Jackie Earle Haley and the Phone Call that Changed Everything

Have you seen Watchmen? I thought it was good and Jackie Earle Haley was the best thing about the film. He was fantastic.

In this article from SF Gate, he talks about his career, why he left acting and the phone call that brought him back to the big screen.

On leaving acting: “Basically when I was 30 — I’m 45 now — things had just slowed down. I was at this turning point, and I was faced with this decision to either start all over as an actor, as though I had blown into town, or move on. And I decided to move on.”

On the 2004 phone call that changed everything: “Life was just kind of humming along pretty good. I met a great gal in San Antonio and got married. We’re on our honeymoon in France. And my partner leaves a message saying, “Hey these people in New York are looking for you. They’re doing some sort of movie.” Every now and then, something like that would happen and it never really came to fruition. I said “Just have them send a script and I’ll get to it when I get back.”

Then I get a call from him a day or two later and he says, “Dude, you don’t understand. Steve Zaillian wrote this movie. Sean Penn and Jude Law and Kate Winslet and James Gandolfini and Anthony Hopkins are in it.” I started freaking out. I’m on my honeymoon and I could barely wait to get home.

On his audition tape for “All the King’s Men”: “I just kind of shook off the cobwebs, and got a shooter and an actor friend of mine, and we did the scene (in San Antonio). I remember that night I took it home and showed it to my wife. She was standing there watching it, and by the end of it she looked over at me and her mouth was hanging open. She said “Oh my God, you’re going to get this part.”

On finding out about “Little Children”: “After doing “All the King’s Men,” it put me in a position where I was able to get an agent and a manager. My agent, Warren Zavala over at the Gersh Agency, had a mole somewhere and he got a draft of “Little Children.” It was early — the casting directing literally wasn’t starting for a week — and everyone was clamoring to get the role. I took the script, got an actor buddy and a small crew, and I made this audition tape and shipped it off to (“Little Children” director) Todd Field. He saw the tape, and called me back the next day … He says “Can you come to New York and read with me?”

On the “Little Children” reading with Kate Winslet: “Kate and I are chatting and catching up for about 10 minutes. And every time Todd walked out of the room, she’d look over all excited and whisper “Todd really likes you for this part” … We did the scene, and then there was this brief pause, and then Todd says, “Wow, so do you want to do it?” I cannot tell you what an amazing moment that was. Kate was just as excited as I was. We’re both jumping up and down, hugging each other and crying. That has to be one of the most amazing acting experiences I’ve had.”

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