Sundance: John Krasinski, Viggo Mortensen and 4 Others on Challenging Career Moments

Thomas Middleditch, Diane Ladd, Rebecca Hall and Bryce Dallas Howard also join THR's 'Live from Sundance' actor panel, moderated by executive editor Matthew Belloni.

As Sundance kicked off in Park City on Jan. 21, six Hollywood film stars with projects premiering at the festival — Thomas Middleditch (Joshy), Diane Ladd (Sophie and the Rising Sun), John Krasinski (The Hollars), Rebecca Hall (Christine), Bryce Dallas Howard (Solemates) and Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic) — sat down with THR's executive editor Matthew Belloni to discuss finding the perfect role, the most challenging part of being an actor and what comes next after a performer has his/her breakout moment.

On how he found his next project after ending a successful 10-year run on NBC's The Office, Krasinski shared that his main focus was on finding a script with a "good story."

"Being on The Office was the greatest thing I could have ever imagined," he said. "I've never been a big dramatic or comedy guy. It's always about — where's the good story? The Office was one hell of a story to be a part of for 10 years for sure. After that, I was like, I really want to be a part of good stories rather than just getting work."

Middleditch, best known for his role as Richard Hendricks on HBO's Silicon Valley, jokingly shared that he had a different approach to finding roles. "I think I'm in a different place than everyone here," he quipped. "I'm in a place more like, 'Oh, you'll see me? Cool. Yeah, I'll go for coffee with you. … I'll play the voiceover of the talking boner, why not?' That's kind of where I'm at."

When asked what the most challenging moment of their careers were, Middleditch expressed he had trouble transitioning from comedy to drama, noting that he was unsure and "self-guessing" while shooting all of his dramatic work. Howard revealed that she struggled the most with "keeping things in perspective" and being "honest" with herself.

"What we do, it's an art form — it's a craft. But it's also an industry. Sometimes those two things — I mean, we all know — they don't coexist in a friendly manner all the time," she said, adding that "navigating that balance" was a daily challenge for her.

Hall, on the topic of actor-director relationships, also discussed what it was like working with Woody Allen on the set of 2008's Vicky Cristina Barcelona. "A lot of people have strange stories about him, and I don't. I had a really good time with him," she said. "I like that he trusts the casting process and that he has an instinct about someone and he respects you to do your work and to turn up and know what you're doing."

Mortensen revealed that he had been cast as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy later into the production after a decisive phone call with director Peter Jackson. 

"There was someone else that was already cast, which was a tricky thing. ... They came to a mutual decision after some rehearsal that he was too young for the part, and so they asked me if I wanted to do it. I felt funny about it," he admitted, adding that he hadn't read the book series and felt unequipped to play the part alongside other actors who had been tied to the project for a long time. "[If] you don't really think you're going to be ready, the mature, professional thing to do is say no. But in this case, it was intriguing. In the end, I said yes."

To hear what advice Ladd had for daughter Laura Dern and Mortensen's opinion on indie filmmaking, watch the full discussion, a part of SundanceTV's Close Up with The Hollywood Reporter series, in the video above.

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