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The Hollywood Reporter's Actors Roundtable: The Trials and Tribulations of Acting

By Ramzi De Coster | Indiewire October 31, 2013 at 3:39PM

The Hollywood Reporter kicked off its annual awards season Actors Roundtable with Matthew McConaughey, Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, Josh Brolin and Michael B. Jordan.
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JOSH BROLIN: "Before [the past] seven or eight years, for 20 years I worked with a lot of people with not a massive amount of talent. And there was always ego; there were always fights. Working with the Coens -- just kicking back on a couch and watching them edit -- they have two desks that are perpendicular, and Ethan is picking the best takes, and then Joel is on the other desk, and then Ethan hits a bell -- bing! -- and Joel looks up, and he brings down the take and puts it in. I mean, it's such a simple, amazing process to watch."

On the "Year of the Black Actor in Film":

Michael B. Jordan
Michael B. Jordan

MICHAEL B. JORDAN: "I feel like -- it's good to be part of that movement."

FORREST WHITAKER: "I've been fortunate, I guess: I've gotten to play a lot of very diverse roles for quite a long time. But in the beginning, I was thinking: "I'm not gonna do certain characters. I will be willing to say no and live on a couch." And I was really happy. Maybe more happy sometimes than in the latter years when I had more, when I was thinking and considering more things for different reasons -- for family, for my home. But luckily I was able to at least maintain some sort of a line. Even if I would veer right or left, I would stay pretty close to center, and the roles were really interesting."

On Balancing Your Personal and Professional Life: 

JOSH BROLIN: I wasn't working a lot when my kids were growing up, so I got to spend a lot of time at home. And my kids are 20 and 25 now, so I get to go work and don't have to worry about them.

MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY: Fortunately, mine come with me. My wife and I made a deal, and it scared me more than it scared her in the beginning. She was like, "OK, here's the deal: When Papa goes to work, the McConaugheys come with him." I was used to my Airstream trailer, solo, staying by myself, and I went, "Are you kidding me?" [But that is] a huge privilege.

JAKE GYLLENHAAL: My family has been in the movie business -- my weirdly extended and immediate family. The movies are such a big part of our interactions. It makes me anxious being around a table here because this particular scenario just makes me feel like the dinner table. [Laughs.]

FORREST WHITAKER: That's tough for me, being away, because my kids are teenagers, and they can't be transported all over the place. You try to balance it. It's more like a dance I have to play.

On the Biggest Sacrifices: 

MICHAEL B. JORDAN: The family, for sure. When I was 19, I left Jersey and moved out here to L.A. to pursue acting. And one of my only regrets was not realizing how that affected my little brother. [There's] a six-year difference between us, and when I'm 19, he's 13, and that's the age that he really needs his older brother. And I was selfishly trying to pursue the acting thing on the other side of the country. [He was] growing up in the shadow of his older brother -- not being his own person in a way -- [with] everybody looking at him: "Oh, that's Mike's little brother." I guess you just have to accept it.

JAKE GYLLENHAAL: What (Michael B. Jordan) said, which is really true, is there is just a selfish nature. I think there has to be that kind of indulgence. The business can create a real selfishness.

On the Strangest Auditions: 

JOSH BROLIN: I did an audition for [1989's] The Fly 2. I was living in New York at the time, and I went in there, and he's in a cocoon, transforming into a fly. So I walked in, and I started reading. You do the voice, and you're like, [choking sounds] you know, doing your thing. And I ended up on the floor, frothing at the mouth. I got back to my apartment, and there was already a message on my machine from my agent that said: "What the f--- did you do in there? You scared them." I said, "Well, did I get it?" That was the worst audition I ever did.

FORREST WHITAKER: I fell through a stage once. I was doing a truly African dance, and all of a sudden I hit the ground with my foot and went straight through the stage. I guess they didn't have much money, so the floor was kind of rotting.

MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY: Worst for me was a Lee Tamahori film. Went for a read on that for the part of the heavy. I knew going out, "Man, you kind of gave 80 percent." And I got in my truck and turned around -- U-turn -- came back in, just [walked] right past the secretary, knocked the casting director out of the way, went right up to [Tamahori] and weight-nailed him against the wall. I grabbed the next guy and put him in the corner and grabbed like a spoon or something. I just wrecked the room and then left. I didn't hear back from 'em. 

JAKE GYLLENHAAL: I remember auditioning for The Lord of the Rings [the role of Frodo] and going in and not being told that I needed a British accent. I really do remember Peter Jackson saying to me, "You know that you have to do this in a British accent?" We heard back it was literally one of the worst auditions.

JARED LETO: It is an incredibly strange process as a grown man to go in and let your ego and your pride get deflected. It's a strange thing.

JOSH BROLIN: I literally started filming my own auditions. [Then-president of production] Meryl Poster at Miramax 10 years ago said, "You and Benicio Del Toro were notoriously the worst auditioners we've ever seen." 

Watch the video below:


For more check out The Hollywood Reporter article here.

This article is related to: The Hollywood Reporter, Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Michael B. Jordan, Forrest Whitaker, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Awards Season Roundup