A short while back I ran across an online article from The Hollywood Reporter. The piece was a snippet (maybe more like a lengthy snippet) of an intriguing Roundtable discussion that involved Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson, and Mark Ruffalo. Talk about a melting pot of personalities!
When you bring together a group of such incredibly talented and dynamic guys like this, you’re pretty much guaranteed that no matter what the topic of discussion is – you’re going to get pure gold. Topics in the article’s wrap included prejudice, saying “No” to Quentin Tarantino, and acting mentors. I really loved what THR did here and I cannot wait to see the whole piece on TV! There’s a few sections I included below but for the full discussion, you’ll want to get the DVR ready for Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter on Sunday, 1/17/16 at 11 AM(ET) on Sundance TV.
Was there ever a point where you fell out of love with acting?
CAINE: Oh no, never.
SMITH: I had a brief period, four years ago. In retrospect, I realize I had hit a ceiling in my talent. I had a great run that I thought was fantastic, and I realized that I had done everything that I could do with the “me” that I had. And I didn’t work for about two years, and I [went through] marriage counseling, 50 parenting books, all of that stuff. And I really dived into me, and then all of a sudden it was like, “Oh!” And I found the connection. Your work can never really be better than you are, you know? Your work can’t be deeper than you are.
JACKSON: You know what you needed for that?
SMITH: What did I need?
JACKSON: A play.
SMITH: I’ve always been really product-oriented. I want to win. When I do something, I want to be number one, and I want to smash it. And I have a 15-year-old daughter, and she got me and shifted my focus from product to people. It took a couple of years, but as soon as I got knocked off of product and started shifting to people, the whole world opened up for me again, and acting opened up in a whole new way — to not go into day one of a movie trying to figure out what everybody has to do so we win versus opening up and every person is a whole new world. [Before that,] when I went into a meeting with a director, my focus was: Can this guy win, can this girl win? And it was a pathology that broke for me a couple of years ago, and I fell in love and then I couldn’t imagine what else I could do that could add so much to my life other than acting.
JACKSON: I’m constantly evolving. I’ve grown as an actor. I’m getting older, I’m a little less patient with people. I speak my mind a lot more than I used to ’cause I used to think I’d get fired, and now I know I’m not.
Have you turned down roles because they conveyed a message you didn’t believe in?
CAINE: I did. When I first came to America, I was at Universal, and my bungalow was next to Alfred Hitchcock’s, and he offered me a part in a movie [Frenzy] to play a sadistic woman killer, which was a real story in England — this man slaughtered 13 women and cut them up — and he wanted me to play it, and I refused. And he never spoke to me again.