I started acting when I was 5 years old. And I was pretty well known for a while. Your self-esteem and your identity start to become wrapped up in that celebrity, and when that starts to fade away, your self-esteem and your identity start to fade away with it. Those roles that I played and the success that I had, that is not who I am. It's part of who I am, but it's not everything. So when it drifts away and you start to feel increasingly insecure, it's kind of a long battle out of that.
That transition from child to adult actor is so incredibly elusive. The roles that were coming to me as a young adult were not that great, but I was taking them anyway to pay the rent. And the more bad roles in bad movies I took, the less anybody wanted me for a good role in a good movie.
I'm an actor. Not at the exclusion of other things -- I'm also director or a limousine driver, if need be. But nothing is as thrilling to me as doing an actor's work.
I'd always avoided stuff like "Where are they now?" or "Whatever happened to?". Just "No thanks, thanks for calling." You tell me, have you ever seen a "Whatever happened to" where they seemed anything but pathetic? I could do that or just disappear.
After tossing and turning all night my wife came running in... she was just screaming and crying and said, "You got it!". (His reaction to his Oscar-nomination for "Little Children")
When you are young, your identity is connected to your celebrity. When it starts to decline, your self-worth goes with it.
[on his Oscar nomination] There are no words to describe how amazing, how surreal, how unbelievable this is. It's kind of like being 5 years old and you come down to the Christmas tree and just the most incredible gifts ever are under there. And the elation and the excitement of those gifts being there and the elation and excitement of getting to play with them for a while. For me, and where I've been and what I've experienced, it's all the more sweet. There is a sense of validation. There were periods of time where I started to think, "It's been a while, should I try to get back into movies?". But it was so daunting and seemed so overwhelming, like to even get out and really even try to stir it up seemed like such an uphill battle that I never did anything. It just seemed impossible. So now, this is kind of the most amazing scenario in my life.
[Getting back into acting after so many years away] I was starting to reach this pretty cool place in life where I was emotionally the most accepting of where life had taken me, and financially, finally, not behind the eight ball -- far from rich, but at least not late on stuff. I met this beautiful lady who is an awesome life partner, and we're on our honeymoon in France, and life is good. And out of the clear blue, Steve Zaillian [the director] calls and he wants me to audition for this part in "All the King's Men". When I got back from the honeymoon, I got a shooter and an actor and a sound guy and we did this audition tape and sent it off to Steve. It had been a long time since I did this. But there was this feeling inside. Over the years, people had called about a movie here, a TV show there, and it never really panned out. There was something about this; it felt different and, I don't know why, but it kind of felt like, "Hmm, this could actually happen." The way this whole thing went down, it almost seems like kismet, karma, divine whatever. It felt like this was supposed to happen.
[on his life after quitting acting] When I made the decision it was time to leave acting, it seemed directing was the way to go. But it probably took me a good eight years, or 10, until I could get to where I was finally making a living at it. In the interim, I was just working -- driving a limousine and delivering pizzas. I was a security officer for a while. I was a furniture refinisher for a while -- hated it. I just didn't have the arms for it. I also hooked up with this videographer and started to crew for him. I would run sound, I learned how to grip. I even learned how to be a cameraman, all the time trying to get my own corporate video thing going. Over time, I started to infiltrate the corporate world. At one point, I became vice president of marketing for a company in Las Vegas. From there, I ended up moving to San Antonio and getting into all sorts of branding commercials.