Justin Theroux on Past Career Mistakes: One Show Made Me Want to "Hang Myself"

"I've rued many days on set where I've been like, 'Why did I say yes to this?' I made a lot of mistakes as a younger actor, signing up for plays I'm stuck doing for six months. I've been in many sad situations."

The Leftovers star Justin Theroux confessed to making some mistakes as a younger actor, such as signing on to long projects he wasn't passionate about.

"I've definitely made mistakes when people say, 'You should do this,' or 'This is a great director. I know the part's not what you want but you should do that,'" Theroux said during The Hollywood Reporter's TV Drama Actor Roundtable. "I've rued many days on set where I've been like, 'Why did I say yes to this?' I made a lot of mistakes as a younger actor, signing up for plays I'm stuck doing for six months. I've been in many sad situations. That cop procedural [made me want to] hang myself. My character said shit like, 'Chief, you're going to want to hear this!' You go, 'Oh, I can't.'"

Now an industry vet with numerous acting and writing credits, Theroux discussed how he has come to trust his own intuition while making decisions about his career, saying, "It's a gut thing for me."

"[A] 10- or 12-episode format, … there's something that feels manageable about that," said Theroux, compared to a 24-episode season. "You're starting to cycle through your bag of tricks so much that you start to fall into bad habits."

The actor said his HBO drama is "essentially a sci-fi piece, but with very little sci." Filmed with an intended "veritas" style, the minds behind The Leftovers are meticulous about creating a very real atmosphere. "The concept is so, sort of insane. … It had to be as rooted as possible." That goes for the material too, he said. "When we're looking through things that are attractive to us, we're safeguarding ourselves with fantastic showrunners, and fantastic writers as well."

The actor sat down with Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), David Oyelowo (Nightingale), Jon Voight (Ray Donovan), Timothy Hutton (American Crime) and Clive Owen (The Knick) for the roundtable, where some the year's hottest television actors discussed their current roles and dramatic process.

The full Drama Actor Roundtable aired on Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter on Sunday, Aug. 9, at 11 a.m. EST on Sundance TV. Tune in this Sunday for the next episode.

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