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Watch: Michael Keaton, Benedict Cumberbatch and More Best Actor Frontrunners On Career Highs and Lows

Watch: Michael Keaton, Benedict Cumberbatch and More Best Actor Frontrunners On Career Highs and Lows

It’s that time of year again — The Hollywood Reporter is back with its perennial fave, the roundtable. Men in dramatic roles are in the hot seat this time: watch Ethan Hawke, Michael Keaton, Channing Tatum, Timothy Spall, Eddie Redmayne, and Benedict Cumberbatch talk about their recent roles, as well as past work. Note that this year it’s three Englishmen and three Americans — evenly split down the middle.

Here are a few highlights from the conversation, followed by an embed of the hour-long conversation:

Hawke, on his biggest mistake:
“It’s funny. I did a movie, I was about 29 years old. And I was feeling really confident at the time. And I remember being very frustrated with the director because I felt that he was an idiot and he was really holding me back from doing the work that I wanted to do. I felt this real need to tell everybody that I knew more than they did, you know? And when I think back on it now, I feel so embarrassed. There was a moment, and then a couple of years pass, you turn 30. All of a sudden, I saw hallways of things I didn’t know. And the older I get, the more I would never be frustrated with a director like that. There’s a great Brando quote: “You have to meet every director as your kind of spiritual spouse.” You just have to marry them to make the movie they want to make. If you watch ‘Last Tango in Paris,’ that is an actor completely committed to that story — and he’s inside a very dangerous film, a film that deals with erotica. Human sexuality is something nobody wants to talk about on a real, adult level: mourning, death, fear of death, fear of getting old, sex. I mean, you’re talking about Turing and being gay, and I can’t help but think 20 years ago how radical it was for an actor to play a gay person. When River Phoenix was in ‘My Own Private Idaho,’ this was about a young kid who wants to be gay. It was radical that he was doing that.

Cumberbatch, on fame:
There’s so many strands of it, aren’t
there? If you mean being scrutinized in your public life, which isn’t
your work; if you mean requirements of your time which distract your
focus and your energy from what actually brought you to that point where
you’re being distracted, that’s a complete Catch-22: The more work you
do, the more attention there is. You try to escape by dissolving into
work, and it keeps catching up with you every time you stop because it’s
part of the process of work now, to publicize it. But I feel it’s just
[about] getting used to it, and knowing how to play with that and have
fun, which I do. I really do.”

Spall, on a memorable performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”:
I had a French-Canadian contortionist on my back
when I was trying to do Shakespearean comedy. And it felt like hell.
You’d go backstage and there were people wearing verruca socks, which
are worn [to prevent] plantar warts, you know? It was in a massive pile
of water, and one day somebody came in and said, “You’ve not heard the
latest. Someone’s done a poo in the mud.” I said, “What are you talking
about? I’m lying in that before the audience comes in!” I went to the
stage doorkeeper, who had been there for years, wonderful woman. I said, ‘You’ll never guess what I’ve just heard. You know the fairies who are
all diving around in the mud? Someone’s done a poo in it.’ She said, ‘Oh, we’ve had a phantom shitter at the Royal National Theatre for
years.’ (Laughs.) Here’s a pantheon of the most brilliant classical actors in the world, and someone was dropping a log in the [mud].”

Here’s the video:

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