You began acting in high school, but I’m guessing you never appeared in any musicals — ^ I only appeared in musicals in high school, Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story…
What drew you to acting when you first started? ^ As a kid it was just something that I really liked. You know, you never really know what it is about it, but I guess I like being in front of an audience and getting that instant reaction.
As a character actor, your performances always seem to stand out. Is there one character that you’ve played that is the closest to the real you? Do you have a favorite? ^ The character I played in “Parting Glances” I think is still one of my favorite roles. That’s the film where I played a rock musician who has AIDS. The character is very funny and intelligent. I think he’s the character that I’d most want to be like.
You’ve played some really frightening characters, do you find when people meet you that they’re afraid of you? ^ It depends on what they’ve seen. I’ve only heard of one person that actually was afraid to meet me. It was on the set of “Homicide,” and one of the actor’s wives didn’t want to meet me after seeing “Con Air.”
You have a young son, and I can’t think of a single movie of yours he’d be old enough to watch, have you ever thought about making a children’s movie? ^ Well, he saw Big Daddy, and I took him to see “In the Soup.” Right now I’m doing voice-over work, or character work in the next Pixar film, “Monsters Incorporated.”
What made you want to go from being one of the world’s most accomplished character actors to a director? ^ Well it’s what I used to do in theater, which was to create my own work. Back then I was working a lot, and Mark Boone, who was in Animal Factory and “Trees Lounge” — we used to write and perform our own material, produce and direct it. And I really missed having that creative input and that creative control. I think that’s where it mainly comes from. Also just having new challenges, with directing I think you use a new part of your brain.
Did playing a director in Tom DiCillo’s “Living in Oblivion” give you any insight as to what it’s like to sit in that chair? ^ Oh, I had already directed a short film, “What Happened to Pete?” before I made “Living in Oblivion,” so I had my own experiences to draw on.
Read more of the interview in AN ACTOR’S DIRECTOR: STEVE BUSCEMI (part 3)>>>