Six contenders — also including Mahershala Ali, Andrew Garfield, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Dev Patel — on what it takes to play a real-life person, making a drug dealer likable, turning down parts and the agony of acting: “The very thing you love is the thing you hate.”
Halfway through this year’s Actor Roundtable, just as THR’s group was settling in with one another, Casey Affleck paused to look at Jeff Bridges with something bordering on awe. “Jeff,” he said, “not to draw attention to your age or anything, but I just want to point out that when I was born in 1975, you had already worked with Peter Bogdanovich, John Huston and Robert Benton.”
“Yeah,” Bridges shrugged.
“So you were bushed before I was born, man,” said Affleck.
That gives some idea of the warmth that flowed among the group, one of THR’s younger-skewing actor gatherings, with Bridges, 67 (Hell or High Water), playing patriarch to Affleck, 41 (Manchester by the Sea); Mahershala Ali, 42 (Moonlight); Andrew Garfield, 33 (Hacksaw Ridge, Silence); Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 35 (Snowden); and Dev Patel, 26 (Lion).
Many confessed to being nervous, especially beside the elder statesman. But Bridges surprised them at the Nov. 12 shoot in Hollywood by admitting he was jittery, too — and that after all these years, he still feels fear when he takes on a role.
What do you most like about acting and what do you like the least?
Andrew Garfield: I just like knowing everything I can. I love the fact that I get to train for a year as a Jesuit priest and then train to be a cop and learn how to make a rocking chair. I want to know everything about everything, and that’s not possible and it won’t be possible. I’m not ever going to reach it. Neil Young has a recurring dream where he has the perfect melody — and he wakes up every time and can’t remember it. And that’s what it is for me. There’s something to aspire to always, there’s somewhere further to go. And the thing that I hate about acting is — well, everything I just said. (Laughter.) The longing is so f—ing painful sometimes.