• A lot of people describe me as chubby, which seems so easy, so first-choice. Or stocky. Fair-skinned. Tow-headed. There are so many other choices. How about dense? I mean, I'm a thick kind of guy. But I'm never described in attractive ways. I'm waiting for somebody to say I'm at least cute. But nobody has.
  • "Being unemployed is not good for any actor, no matter how successful you are. You always remember what it feels like to go to the unemployment office, what it feels like to be fired from all those restaurants".
  • "Not only couldn't I get a job as an actor, I couldn't hold down the temporary non- acting jobs I managed to get. I got fired as a waiter in restaurants and as a lifeguard at a spa" --On his life before films "If I hadn't gotten into Scent of a Woman (1992), I wouldn't be where I am today. It's been a domino effect ever since".
  • Actors are responsible to the people we play. I don't label or judge. I just play them as honestly and expressively and creatively as I can, in the hope that people who ordinarily turn their heads in disgust instead think, 'What I thought I'd feel about that guy, I don't totally feel right now' ". -- On his responsibility as an actor.
  • To have that concentration to act well is like lugging things up staircases in your brain. I think that's a thing people don't understand. It is that exhausting. If you're doing it well, if you're concentrating the way you need to, if your will and your concentration and emotional and imagination and emotional life are all in tune, concentrated and working together in that role, that is just like lugging weights upstairs with your head..And I don't think that should get any easier". -- On acting.
  • "Other people disagree with me, but Scent of a Woman really was my breakthrough. I was working in the prepared foods section of a deli when I was cast in that movie, and I've never had a non-acting job since. That's amazing".
  • Success isn't what makes you happy. It really isn't. Success is doing what makes you happy and doing good work and hopefully having a fruitful life. If I've felt like I've done good work, that makes me happy. The success part of it is all gravy.
  • Sometimes I'm working on a film and someone will ask me if I'm having fun. And I'm tempted to tell them the truth: No, absolutely not. Having no fun here at all. You know what's going to be fun? When it's done, and I've done a fuckin' good job, and I know people are getting something out of that. I'll have a lot of fun then. A ton of it.
  • I'm probably more personal when I'm acting than at any other time. More open, more direct. Because it allows me to be something that I can't always feel comfortable with when I'm living my own life, you know? Because it's make- believe.
  • Acting is so difficult for me that, unless the work is of a certain stature in my mind, unless I reach the expectations I have of myself, I'm unhappy. Then it's a miserable existence. I'm putting a piece of myself out there. If it doesn't do anything, I feel so ashamed. I'm afraid I'll be the kind of actor who thought he would make a difference and didn't. Right now, though, I feel like I made a little bit of difference.
  • Doing a play is good for me because it's a nice change from being on a movie set. I try to do a play every year because it just invigorates me.
  • I think Magnolia (1999) is one of the best films I've ever seen and I can say that straight and out and anybody that disagrees with me I'll fight you to the death. I just think it is one of the greatest films I've ever been in and ever seen.
  • "It was an incredibly honest, unique, specific and personal story of addiction. He lives to feed the beast and it gets him farther away from reality, intimacy and life.To me, it's not even about gambling. It's about a man and how he behaves in this pressurized world he has created for himself. There is no relief for this guy. It's about a man who cuts off his feelings at the same time his girlfriend [Minnie Driver] comes at him harder. Life comes at him harder, too, but he can only think about his addiction." - On his role in Owning Mahowny.
  • It's not by going into 'the business,'. The business can't be a thought. You get a foothold because you want to get a foothold as an artist. Your desire, your intensity, has to be about being a great actor or a great painter or a great musician. If that's strong enough, it'll lead you to good teachers and to places where you'll learn. For me, the business wasn't a thought. I was doing a play, and a friend in the play said, 'My manager is here tonight and she wants to meet you.' And I said, 'Oh.' And that's how I got a manager.
  • [on getting his part in The Big Lebowski (1998)] It's the Coen brothers, and you never think you're going to get to work with people like that. I thought I'd never get the part. So I wanted to do something very weird. I went in and started ranting and raving and they were laughing their asses off. I was petrified but, I figured, at least they laughed a lot.
  • My favorite thing about acting is being alone and going through the scripts and working on it and getting ideas and asking myself questions, looking outside myself for them and researching and getting to the bottom of something and being creative with it as an actor and how to express it in a creative fashion. That's my favorite part. And,the actual acting of it.
  • On my down time I do a lot of nothing. I just kinda read, run and hang out with friends because I haven't had a lot of it lately. I just try to do a lot of nothing. Go to some sports. I like to play tennis. I travel a lot with my work now so if you are travelling all the time you don't want to travel you want to stay home. And when you stay home you really don't want to do too much because you've been going out and getting up early and staying out late all the time. So you just do very little.
  • [on The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)] Playing Freddie Miles was really easy. It was one of those parts you know exactly what you're doing. The character is not beating around the bush at all. His main action is to expose Tom Ripley as a phoney.
  • Sometimes it's hard to say no. Ultimately, if you stick to your guns, you have the career that you want. Don't get me wrong. I love a good payday and I'll do films for fun. But ultimately my main goal is to do good work. If it doesn't pay well, so be it.
  • [his advice to aspiring actors] Study, find all the good teachers and study with them, get involved in acting to act, not to be famous or for the money. Do plays. It's not worth it if you are just in it for the money. You have to love it.
  • The stage can be more satisfying because you spend a lot of time rehearsing, and film is more technical. In the end it just depends on the work and the director. I do like the world of the theater though.
  • Film is a very uncomfortable medium for an actor. It's just not conducive to doing what actors do. The first few days of shooting are like you just getting over the fact that your there. These people and the camera over the shoulder and the light and the boom - you're just going crazy trying to find some kind of center of relaxation and then you can get into a rhythm and it can be very satisfying. If you do good work and it's on film, that's a very satisfying thing. - 2006.
  • Actors are responsible to the people we play.
  • My passion to develop as an actor didn't have anything to do with people knowing me. I had no idea that would happen. To become famous, to become a celebrity is something that I thought happened to other people.
  • [on Capote (2005)] I knew that it would be great, but I still took the role kicking and screaming. Playing Capote took a lot of concentration. I prepared for four and a half months. I read and listened to his voice and watched videos of him on TV. Sometimes being an actor is like being some kind of detective where you're on the search for a secret that will unlock the character. With Capote, the part required me to be a little unbalanced, and that wasn't really good for my mental health. It was also a technically difficult part. Because I was holding my body in a way it doesn't want to be held and because I was speaking in a voice that my vocal cords did not want to do, I had to stay in character all day. Otherwise, I would give my body the chance to bail on me.
  • [on The Master (2012)] L. Ron Hubbard is the reference, but it isn't L. Ron Hubbard. There are things he does that are referenced in Hubbard's life, but ultimately there is no adherence to that fact. We took liberties because he is a fictional character.
  • [on quitting drinking at age 22] I think I would have drank myself to death, literally, if I didn't just stop, once and for all when I did. I am not ever going to preach to anyone about drugs or drinking. But, for me, when they were around, I had no self control.
  • [on going to rehab] I went, I got sober when I was 22 years old. You get panicked and I got panicked for my life.
  • I teach acting sometimes - not a lot, but once in a while - and what I really try to say to them - 'cause I know it's true - is that if you're doing a play or you're shooting a film, the way you feel after a performance that night, or after a day of work, if you've done well, is the best it gets. You don't need anyone to tell you. I always say it's like when you can go home and fall asleep and wake up well-rested. That's as good as it gets, because everything else is fleeting. It's what keeps you going back to work.
  • [on being taken to a production of 'All My Sons' at age twelve] It's a great play, and at the end of the play the father goes off-stage and kills himself. It's a very sappy, corny memory but I remember thinking I had found something that no one knew about. I could just not get over the fact that these people in front of me were getting me to believe something that was not happening. I matured in those two hours, just experiencing that.