What was the hardest scene to shoot?
Technically, there was one scene where I had a monologue that I needed to get through while we’re walking this block. It’s my character talking to Ben’s about the do’s and don’ts, of notifying, you know, you don’t want to ring the doorbell, it’s too jarring, you don’t want to park out in front. Oren usually gave us certain parameters to work with, but this, we had to be walking at a clip and it’d be weird to slow down. And I remember being annoyed with myself because I’m not a fast-talking guy. I’m from Texas, and I had to increase the pace of this thing to make it happen, get it done without any pauses. But it turned out good!
How did you and Oren and Ben work together?
Oren is, to me, one of the great directors we have. There’s this review by Peter Travers [of Rolling Stone]that I don’t think has come out yet [doesn’t appear to be online yet] that starts off saying, If you’re looking for that new crop of great directors, look no further than Oren Moverman. I think he’s a true genius director, the way it’s shot, directed, put together.
Did you ever give him advice?
[Laughs] I never stop dispensing advice! I always have an opinion about everything, in every scene, whether or not it’s right.
Did he ever tell you to just shut up and take his direction?
He was very into the creative soup. But I want to say also that Ben Foster — I think this might be his first full-on movie. He’s kind of known but hasn’t popped into wide consciousness in our culture. This performance is one of the most staggeringly beautiful, eloquent performances that I’ve seen in a long time.
So how was it working with him?
It was like working with a young Brando or a young Jimmy Dean, just the intensity. It’s a brave performance, and I’m fucking psyched to be part of this movie.
What was the set like for The Messenger? Any hijinks? Did you and Ben prank each other?
It was shot in Jersey. Not much pranking going on. We were both pretty focused. I’d say in terms of the movies I’ve done, this had the least amount of hijinks going on. But it was a great experience, really intense.
So it was a serious set to match the work?
Serious but, to me, still fun. To me, it’s fun when you’re looking at a scene and trying to figure out the best way of, what can make this scene better, what can heighten the emotionality of the scene. To me, that’s really fun, though it wasn’t laugh-a-minute type of fun.