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“The recurring theme for me internally is, ‘I was content with what I was doing until something way better just showed up,'” says Paul Walter Hauser, the versatile young actor who has greatly impressed a lot of people over the last three years, as we sit down at the Los Angeles offices of The Hollywood Reporter to record an episode of THR‘s Awards Chatter podcast.
Hauser, 33, first registered for many in 2017 with his supporting turn as Shawn Eckhardt, the goon who planned the assault of figure skater Nancy Kerrigan 25 years ago, in Craig Gillespie‘s I, Tonya; then in 2018 with another supporting turn, this time as an inept KKK member in Spike Lee‘s BlacKkKlansman; and then, in 2019, with his first leading role, as the title character, a hero mistaken for a villain, in Clint Eastwood‘s Richard Jewell, for which he has been chosen as the recipient of the National Board of Review’s best breakthrough performance award, with other accolades possibly still to come.
Continues Hauser, “I thought this would happen, but I didn’t think it would happen now, and I didn’t think I would get to work with a bunch of my heroes. Sam Rockwell is an occupational hero for me, the same way that Phil Hoffman or Peter Sarsgaard or Michael Shannon are.”
LISTEN: You can hear the entire interview below.
Past guests include Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Lorne Michaels, Barbra Streisand, George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence, Eddie Murphy, Gal Gadot, Warren Beatty, Angelina Jolie, Snoop Dogg, Jessica Chastain, Stephen Colbert, Reese Witherspoon, Aaron Sorkin, Margot Robbie, Ryan Reynolds, Nicole Kidman, Denzel Washington, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Matthew McConaughey, Kate Winslet, Jimmy Kimmel, Natalie Portman, Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Gervais, Judi Dench, Quincy Jones, Jane Fonda, Tom Hanks, Amy Schumer, Justin Timberlake, Elisabeth Moss, RuPaul, Rachel Brosnahan, Jimmy Fallon, Kris Jenner, Michael Moore, Emilia Clarke, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Helen Mirren, Tyler Perry, Sally Field, Spike Lee, Lady Gaga, J.J. Abrams, Emma Stone, Al Pacino, Julia Roberts, Jerry Seinfeld, Dolly Parton, Will Smith, Taraji P. Henson, Sacha Baron Cohen, Carol Burnett and Norman Lear.
* * *
Over the course of our conversation, Hauser and I discussed how an interaction with Dustin Lance Black led to Hauser’s first substantial film part, in Black’s 2010 film Virginia, after which the actor moved from Michigan to Hollywood; how his diligent preparation for auditions for I, Tonya and BlacKkKlansman enabled him to stand out to their directors; how, out of the blue, he learned that he might have a chance to star in Eastwood’s film, but had to decide on a tight deadline whether to accept a lucrative offer for a part on a TV limited series or take his chances on the Eastwood possibility; and much more.
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