I was always in love with movies. They were stories that came alive, took over and let me be entertained, escape and learn in a way I didn't have words for. I performed in my first play in eighth grade, 1984 , a particularly chilling and odd choice for a yeshiva, and was instantly introduced both to the thrill of acting and the pain of rejection -- I got beat out for my preferred role by a friend. But I knew right then there was nothing more exhilarating and nothing else I'd rather do.
The "why" was elusive and varied- the puzzle of recreating real life was a thrilling challenge, trying on new identities and circumstances I'd never been exposed to while figuring out what makes us tick set me on fire and, finally, being a part of those thrilling stories I'd been mesmerized by. Being able to do that for someone else was a pleasure that's hard to describe.
It used to be the great talents, Meryl Streep and Robert Duvall, who impressed me most. But I find myself more moved these days by stories of great effort -- Vin Diesel buying a typewriter and cranking out an entire screenplay in a month so he could return it since he couldn't afford it. Or Matt Damon and Ben Affleck getting Good Will Hunting made. Those are herculean examples of commitment.
I'm drawn to stories of justice and redemption, as well as big battles of black and white that must resolve into grey. Also, anything Aaron Sorkin will ever write. I just want to say all the things he says. And a beautifully choreographed fight scene gets me every time.
On film, I tend to play dads and coaches, as well as hard edged lawyers and corporate sharks. On stage, well, I tend to play very violent men. I still haven't figured out why. I'm really a nice guy. Mostly.
When I'm not doing this or spending time with my wife and super-awesome kid, I'm helping folks learn to talk to each other more effectively (and respectfully), teaching workshops on making sushi, or trying to surprise myself. I just spoke to a Barnard University class on the ethics of eating meat. I took aerial silks for 2 years. We'll see what's next.