THR's Actor Roundtable: 6 Leading Men on Politics, Over-40 Actresses and the Dangers of Success
Matt Damon, Jamie Foxx, Denzel Washington, Richard Gere, Alan Arkin and John Hawkes convene for a rare exploration of the current state of the male movie star.
THR: Do you think it's dangerous to have too much success at a young age?
Gere: I don't know because I was 26 when I made Days of Heaven -- 28 when it was released 'cause we went back and shot another movie. I was a kid in regional theaters and off-Broadway, so I was working a lot before that. [To Damon] You were probably younger.
Damon: No. When we started [writing] Good Will Hunting, I was 22 and Ben [Affleck] was 20, and it came out when I was 27 and Ben was 25. I always had this theory that you kind of retard emotionally at the moment you become famous: It's not that you change; the world changes in its relationship to you. So your entire reality shifts. And that's a jarring experience and hard to prepare for.
Gere: You can't prepare. If we all told our stories of getting to where we are, and everyone had the information, still you would not be prepared.
Damon: People stop interacting with you. It's like Jamie was saying: People reacted to him differently when they knew that he was the star of the show.
John Hawkes: Any rise in visibility worries me because if I can't be somewhat invisible in a crowd and observe human behavior, it's harder to be an actor.
Foxx: Sometimes you go on the Internet and see what people are saying about you. Wow, they're saying this crazy shit! One thing that just happened: I had this guy decorate my house -- [to Washington] you've been in my house; it's really, really nice -- but he ended up being one of the biggest drug kingpins on the West Coast, and I had no idea. And I was like, "Oh shit!" And I remember we vetted him because you have to check people out before they come in your house, then find out the feds were watching him for a year. Some of the fed guys were working on the construction, so the shit was always shoddy! That came out in the press, you know what I'm saying? It was something I was going to handle internally, and all these people are talking about it. It's hard to then go into a character when all these people have stories hung on you. I've watched a lot of people become prisoners of Us and OK! magazine, and you can't get that out of your mind. How do you maintain that?
Hawkes: Pick great projects. Things that sing to you.
THR: Denzel, how do you do it? You manage to keep out of the press.
Gere: He's been trying to get in the press for a long while! His wife won't let him.
Washington: That's what having a publicist is for, to keep me out of the press. I'm just raising my family, raising my kids -- got four grown kids now -- and coaching football and basketball. That's what was important to me. Work is work, but fame is -- I don't know what that is.