Sure you do!
Thanks to Script Collector
Was this role something you lobbied for, or were you offered the part?
I was offered the role by the director John Hillcoat, and I had long been a fan of Cormac McCarthy’s writing. I had not read ‘The Road.’ I had read everything up until then. I had always loved in particular his prose description of landscape and the inner thoughts and emotional kind of lives of his characters. The way he describes things — his prose feels like poetry. There are so many gems in that, and all his books — even books that are just barbaric like ‘Blood Meridian,’ which may be my favorite one. I mean it’s different; it’s like two sides of the same coin.
Was there any hesitation at all in accepting it?
Yeah, there was. First of all, just because I was shooting a movie at the time and promoting another one, you know. I’m leaving for days off, I was kind of stretched pretty thin. But when I read the story, I thought, well, being kind of tired, that’s not wrong for the character [laughs]. But no, it was mainly just because I would regret not taking on the challenge. But once I said “Yes, thank you very much,” then I was terrified. Not because of the physical ordeal, but more because it just has to be done right. And the director said we’re going to shoot in real locations, and I said, “Great, it will be hard, but it needs to be to feel gritty, not to just be another post-apocalyptic special effects movie.” And he goes, “Well, we don’t have that kind of budget anyways, so that’s great. It will be good, it will be gritty and real and has a chance to match the book for emotion.” But then as soon as you say yes, then it’s like, “Well, they all think that I can do it; they wouldn’t offer me the role if they didn’t. [But] I don’t know that I can do it.” You have to come to grips with that. It took me a while because I’m very dependent on the person I play the story with. Every single scene pretty much I’m with this boy. And I said to John, “I am worried — I don’t know about you — about the boy.” And he goes, “Yeah, I’m really worried.” He said, “We can only go so far in matching the book as far as the look of it, the design, the locations.” Even if I do my very, very best and everybody gets lucky each day and does a great job. If the boy isn’t close to being a genius actor and really understands this story and is mature beyond his years somehow — if you don’t find that kind of boy, we’re limited, we can only reach a certain level as far as matching the intensity of the book. But they did find him. [Kodi] is so good and he is such a beautiful person, and I became very fond of him — and he of me I think. That connection, that strong connection we made even before shooting started, only got intensified, became more intense as a result of the difficult emotional things we had to do in the first week or so. It was just, OK, we can do anything. Once I got to know him and realized that, I thought, OK, we’ve got a chance now. But then you never know how they are going to put the movie together.
On his role in The Road:
“To be honest, I was afraid of the role to start with. I thought, ‘Hmm, I don’t know if I am up to the task.’ But, that was the very reason I thought I should do it, try it. Because even if you screw up up, at least trying something different, something that places demands on you that you haven’t dealt with as much or before, it’s always good. Even if you screw it up, in trying to do a good job, you are going to learn something, and I did.”
How his co-star helped him:
“It’s a team sport, making movies. In this case, it’s a story about a father and son. If the son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) wasn’t a great actor and didn’t have a great emotional range, I wouldn’t have done a very good job, to be honest with you. I could have only gone so far. But, because he was so beautiful as a boy, such a wonderful person, but also such a talented actor, he helped me get to places that I didn’t think I could get to.”