If "Boyhood" was a coming-of-age story 12 years in the making, co-star
Speaking to The Times about his SAG Award nod, the 44-year-old actor gave a shout-out to some of his longtime peers and fellow nominees. He also talked about what it was like working with the "Boyhood" cast and crew for more than a decade.
Where did you hear about your nomination?
I'm actually shooting a little independent film in Atlanta. And there are several things that made me happy about this SAG thing. It's kind of a real thrill for me to nominated alongside Mark Ruffalo [for "Foxcatcher"] and Ed Norton [for "Birdman"]. We showed up in New York around the same time, and to find ourselves all nominated together is meaningful to me.
It's weird also because I'm a member of SAG and I've dedicated my life to this profession. This year, losing Phil [Philip Seymour Hoffman] and Robin [Williams] made me feel closer to the community than ever before.
How did you first get your SAG card?
From "Explorers," a movie I did with River Phoenix in 1984.
Are you surprised at how "Boyhood" is proving to be the little engine that could?
I can't believe it. There's certain movies that the second you do them, people think you're hunting for awards. Some of these movies come out and you can smell it on them. "Boyhood" started out as the most artistically pure experience I've had for over a decade. I think the bulk of the time I was doing it, I didn't think the movie would ever come out. It almost seemed fictitious.
Was it hard to return to the character when you had such long gaps between each performance?
For me, it wasn't that distant ever because I did "Before Sunset" and "Before Midnight" while we were making "Boyhood." It's been a part of my ethos. It was never far away from me. When Richard Linklater asked me to do this movie, he was asking me to do a portrait of fatherhood. It's a subject matter that was integral to my life. I thought about that all the time and for 12 years, every time I took a job, I just had to call Rick and tell him I was thinking about taking a job to make sure we could still work out the details. It's been a scheduling nightmare.
How did you change as an actor over the years the film shot?
It changed my fathering. Ellar [Coltrane] was always two years ahead of my daughter. I could learn a lot about where my kid was headed. Parents don't spend time with other kids of their generation, so they don't know what's unique to their kid.
Do you enjoy award shows?
There's so much failure in our lives and so much rejection and so much apathy and indifference to the life of an actor. You even get subjected to ridicule, and you have to weather that storm. I look at these things as a sunny day. I've grown up with actors, and this union is incredibly important to me. It's not lost on me that often times the best performances come from actors who are fighting it out with poor writing and poor conditions trying to bring some humanity to some numbnut episode of TV that the director doesn't care about. That actor doesn't ever get a prize.