The actor, 46, talked to The Mid contributor Jeanne Wolf about his new role, fatherhood, and the time he lost his son in a supermarket.
How did you like playing a villain this time around?
It’s such a blast to be a no-holds-barred scoundrel. I had to ask the director if I was having too much fun. It isn’t often that I get that kind of part. My character builds what he thinks is the perfect robot and stakes his entire career on its success. Then he’s beaten to the punch by a better product. That’s when he stops at nothing to win. He hates to lose. But who likes to lose?
You don’t have the track record of a loser.
It’s interesting. It never feels like that from within. So many things that have happened to me in my career were a surprise to me and maybe that has been good. You’d rather go in feeling you’re the underdog. All I’ve tried to do in my career is work really hard and I’m a little shocked, to be honest, at the amount of opportunities that I’ve had. I’ve also lost a lot of them, by the way. That was before the days of YouTube. Now, all of my auditions good and bad seem to be popping up there.
How tough was it at the beginning?
At the end of drama school, I made a contract with myself that I’d try acting for five years. I was 26. I had already spent eight years working in restaurants and gas stations. I had seen enough small businesses to understand that that’s what acting is — a small business. You have to put everything into it before you can really say you’ve had a go. And before that contract with myself expired, I was cast in X-Men as Wolverine and, as they say, the rest is history.
In the midst of your success you’ve always seemed to put being a husband and father first.
The love I have for my wife is so intense, but nothing prepared me for the love I have for my kids. That feeling is overwhelming. The thought of them being in any trouble, any pain … I would do anything to avoid it. I would jump in front of a bus for them. I had about an hour at a supermarket where I lost my son and let me tell you, it was the longest hour of my life.
What’s important to you in day-to-day living?
I’m often asked when I’m on Broadway, “How do you do the same show over and over again?” But we all do the same routine in life over and over again. People have the same relationships. We go through the same patterns. Each time you get another chance. My acting teacher once said, “Acting is the best training for life.” He was right. You have the opportunity to do the same show, but to make it deeper each time. And isn’t that what we’re here for?