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: One of your daughters is working for Quentin Tarantino on Jamie's film. Would you all encourage your kids to go into the business?
Washington: They're all movie buffs. I'm the only one in the family that doesn't really watch movies. (Laughter.) Really. I've never been much of a movie person. But they all watch hundreds and hundreds of movies. One daughter's an actress now, and she just did a part with Jamie in a Lee Daniels movie. And my other daughter works for Quentin. And my son went to USC film school this summer.
Damon: I would try to steer my daughters away from acting. Women are in a different business than we are. It is just brutal for women. For us, the roles get really good at 40 and beyond. And that's really when you start doing your best work.
Gere: And then there's Susan Sarandon.
Damon: It's like being a pro athlete: I have friends who were athletes and are now retired. They're my age, and they talk about the frustration of knowing more about their craft and suddenly they're not able to play anymore. Even if the studios aren't banging my door down, I can go write. I'd write if I didn't act.
Arkin: I would write or take pictures or learn how to play a musical instrument.
THR: Do you worry about your career?
Damon: Always. I mean, every single one of us started out getting rejected repeatedly, and I don't think that ever leaves you. I took a lot of jobs earlier on; had I taken my foot off the gas a little bit, I could have been better. I just didn't want to stop working, partly out of that classic actor insecurity.
Washington: I love the stage. In the last 10 years, I've gone back to Broadway twice now. I'm going back next year.
Damon: What are you doing?
Washington: Don't know yet. I did Fences two years ago and Julius Caesar. And I also direct movies. So I don't feel nervous. I'd go off-Broadway in a minute, and fortunately I'm independently wealthy.
Gere: Really? (Laughter.) We should talk, man.
Washington: I mean, I got enough money is what I'm saying. I got a couple of dollars!
Foxx: Some movie you didn't like, you told me, "I didn't really like that movie, but I made $40 million!"
THR: Jamie, I heard you passed Denzel a note once?
Foxx: Before [getting famous], I saw Denzel coming out of the Roxbury one night. I couldn't get on the property. "Oh shit, Denzel!" [Raises his arms and starts to stomp in glee.] You know black people -- we march when we see somebody. It was like: "Denzel! What's up?" And I bolt past the security, and [to Washington] you do this move. I swear to God, I went to hug him, and he goes [stands and thrusts out his elbow, imitating Washington blocking him]. I said, "I'm just trying to give you your props, baby!"
Damon: He's had to bust out the elbow many, many times.
Foxx: [Another time] I was the house comedian at this awards show. I got paid a couple hundred bucks. And I just kept looking at Denzel, and he was sitting in the front row. I was like, man, I gotta holler at him because at the time there was this big search for the next James Bond. And I said, if anybody could do it, it would be Denzel. He could take James Bond, whether he's black, white, green or red -- and this goes back to talent. All these guys, it's the talent that's going to keep us preserved. But I snuck up to him …
Washington: Did I get you in the throat again?
Foxx: I stood away, man. I snuck this letter in his pocket, saying: "They're looking for the new James Bond. You could do it." It goes back to talent. Everybody in this city wants that.