I do want.

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