Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Jay A. Fernandez
December 6, 2012 5:05 PM
2 Comments
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Honor Roll 2012: Matthew McConaughey Wants a Viagra Study, Has an 18 Handicap and Thinks You've Got to "Enjoy the Architecture"

Is this a promising time for the legalization of marijuana? Seems like Election Day was pretty good.

Oh, in Washington and Colorado?

Yeah! I know you’re paying attention to that.

I paid attention more to politics this year than I have in any other year. That particular law passing doesn’t really affect me one way or the other. I’m more interested in what the actual outcome, socially, will be. I’m interested to look at it as an example. I’m interested to look at crime rates in those states in ten years. I’m interested to see what the economy is like, and how small moments like this can affect in a positive or a negative way, because I don’t know the answer. What does it do? Does it make any difference to the cartel dealer on the street? I don’t know. From what I’m reading now, it will not — but I’d like to see. It’s probably not going to be near as big of a change. But, for example: I’m interested in a study saying, “Well, since Viagra came out, did divorce rates go down or did they go up?”

"Killer Joe" Lionsgate
Would a Spirit or a Gotham Award, a Golden Globe, mean something to you?

Sure it would, absolutely. For one thing, any time you’re recognized for some work you did, you’d be foolish not to embrace that, appreciate that, and also look into the reality of why. In whatever adulation you get, there’s truth and there’s not truth. And wherever they dog you, and they say it was horrible — there’s truth and there’s not truth. It’s human nature to like to read the adulation more. So to decipher through that, I really like to, in my own life and in my work daily, dissect what is consistent that I was doing that translated, that it felt right to me and it obviously translated. Sometimes the answer is: You just got lucky. Sometimes the answer is: Hey, no, it wasn’t luck because I did this better or different, or I had this attitude. Something in my work, the preparation I did different, I need to learn that and carry that over.

Now, the arts and awards: it’s not near as objective as sports. A 100-yard dash, a basketball game, golf: all of those have very clear finish lines for who gets first. The fastest score wins the race, the lowest score wins the golf game, the highest score wins the basketball game. So if you’re going to sit there and judge and have a competition, and give awards for art, it’s not as objective, it’s not as clear. But I do wholly believe that it is true that, yes, there is a gauge of what qualifies or not, what is better art than something else. Now, I think the job is to whittle it down to, what’s the group that all of this stuff is excellent one way or another? And the stuff that’s not in here, we don’t deem as excellent as what is in here that we’re judging. And then, when you pick out of those what you deem a winner, then you could argue, “Oh, but I thought that other one was better!” But yes, there is a gauge, and there should be. And they get picked because they’re better quality, or captured a piece of humanity better, or had a more original take on a subject that has been told before and was told in a different way. If you can’t sit there and judge and have an opinion on that, well, then, what are we doing? Why do you do what you do instead of something else? Because you’re trying to be great at it.

It’s been 20 years since you showed up as Wooderson in “Dazed and Confused”—

Now, Wooderson is happy about Washington and Colorado. [laughs]

Exactly. Do you have any words of wisdom, 20 years on, for anyone just starting out his career as an actor?

Yeah. “The guards at the gate are not there to keep you in, they’re there to keep you out.” That was told to me by Joel Schumacher, which is a very good take on what to expect from Hollywood. Another thing would be — and this is the most simple one — someone wants to be an actor, you want to be a writer, don’t act like one.

What do you mean by that?

What I mean by that is, you come in and go, like, “I’m trying to be…” No, no, no, you’re already on the outskirts. You’re already receding. Unh-uh. It’s not a business that you get invited into, and someone goes, “I don’t know if you can do this or not, but maybe you should try it.” No. You’ve got to start being one — right then. There’s no Help Wanted sign. Don’t act like one, be one. You want to be a writer? Start writing. You want to be a filmmaker? Start shooting stuff on your phone right now. The other thing is this: It doesn’t come quick, so you have to stick to the process. If you can love it and be good at it, work on the process. Fuck the result. I didn’t know that all the time. I’ve learned that here in the later years. You have to love the process. You go bust your butt, and you worked for two years on a film and you give it all your blood, sweat and tears, and it comes out and goes straight to DVD and it’s gone. And you’re crushed. That’s legitimate pain, legitimate disgust, but — enjoy that daily process: the architecture of the creation. Enjoy the architecture.

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2 Comments

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