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Oscar-nominated actors including Sasha Baron Cohen discuss their films
SCOTT FEINBERG: Hi, everyone, and thank you for tuning in to "Close up with the Hollywood Reporter, Actors Edition." I'm Scott Feinberg, "The Hollywood Reporter's" Awards columnist and host of its Awards Chatter podcast. Very honored to be joined today by six incredible actors who gave some of this season's most incredible standout performances.
Let's meet them one by one. To begin with, Ben Affleck, star of Gavin O'Conner's "The Way Back," in which he plays an alcoholic grieving a terrible personal loss, who is hired to coach the high school basketball team for which he once starred. Ben, thank you.
Sacha Baron Cohen, star of Aaron Sorkin's "The Trial of the Chicago Seven," in which he plays Abbie Hoffman, an activist whose protest of the 1968 Democratic National Convention landed him and others on trial with the whole world watching. And also of Jason Woliner's "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm," in which he plays everyone's favorite Kazakh TV host who returns to America, this time to offer his daughter as a child bride to Vice President Mike Penis.
Delroy Lindo, star of Spike Lee's "Da 5 Bloods," in which he plays a MAGA-hat-wearing Vietnam vet who is haunted by the death of one comrade and reunites with several others to return to the jungle where they lost him, and hit a fortune. Delroy, welcome.
Gary Oldman, star of David Fincher's "Mank," in which he plays Herman J. Mankiewicz, the brilliant screenwriter, wit, and boozer who draws upon his interactions with William Randolph Hearst as he writes the original draft of Citizen Kane. Gary, thank you.
Steven Yeun, star of Lee Isaac Chung's "Minari," in which he plays the patriarch of a family that immigrates from Korea to America in the hope of finding a better life, only to encounter a number of daunting challenges. Welcome, Steven.
And John David Washington, star of Sam Levinson's "Malcolm and Marie," in which he plays a director who returns from the premiere of his first major film and clashes with the girlfriend who he forgot to include in his thank yous. And of Christopher Nolan's "Tenet," in which he plays a CIA agent who is dispatched on a mission involving the mysterious process of inversion.
Gentlemen, thank you all so much for being here, even at a truly bizarre time in all of our lives. And I thought that might be a good place to begin. We're obviously speaking in the midst of a global pandemic, massive social unrest in the United States.
Most people have watched the movies that bring us together today at home because most movie theaters are still closed. Many will not reopen. I just wonder how you think the business will be different after everyone is vaccinated and things get back to "normal."
BEN AFFLECK: I don't know. I mean, who knows? The business was changing a lot, especially in terms of a lot of the kind of movies that- that you just mentioned. Like, particularly dramas were sort of largely going away. I think having to do with-- theatrically, having to do with competition from, like, extraordinary amazing stuff on streaming services and it just being hard with price and the expense of getting adults out of the house on weekends.
And so they were kind of migrating that direction anyway. And I think now people have been kind of taught that you're gonna watch at home. And that's fine. I think it'll be very hard to get those kinds of movies back out in theaters.
I mean, if I to guess, I would say that probably theaters-- you know, like, probably in 2006, there were 300 movies released theatrically. And I think, excluding kind of qualifying theatrical releases and stuff like that, there'll probably be 40 movies a year that come out maybe. You know, it'll be mostly, you know, action effects, tentpoles, sequels, superhero-- that kind of movie that you can really count on.
But who knows? I mean, I'm no expert and I have no idea, and I don't really know whether they make their money or not in the same way from streaming. It's a kind of a veiled thing, you know?
With box office, they report it. This is how much money. This is how many tickets got sold. You know, you don't really know who watches it on streaming. Sacha has access to that information, but no one else.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Well, in all seriousness though, for those of you guys who are here with projects that are on streaming services, is that information that is shared with you? Is that information that makes you feel more or less encouraged about this potentially new model moving forward?
GARY OLDMAN: Well, I- I- I think for some, it's, uh, it's a blessing. You know, you make a movie with, let's say Netflix, you don't have to have an opening weekend. You don't have those particular pressures.
And what does it count that you've watched a movie where they calibrate how many they have-- they log how many people are watching? I think it's like two minutes or something, if you've clicked on, watched for two minutes, that it counts as a view.
So you know, I love long form. I love watching the-- I enjoy the streaming services like everyone else.
But I was recently in London, and the "Mank" was playing at the Curzon Cinema, which was just literally a three minute walk from the hotel. And one night I thought, I've never seen this on the big screen. You know, I'll go along and see it and find out what the other customer thought of it.
And so I went to the Curzon and there was about 11 people in the audience. But- but there was something said for being in this big space in a dark room watching this thing 40 feet across. It played faster. I think it felt-- the gags were working, and certainly the guy behind me was having a good time.
So I think there's advantages and disadvantages. It is wonderful to sit in the comfort of your own home and watch something at will. And there's also something to be said about having a community experience in a room. And I don't know when we're ever-- when we're going to get back to that.
BEN AFFLECK: I was just going to say, I mean, one of the things that's an advantage is I don't know that-- I think your movie, Gary, that you made with David is magnificent. I think it's a masterpiece. It's my favorite of David's movies. I think it's his most human movie. I mean, I also happen to identify with being an aging alcoholic screenwriter, so maybe I'm biased.
But you know, I think it's incredible. And I don't know that somebody right now in the studio theatrical world, like, you're right. Like, you have a giant amount of pressure to have that movie do a bunch of money in the first weekend. And you know, Netflix is doing really, really, really interesting, brave stuff. And that is an example.
So it's-- the fact that that got made is probably because it was a streaming service that made it. And I'm just glad it happened.
SCOTT FEINBERG: So I want to ask John David about his experience over the past year, because you've had kind of every way that the pandemic could affect things. I mean, "Tenet" was going to be the-- This is a movie, obviously, like all Nolan movies that are intended for the big screen, best on the big screen.
And it still, you know, he put his foot down and wanted it there. Held out for it to be there, at a time when a lot of theaters were not open. So some people got that experience. Others are now catching up on on streaming.
But then in contrast, you had "Malcolm and Marie," which was entirely conceived of, written, acted, edited during the pandemic. So I guess I just wonder what having been through both of these kinds of-- and is now, by the way, out on streaming on Netflix. So just your- your experience with how this has affected plans.
JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON: Well, um, I equally experienced terror, panic, worry, insecurity, for different reasons, but equally- the equal amount.
You know, obviously, with Christopher Nolan, who I think he's one of the best ever do it as a director, you know, he has a plan. He has a formula with his rollouts. And I appreciated Warner Brothers and working with Syncopy, and them honoring those wishes and how it was intended to be seen.
So the worry was for me, always, is like, Oh here I am getting this huge opportunity and It's not going to get the same treatment as his films has before. So thinking about "Malcolm and Marie" where it was self-financed, I mean, I paid to play it. You know, I didn't get paid to do that. You know, I believed in it that much.
But then it becomes, are we crazy? Is this something that-- did we miss it? Did we miss something? Netflix thought enough to- to believe in it.
But you still have these worries about, is it going to work? At the end of the day, is it a movie that people are going to connect to? You know, some people will like it. Some people won't. But will they have a reaction to it, an actual reaction?
And that's something that I do look for. And it's gonna happen for both.
SCOTT FEINBERG: I know that you guys, and we should emphasize, took every precaution possible to make that "Malcolm and Marie" shoot safe and secure during the pandemic.
Another movie that was shot during the pandemic was "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm," as we see with Sacha staying with these QAnon guys and performing at the March for Our Rights protests against lockdowns. And I want to ask you, Sacha, about just how safe you felt during that process. But I know, maybe even more than the pandemic, you were literally physically at risk at certain times during that shoot, right?
SACHA BARON COHEN: Um, yes, I was at risk at some times. I mean, I tried obviously to do everything I could do to limit my own risk and that of the crew.
I mean, actually on that subject, on the first day of shooting about a year ago, the first day of shooting was at a gun rights rally in Richmond, Virginia. And it reminded me a little bit about- of the images that I saw coming out of DC.
There were a lot of militia there. Everybody had come battle ready, a lot of machine guns, some people with armored vehicles. And that was kind of the first day of shooting. I was going to run through there with a rather insulting message for the NRA, which Borat is wearing accidentally. And i- i- you know, it was an interesting experience.
I mean, that was prior to the pandemic, obviously. Once the pandemic hit, then, you know, I believe we were the first movie out to shoot during the pandemic. It seemed crazy at the time.
And, you know, what we basically did was we were like, OK, who are the experts on coronavirus? Probably not the President and Vice President. So we went to Johns Hopkins and we found their experts on pandemics. And they, kindly enough, helped us devise a system that would keep us relatively safe.
I mean, things like that rally that you're talking about, the second gun rights rally that I went to, that was a bit more dangerous because, you know, we were told that if they felt people were not Republicans or pro-gun, they'd get COVID positive people to spit at you. And that's quite apart from the risks of people getting shot, because we were obviously antagonizing them.
So, yeah, there were some risks. You know, the crew was incredibly brave. They were-- I said to everyone, you know, we don't-- we're going to try our best to keep you safe. We spent a million dollars in the budget for testing and PPE.
I mean, what was really tragic was we had some nurses who'd been working ICU in New York, and they said it was the first time that they'd been given proper PPE. You know, these women had been working in the ICU in New York during the pandemic.
But yeah, I mean, fortunately nobody got sick on the production. And yeah, we got the movie done despite having-- it got shut down a number of times obviously.
SCOTT FEINBERG: I want to turn to Delroy. Most of you guys had not previously worked with the director of your film. Ben, I know, you'd worked with Gavin on The Accountant before.
But Delroy, you actually have an incredible history with Spike Lee. I think your screen career really launched with the three films in four years that you made with him back in the early 90s, "Malcolm X," "Crooklyn," and "Clockers." And then it was 25 years before you guys reunited on this project.
And so I just wondered how did that relationship get going? And then why such a long hiatus?
DELROY LINDO: Um, be-- if it's OK, before I answer that question, just really quickly, your first question that you asked some of the other actors with regard to the pandemic and how it has impacted filmmaking. One thing that Spike said to me right before "Bloods" was hit, it dropped.
And this is in context of the film having been scheduled to go to Cannes, which, of course, we all wanted to do. And having seen the film, feeling very strongly that it needed to be seen on a big screen.
But Spike said to me, because of the pandemic, more people would see the film that had ever seen any of his films in the past. And from Spike's point of view, despite my own personal disappointments around the whole Cannes thing and the rest of that, from Spike's point of view as a filmmaker, I appreciated that. That our work would be seen, the film would be seen, much more broadly than it otherwise may have been seen.
With regard to Spike and my relationship, interestingly, it was-- to reconnect at 25 years was relatively seamless. Obviously, we've both gotten older, but in terms of the work process, making the work, it was relatively seamless. And that's one of the components that I cherish about working with Spike.
And the fact that it was this particular material at this particular time just heightened my appreciation of the whole, whole thing. But the short answer to your question is, it didn't feel like 25 years. And we just kind of eased back into working as we had back in 1996.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Yeah. Stephen, you have a fascinating origin story here with "Minari." You didn't even necessarily realize, or I believe there was a relation to the filmmaker that was not apparent even to you. Can you just take us back to how this crossed your radar and how at all-- it seems like it was kind of fated to happen in the end.
STEVEN YEUN: I just got-- it was-- this movie came together really quickly. Um, I got this script in 2000, like October of 2018. And it was our agent, mutual agent at the time, Christina Chow. She was like, hey I represent your cousin. I was like, who's- who's my cousin? What are you talking about?
And she was like, you know, Isaac. And I was like, Oh shit you-- uh, excuse me.
SCOTT FEINBERG: You can say it.
STEVEN YEUN: Oh, you-- OK, cool. Oh shit. Like, you represent Isaac? That's so insane.
I only met him-- he's my wife's cousin, and I only met him at our wedding, and then a previous wedding maybe two, three years before. And then I'd never really ever spoken to him before.
I saw his first film, which was like one of the first films I saw with my wife 10 years ago, "Munyurangabo." And I- I'll be honest, like, I didn't know how to appreciate it then, because I was just just a starving improviser in Chicago. So it was just like, I didn't know what was happening.
And then to come back full circle and then be given his script was wild because he wrote something that I wanted to say maybe my whole professional life. And it just presented itself like that. And so we went from me reading that script in October, to us shooting in June, to then us premiering at Sundance 2020.
SCOTT FEINBERG: And the thing that you had wanted to say, I would love to ask you, but I just want to set this up by noting that you've had an incredible last couple of years between "Okja" and "Burning," and all, you know, everything you've done.
But I want to particularly set this up with those two because in a sense, the characters that you've played were people who were caught between cultures. And I think that actually was maybe the thing, from what I understand, that gave you some pause about doing "Minari." And so just how you looked at that would be interesting.
STEVEN YEUN: It's been pretty strange. And probably mostly just from my personal point of view, it feels profound. But this whole year has been, beyond the obvious things, been a wild trip.
To kind of go from "Okja" where I played like a Korean-American kid who was caught between worlds, doesn't know where he fits, to then go to play "Burning" to play a Korean national that's like super worldly, that's kind of beyond any cultural specificity. He's just kind of a man above society.
And then to get to play, you know, a version of my father's generation in America, I mean, all those sequentially kind of had to happen in that sequence in order for me to, I think, properly approach those things.
But I think like the craziest part has been, like, thinking about this year, the theme of isolation. And just the theme of just being caught in your own little void, which is scary, and terrifying, and lonely. But also so true.
And then to have this year reflected back like that was- was crazy. Especially because "Minari" actually created a connection for me. By like going so deep into the isolation, it actually created connection to an understanding my father's generation, or just an understanding of each other. You know, just the humanity of each other.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Because your personal journey, and I mean, Isaac's is essentially the one that inspired the film and that you guys are playing, but it's not all that different from your own family's, right?
STEVEN YEUN: You know, we're playing an immigrant existence in that film. And we're not really focusing on the external parameters of an immigrant existence. It's really such a human film.
It's really just about a family, a father, a mother, kids, grandmother, and just seeing each other a little bit clearer. And all the while, I think maybe the larger theme that can bring it together is that this family is isolated within themselves, and then even within their family, they're all isolated. And it takes time and it takes sometimes tragedy to see each other a little bit clearer.
And yeah. I mean, all that to say, it's been crazy. It's been crazy.
SCOTT FEINBERG: I want to come back to Ben for a second because I wonder-- you know, you've you've had over the last decade, let's say, a bunch of films that you have directed and in most cases starred in. I mean, it started a little over a decade ago with "Gone Baby, Gone," which you were not in. But since then, we've seen "The Town," "Argo," "Live by Night."
Is it- is it something that you find an easy adjustment to go back to just acting for somebody else and being in their movie? And particularly in this case, if you can talk about just the state of mind that you were in when you had to go to work.
BEN AFFLECK: Yes, it's an easy adjustment to go into-- for me, to act in something that I'm really attracted to, and drawn to, and that resonates with me. Like in the case of this movie, was not only attractive and easy in that sense, although some things were hard about it. It was wonderful, and kind of cathartic, and reminded me why I love and started acting in the first place.
It was like, even things that were emotional or upsetting, in some way, I was thrilled, and- and exhilarated, and ecstatic at the end of the day. And reminded me how lucky I am. How lucky I am to have this career and have the opportunity to do this, to get the chance to work on something that not only resonates with me but I hope resonates with other people.
I mean-- and I have to say something else. You know, I've seen all your-- I'm really pleased, and honored, and flattered to be in the same Zoom call with all of you. You guys have all done amazing performances.
I saw all your movies, except "Malcolm" and "Minari," which I saw last night. And that movie, that performance, John, that you turned in is one of the best things I have ever seen. That, I don't know-- I'm saying this because you said did it connect with people or not?
It was so real to me, and so authentic, and so kind of elusive and kind of magic. Like, just when a performance works and everything just, it's all comes together at once in this very mysterious way where the character is insecure, and you see his ego. And he's- he's jealous, and he's angry, and frustrated, and- and celebrating.
I mean, it was so fucking good that I just wanted to, before like, and it comes to the last and I didn't say anything, I just want to tell you, I was blown-- you were fucking spectacular in that movie.
It was as, I don't know, because you were talking about like it was during the pandemic, and it was in [INAUDIBLE], or whatever it was, where I also, as I was saying to Gary, I've had some experiences similar to-- it was so real in some ways to me that I just was like, this-- you know, that performance, that was great.
And I identified with everything, like, not what happened to your character, but just everything you did felt so real, and powerful, and complex. I bring it up both just- just to compliment you and to thank you for such an amazing performance. And also because that's exactly the kind of character and the kind of thing that I find interesting and want to play.
And in a way, I guess it's the hardest thing to do because it is complicated and tricky. But like, with this character in "The Way Back," you know, is contrary, flawed. You know, you're allowed to be a real person.
And that is the kind of thing that was really, really-- that is I love doing. And really kind of want to really mostly do. And you know, my criterion for sort of-- at this stage of my life, as I sort of segue into, you know, I'll be 50 in two years. You know, I have three children I want to spend time with. I have a life that I really enjoy. And I also I want to really love my work. And I want to do these kinds of movies and tell these kinds of stories with characters that are as rich as the ones that you all portrayed.
You know, watching "Mank" made me think like, God I have to direct him. It was so magnificent, this movie. All you guys. It's those, to me, like, you all here are a representation of what is really interesting to me about acting and why I love doing it so much. And why, you know, what I'm trying to do when I do, do it.
SCOTT FEINBERG: So just to come back though for one sec to talk about-- I mean, what what people have been so impressed about, I think, about your performance is how-- and I'm talking to Ben here for a second, more-- is just about you know, how raw and real it does feel. And I think part of that, as you've spoken about, is because it was coming from a very raw and real place literally the day you arrived on set, I mean, right?
BEN AFFLECK: Yeah, well, that's a slight exaggeration. But yeah. Yeah, I mean, I guess you're referring to the fact that I'm a recovering alcoholic and I play an alcoholic in the movie, and it's about-- It's really about grief, and loss, and losing a child, which thank God, you know, I have not experienced. I think it's probably the worst thing you can experience.
But also a lot of it about alcoholism. Alcoholism in and of itself, and compulsive behavior, are not necessarily inherently super interesting. But what is interesting is the the personal process that you kind of go through, what you discover about yourself sometimes in the course of recovery. And trying to figure out sort of what went wrong and how to fix it. And how you want your life to look. And what kind of ethics you want to live by. And that kind of thing.
And for me, "The Way Back" represented not so much-- like, yes, I'm an alcoholic. Yes, I had relapsed. I went into recovery again. And then went and did that movie.
But it really didn't have much to do with thinking about alcohol or alcoholism. For me, that movie was much more about the fact that, whether it's having lived enough years, having seen enouhg ups and downs, having children, of course, having experienced a lot of different things, I'm at a point now in my life where I have sufficient life experience to bring to a role to make it really interesting for me.
I'm not good enough to just invent it from whole cloth. And so having growing older and having had more intense and meaningful personal experiences has made acting in general much more interesting for me, and in turn made me drawn to the kinds of movies that are, you know, that are about people that are really interesting and flawed.
And, you know, I do think, yes, I didn't have to do the research for the alcoholism aspect of the movie. That was covered. That was the sort of Daniel Day Lewis approach to that.
But really, you know, it's like the things that for me that were interesting and resonant about that experience were this ability to tap into a broad range of emotional experiences. And that has kind of stayed with me, that feeling and that excitement, in the movies I've done subsequently. And it's been just really kind of enriching time.
And I loved working with Gavin. And I loved doing the movie.
SCOTT FEINBERG: So we're talking there about a sort of a turning point, maybe, in Ben's life and career. I want to follow up on what Ben said about John David, which is this is an amazing performance and an amazing year for you. And I want to ask you to kind of talk about, just in your own mind, how it feels to-- you know, you knew, you were a football star before you were an actor. You knew when when that--
JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON: I wouldn't say star. I wasn't a star.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Wouldn't say a star? OK, a standout.
JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON: [INAUDIBLE] say that.
SCOTT FEINBERG: When an injury made that no longer possible, you decide to get into acting. Acting, knowing that, you know, you have two parents who are tremendous talents in this business and that you're going to have to hear all kinds of comparisons, and knocks, and questions, and all of that, how does it feel-- I think at this point, whatever you had to deal with at the beginning, to have now had a year like you've had, and basically I think, come through the other side, nobody I would imagine is going to be questioning at this point like, does this guy belong here?
Does that feel like a load off your shoulders at this point?
JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON: I'm still a bit overwhelmed with what Ben said. So thank you so much. And I feel the same way about everybody here. I mean, Delroy, I mean, the OG. You know, I have an experience with Spike Lee, and I feel like I'm forever connected to you just because of that.
You know, and I've never seen a set with so many people that looked like us before. So that whole thing is just crazy.
But to answer your question, like, no. I still feel like-- you know, that's what football also did for me. I was able to accumulate all these different experiences and filter them through this thing, or apply them where they were necessary.
In my experience, guys get cut every day. People get auditions or workouts every Tuesday. So I don't care what number I am on the call sheet, this could be my last day. They might decide, you know, we can replace him. I'm at the table read, I can be replaced. I'm at the dinner you know, having a general with the director. I'm going to be myself because what I got to lose? I've been cut before.
So I'm always feeling like-- I was watching the Jordan documentary, and he would find any excuse to get the psychological advantage. So like for me, even if it's not that, the reality is maybe I've arrived, I don't think so. I don't feel that way. I always have something to prove. And that's equally because of my father and my mother, equally, because I respect them as artists so much.
But what has helped me is being able to work with a Spike Lee and him believing in me. Christopher Nolan believing in me. Sam Levinson believing in me with all this text. So that is encouraging.
The current director I'm working with now, him believing in me to have the responsibility to tell a story, their story. And with some of these great directors in my experience, it's not their story. It becomes our story. I feel like I'm involved. I feel like I'm a colleague.
So in that regard, it makes the ease of having to prove something a little less. So it's definitely turned on something I always-- I'm dealing with. But overall, that's just how it is for me.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Yeah a different-- so I mean, Gary, you've been at the top of your game for decades now. And I think it's interesting that I read, you and Fincher first crossed paths like in 1990. We're talking like 30 plus years ago.
That was I believe, over something to do with "Aliens 3." Then, I mean, you guys have I believe, known each other since then. I think you have an ex-wife in common. You guys have a lot of background. And yet it was not until now that--
BEN AFFLECK: That's a hell of a thing to have in common!
SCOTT FEINBERG: Wasn't it--
SACHA BARON COHEN: [INAUDIBLE] more into the middle of a question.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Well, no, I mean, it's not until now that we finally get to see you guys work together. Talk about what made it happen now.
GARY OLDMAN: Well, I think there's-- Yeah, I've known David for a long time. There's two different types of director. There's the director that you meet and they say, oh, I love your work. We should do something together. And you never hear from them again.
DELROY LINDO: Right. Right.
GARY OLDMAN: And then there's the other director who says, we've got to work together. And then they try and sort of manufacture something and they try and put a round peg into a square hole. You know, they try to kind of engineer something that is just really not going to work or is not the right fit.
And then David picks up the phone when he feels that you're right. He's not just going to just cast you. I think if something comes along that he feels that you're right for, then you then you get the call.
So really, I had, I thought, well, I'll never probably tick that box. And then like these things do, as we all know, and I'm sure, Delroy, after you know, 25 years, you know something falls from the sky.
DELROY LINDO: Amen.
GARY OLDMAN: And you go, what? Oh, OK. David Fincher.
DELROY LINDO: Right.
GARY OLDMAN: And then reading the material and then imagining the movie in your head when you're reading it, as we do, but with the added edge of David. You know, I could only just barely grasp what he could do with this era, the period, the Golden Age of Hollywood.
SCOTT FEINBERG: But there was something that gave you some pause, right? I mean, I read that here, you know, you recently, very recently, won an Oscar for playing another real person under a lot of makeup, and hair, and padding, and all that. In this case, he's saying to you, we want you to play a real person, Mankiewicz, with nothing. No makeup, no hair, no--
GARY OLDMAN: Yeah. Yeah I mean, it isn't something I personally go out of-- I don't necessarily go out of my way-- I do love the the disguise and the dressing up aspect of what we do, because that's something that is a lot of fun. But I don't get on the phone to the agent going, you've got to get me a prosthetic role.
I mean, these things come and they go. And they come across your desk.
But it's all based on-- And a little, it goes to what John was saying. I like a disguise because of my own insecurity. It's nothing to do with David. It's nothing to do with Chris Nolan. It's nothing to do with Oliver Stone or any of these people. It's my insecurity.
And when I can hide, I feel-- I feel a need to hide because it makes me feel more comfortable. I don't know what it is, but it comes back to not being worthy. Like Ben, you know, I'm now, I'm coming up to 24 years of sobriety in March.
But I remember all those things that made me want to drink. So these are all my own insecurities. So when David said, I want you naked. I want you as naked as you've ever been. I do not want a veil between you and the audience.
All that, it just played into Gary's insecurities. And he just said, trust me. Trust me. Trust me.
And anyway, as Ben knows, having worked with David, you know, I couldn't persuade-- he wasn't having it. So you go, OK, so I'm going to go naked with this. And really, it was the best call.
And oddly enough, after a couple of days on the bicycle, you know, it was rather liberating.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Nice. Well, I want to turn to Sacha because people may not know, but Borat goes back many years to "Ali G Show," right. But even further back is your association, in a sense, with Abbie Hoffman.
And I wonder if you can just talk about how you first became interested in him. Why you lobbied for that part for years. And also, and I know this is a long question, but I think it can all be wrapped up in one, you know, when you achieve as much success as you've achieved making people laugh-- the minute we see you, we're bracing ourselves to laugh. Did you have any concern that, that might prevent people, whether it's filmmakers or audiences, from being willing to accept you as a more serious person?
SACHA BARON COHEN: Firstly, how did I come across Abbie Hoffman? When I was 20 years old, I was staying in the YMCA in downtown Atlanta next to the Martin Luther King Center researching a thesis on Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights movement in the 60s. And Abbie Hoffman was one of a bunch of Jewish radicals who went down South to support voter registration for people of color. And later that group of mainly Jewish radicals then became the basis for the anti-Vietnam War movement.
So I heard about him from the age of 20. Then I heard that Spielberg was making a movie about the Chicago Seven. With, you know, characteristic hutzpah, I called him up and asked him whether I could audition. And so this was 13 years ago. And actually Aaron Sorkin was the writer.
And I remember Spielberg was concerned that I would be able to do the accent because the only thing he'd seen me do was Borat, the first Borat. And he put me with a dialect coach and he said, OK, in two weeks time I want this speech done as Abbie Hoffman in the right character.
With the dialect coach, every night we recorded at the beginning and end of the session for two weeks. So we recorded the same speech twice. So by the end, we had about 25 recordings on this CD.
And at the beginning, it was dreadful. You know, I sounded like a Northwest London Jewish guy trying to do Abbie Hoffman, who's this Boston radical who'd sort of had some influences of Brandeis University and Berkeley, a very specific accent. It was dreadful, like sort of unbelievably bad.
By the end of the two weeks, I kind of, you know, the dialect coach felt I'd nailed it. I said to my assistant, you know, Steven Spielberg wants-- you know, put take 48, put it on a separate CD. Deliver it to Steven's house by 9:00 AM.
At lunchtime, I meet up in Steven's mother's kosher restaurant called Milk and Honey. His mother was there. His late mother was there. And Steven sits me down and he says, listen. He goes, I got the CD. Thank you very much.
He goes, I've got to be honest. He goes, the first 15 takes were not very good. And I was like, what? He goes, by take 20, you were getting good. And by take 35 it was almost perfect. By take 37, it was absolutely perfect.
And I realized my assistant had given the wrong CD. She'd given 38 takes to Steven Spielberg, and Steven Spielberg had listened for over an hour to the same speech.
SCOTT FEINBERG: How many more minutes was she employed by you after that?
JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON: I'm about to say, what's her name? What's her name?
SACHA BARON COHEN: Unbelievably, she's actually gone on to be a very successful producer. And I kept her on for another year. By the way, the story gets--
BEN AFFLECK: He must've been like, this guy's fucking unbelievable! He wants me to listen to 50 takes?
SACHA BARON COHEN: He listened for an hour and fi- That's why Steven Spielberg, right? It's like all of us. You've got to have talent, but you've got to work your ass off as well. That guy, Steven Spielberg, because he listened to-- I mean, the first 20 takes were so bad. They were like, allo, my name's Abbie Hoffman. Just like every dustman from the East End.
So yeah. And so somehow, he still went ahead and he's like, all right, great. The accent's perfect. We're going to make sure that-- Still kept me in the job. Then the writers' strike happened.
And I mean, it was an amazing cast, but tragically, two of the cast members are no longer with us. And so I stayed. I knew I had to play this character. And over the years, there were different directors. I'm sure it came on to you all. It was offered to you at one point, I think, Ben. No need to
DELROY LINDO: It was not offered to me. It was not offered to me. Let's put
BEN AFFLECK: It was offered to me with Delroy playing Abbie Hoffman.
DELROY LINDO: It was not offered to me, OK.
GARY OLDMAN: No. And me neither, even with
SACHA BARON COHEN: And then yeah, 13 years later, I asked whether-- I mean, it was a cheeky question as well-- whether there's any way they'd reconsider me for a role of a like a 35-year-old that Spielberg had cast me in. And somehow Aaron agreed to do it.
So yeah. It all turned out. And Aaron being the writer and director, ended up being a lot more powerful, actually, coming out just before the election than it would have done coming out 13 years ago.
And I can't remember the last question you asked.
SCOTT FEINBERG: That'll be fine. Thank you.
GARY OLDMAN: What a story!
SCOTT FEINBERG: Yeah, great story.
Delroy, I think one of the things that's really fascinating to people about "The 5 Bloods" is that Spike made the decision to ask these guys, the older vets now, to play themselves as younger people during the flashbacks. And I wonder, did that throw you? Was that exciting to you? I believe it was a budgetary driven decision, but it actually feels perfect to me.
DELROY LINDO: It was a budgetary decision mixed with Spike's genius. And what I mean by that is he took lemons and made lemonade, which is what we have to do oftentimes.
When I read it in the script, I didn't miss a beat. For whatever reason, it felt completely natural, organic, and the right thing to do.
In the context of making the film, it was even more right because we had been working for five or six weeks before Chadwick arrived. So that by the time we were filming the scenes with Chadwick, it felt right that we as the age we are now were going back in time as we are to revisit this younger norm. So it felt completely organic and natural. And it works. And it works.
I have to just say a couple of things, please, if I may. When you were speaking, Ben, and you were speaking so effusively about your process and what the work means to you. And I think we all share that.
As an added bonus on top of the passion, and the desire, and just the plain hard fucking work that we bring to this process, the fact that we are-- we engage this work as we do and then for whatever reason, we are singled out. And being singled out, we get to spend time together like this, and that makes it extra special.
And in that context, I want to ask the actors-- I need to ask, because I'm on the verge of directing my first film, and I need and want to ask the actor/directors in the room how you do it. Because some of the things that have occurred to me, do I film all my scenes?
I'm trying to figure out a way of filming my scenes separately so that I can then concentrate on the rest of the material. That may or may not work. I'm curious to hear from the actor/directors, because we may never meet again, what your experience was. If you don't mind.
BEN AFFLECK: I just had this conversation-- Michael B. Jordan's a friend of mine, and he's starting to direct-- he's directing his first movie soon. And I just had this conversation with him.
And I agree with you. The real treat, and pleasure, and joy of this experience is like to get to sit down-- I mean, I would prefer in an actual room-- but to get to meet you all and listen to you. And all of you artists who I so profoundly admire, and whose work moves me so much.
This is, in a lot of ways, I mean in some ways, it seems like, you know, here we are just promoting our movies and you know flogging it, and that kind of thing.
But really, it's actually so much more joyful, and enlightening, and educational to hear from you all directly. It's an enormous treat. And it's the kind of thing you want to ask while you're sitting there and watching the movie. And to get the chance to do it is wonderful.
What I said to Michael, and what I asked everybody, too, before I did it. And I didn't act in my first one because I was intimidated. I thought it would be too hard to be acting and directing. And I asked a bunch of other actors and directors.
And one of the things that actually was, oddly, most helpful was, I had a chance to talk to Warren Beatty. And I said, like, what was it that made you feel confident enough that you could actually do it? Because there's a lot of mystification of the process and a lot of people who sort of want to set you back from it. And a part of that is directors who just don't want people interfering with them. And so they go like, it's too complicated. You wouldn't understand it.
First of all, I think, ultimately actors, frankly, and brilliant actors like you, make good directors because the most important thing in my view about directing is taste. And you so clearly have that and it's not going anywhere.
And really, ultimately, it comes down to, what do I think is interesting? What moves me? What do I think is good?
You know that. No one can take it away from you. It'll always be there. It's your instinct. And what resonates with you will resonate.
And like sticking with that voice, for me, is the way to do it. And it's the kind of thing I look for in directors that I work with. You know, do I think they have good taste?
David, I think, is, you know, is an example of a guy with extraordinary taste and also, you know, the soul and taste of an artist and the mind of an engineer. And he's this rare kind of monster who is so brilliant that it's almost overwhelming. But you don't have to be as brilliant as David. You can just be an ordinary guy.
DELROY LINDO: Hey Ben? Ben? Just for the record, I'm more brilliant than David Fincher. So just [INAUDIBLE].
BEN AFFLECK: OK, good.
DELROY LINDO: I'm just saying. I don't have that issue. Go ahead.
BEN AFFLECK: That's exactly what Warren Beatty said. I said, Warren, how do you feel confident directing movies? And he said, have you ever been sitting on a movie you were acting in and looked over at the director and thought, if this asshole can do it... Keep that in mind.
SCOTT FEINBERG: That's, uh, we look forward to seeing your film, Delroy. And I want to go to Steven because we have on this panel a bunch of guys here who are, in these roles that we're talking about, have, you know, just incredible long, verbose, but in the best sense, monologues. Delroy, I think you have a four minute, two camera monologue. In your film, Gary, you've got some unbelievable ones. John David, between the 40 LEGOs and a mule, and all the different ones in your film. It's amazing.
Jacob, who Steven plays, is a very, I think a man of few words. Soft spoken. But has managed to convey so much. And so I just wonder, when you see a character who doesn't have a ton of dialogue on the page, is that daunting or exciting to you? How do you look at that when you're approaching the job?
STEVEN YEUN: That's a good question. Sometimes I actually prefer that. That actually makes me feel more free about it. Because what I have at least found for myself is that a lot of the work, I mean, most of the work, is internal anyhow. And sometimes, you know, when you read a lot of dialogue it gets tricky because you're, it just, you know--
I don't mind seeing a lot of dialogue. I'd love to say a lot of dialogue. But there's also something beautiful about the space in between the words and the space in between moments. And that was what was really fun about playing Jacob, was just really deeply connecting to the internal dialogue of his reality.
You know, he's an immigrant, and he's a first generation immigrant, so, you know, the language is a barrier for him. And he's also coming from a place of kind of a collectivist existence anyhow, from a Korean background. And so he's he's also-- You know, that that type of mentality is a little bit different than the way that we live here, which is very much like, here's who I am. From Korea, the East, it's more like, you probably already know who I am. Or I'm fitting this box that you need me to fit in for the collective.
And I think that type of existence is in some ways like this movie. It's in some ways the ways that East and West miscommunicate and why they don't understand each other. And I think that was the fun in playing that, was just, it's a glance. It's a look. It's the shoulders. It's just the breathing. It's the way you sit.
And approaching work from that point of view is always, it's scary because you don't know if anybody's going to see. But Isaac, and good directors, really wonderful directors, they always see. And that was I think the liberating thing of like being able to work with really wonderful directors, is that when you just submit and just kind of like get to be, they'll catch it. They'll [INAUDIBLE].
GARY OLDMAN: You know, it's- it's funny that you mentioned that. You know, in "Darkest Hour," you know, you have all this, you know, the Parliament, and you have-- I mean, he's a wordsmith. Churchill wrote more words than Dickens and Shakespeare put together. And so, he's a talker.
But someone asked me, they said, what's your favorite scene? And my favorite scene was Churchill walking down a hallway and he hears Hitler broadcasting, and he turns back and closes the door shut so that he can't-- so he's closing him out.
There's no dialogue. It's just-- I just-- just the physicality, the action, the intention, the thought. Everything is in that quiet scene and this voice off. And we all instantly recognize who it is. And so it's a really--
And the way that Joe Wright just staged it. It's a quiet moment and it's one of my favorites.
And also working with-- I've had the pleasure of working with Morgan Freeman. And he's a great one for saying, you know, I could do this one line and a look. I don't need all this dialogue. He said, I could just do this with two words and a look.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Yeah. It feels like sometimes--
BEN AFFLECK: In my experience, it's like-- Sorry. Go ahead.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Go ahead, please.
BEN AFFLECK: I just was saying that like, you know, it's not really, in my experience, about like, the words. When an actor or actress is locked in, and comfortable, and has found the character in a deep and resonant way and isn't trying to sell you something. And I think Stephen, your point is is really good, that, like, good directors know not to try to sell you something. And great actors the same.
And it is to have to be brave enough to take the risk to, as Gary said, be naked and let what happens happen. And when somebody like the five actors I'm looking at now is as locked in, in character in that performance, you know, it doesn't matter if they're speaking or doing a 10 page monologue, there's something embodied about it that is just working and alive.
And that's really what I find so impressive about the actors that I admire. There is something that is very hard to distinguish from a kind of magic about great acting. And it involves a kind of inhabiting another person. And that's really where where it is, I think, for me.
STEVEN YEUN: Yeah. I've been thinking about that a little bit-- Oh, sorry, Sacha, you were going to say.
SACHA BARON COHEN: No, I'm just saying, one of the films I did this year was "Chicago Seven," and in that, there were about three weeks where I was in a courtroom essentially listening, so I was silent. And being very, very egotistical and a huge narcissist, I obviously looked at the pages like, you know, Aaron Sorkin any way you could write us a little bit more dialogue here? Some of that award winning dialogue?
And you know, I was quite scared of, firstly, the cast for that is incredible. And just to echo what Ben and Delroy have said, I mean, it's a great honor being on a Zoom here virtually with all of you, all of whose work that I've admired, some of you for decades. So really, really honored.
But so in that movie, I was really sort of terrified about, how will I be interesting and on when I'm completely silent for three weeks essentially? I mean, and also the problem was the cast was so good that at times I was scared that I was going to turn into a spectator looking at this brilliant Aaron Sorkin play that I had front row seats at.
But yeah. I also want to echo, John, I was looking at your movie and I thought that's an incredible performance. And just technically, the length of those speeches and the memory required. So I mean, my experience was literally coming into it from the other side of being completely silent and then obviously active.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Just a quick follow up for you Sacha, I mean, I found it interesting that your two films this year-- My understanding is with Borat, yes, you do have an outline of what you're looking to do, but obviously there's quite a bit of improv in the moment. But then you go to Aaron Sorkin, who, apparently, you don't really change a word. Just if you can compare and contrast those experiences, because that's pretty dramatic polar opposites, I would think.
SACHA BARON COHEN: So with Borat, you know, there is a lot of line learning there. I'm rewriting the script continually, often until 30 minutes before we start shooting. So often I'll go into a scene and there can be 50 lines that have just been written that you have to kind of memorize.
And actually, one of the scenes was five days long. So with that, there are pages and pages of dialogue that I'm trying to get in. But then obviously, with the scene that is-- one of the scenes is 5 days long, and I'm with the other people for about 14 hours a day. So you are-- I don't know what my maths is, but that's about that's a 70 hour scene, so you've got to navigate your way through that scene and make sure you've got these good lines in there.
And then somehow Sorkin hires me and he wants everything to be precise. My question to him on the first day was, why me? Because I'm known for improvising. And obviously, I was trying to pitch that I should improvise.
But I mean, the beauty of Sorkin's language is that it's perfect. And I can't remember who said it, but it's sort of, you can make a bad movie with a great script, but you can't make a great movie with a bad script.
And Sorkin's, you are coming to it with a great script. So you have that safety net. You're already 60% there. You just have to bring the reality, your own flourish, the detail of character. But the movie is going to be captivating, you know, captivating whatever you do. Not to diminish the incredible work all of you have done.
But for me, there was that real security of knowing that I had a word perfect script. But yes. Obviously, I pushed him and said, can I just see-- Because again, you were saying like Ridley Scott, in two or three takes and it's all done. We were talking about prior to the Zoom.
Aaron Sorkin, he gets there and he wants to move on. You know, sometimes it's one, two takes. And I'd say, can I just try something a little bit different even if you end up not using it. Because for me, as quite a novel actor, and I've done far less films than most of you. I've only done a handful of films, really, that I haven't written.
For me, once the director is happy, that actually reduces so much stress that I can actually often do my best take. Because I know he's happy with me. So I was just saying, please, let me try one where I'm completely relaxed. I know you've got what you want, but let me try and reinterpret that text.
SCOTT FEINBERG: So I just I know our time is short, so I want to wrap up with something that I think is just sort of a big picture question that other actors might find interesting. And that is, how do each of you measure whether or not a project has been successful, in hindsight?
BEN AFFLECK: You know, to be honest, I used to have a different set of criteria when I was younger. I wanted to impress people. I wanted to get the next job. As John David said, there's this thing inside us as actors that's always feel--
There's no tenure. There's no gold watch. There's no-- You know, you're only as good as your next job. The phone has stopped ringing for more talented people than me.
You're constantly aware of that, and there is this anxiety and pressure. And I a lot of times used to be, I want the movie to make money so that I can be seen as hireable by the studio. I want it to be good because I want to impress these people that I admire and I want them to validate me and tell me that I'm good. And I want to be, you know, my father struggled to do this and I want to be able to do it and not struggle and make a living.
All kinds of things that I have tried over the years to use as measuring sticks. And what I found, I was just talking to a really good friend of mine who does this, too, about this yesterday, is that I've just stopped doing all of that. And I just--
There are like three or four really good friends who I love and respect whose opinions really matter to me. And I might show them the movie and I really hope they like it. And if they don't, I listen to them and I'll probably try to change it.
But mostly, and honestly, it's like, you know if it's good. You know if you did something interesting. You know if it was an interesting experience. You know if it was a valuable experience.
It's not about what other people say. Or, I mean, I suppose that's a cliche, but it just really isn't. Or how much money-- I can't tell you why people buy tickets to some movies or others. And why some win awards or don't. Or I've vehemently agreed and disagreed with critics in equal measure. I just know what I like.
I know with Gone Girl, the experience of getting to know, and love, and be friends with David, was the-- I love the movie, but that was the most important part of it for me. And there are personal little goals that I have and things that I'm trying to accomplish. And if I feel I've done that, I'm really trying, and I'm not always successful.
I'm still subject to feeling like, jeez, everyone didn't hate that movie. You know what I mean, it's not a good feeling. And it's nice when people like your movie, for sure. Mostly because you get the opportunity to meet other extraordinary artists from whom you can learn.
I guess that's a very long way of saying, I try to just set my own goals and have my own criterion and not worry too much. Because in this day and age, you're going to hear something different from everybody, and everyone's voice is heard, and it's a very cacophonous and ultimately, I think, a very crazy making way to try to echolocate like, how did that work?
SCOTT FEINBERG: Delroy?
DELROY LINDO: I'm going to piggyback on that. It's a feeling for me, when I think about how I felt about "Bloods," I felt good inside of the work. And it occurs to me that had the film come out and audiences had not responded to it, that would not impact how I feel about the process, how I feel about the process of making the work. How I felt as a result of making the work. And it felt good.
And I can say that about when I did "The Cider House Rules," I felt, this is all right. I absolutely felt it, John David, when your dad and I worked on "Malcolm X." I'm very critical. I'm like everybody else, probably, very critical of myself. However, with "Malcolm X," I felt, I think we got something here.
So the short answer is, there's a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that is stronger than the potential of however anybody else will respond. My own internal feeling is bigger than that. And it's not about arrogance. It's just a feeling of accomplishment that one has done one's job.
SCOTT FEINBERG: I want to turn to Steven because, and obviously, give whatever answer you want, but I found in previously speaking with you that I got the sense that you felt probably as great about the movie, maybe, at the Sundance screening. At the end of it, maybe?
STEVEN YEUN: Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah, I think there's a lot of ways to define success like we said. And I agree with everybody, what Ben and Delroy have said so far.
But yeah, I mean, there's also external factors, I think, you know, for it. I think I deem success beyond just like the way that we try to understand it, through money or how many people have seen it. Just like has it reached its intended purpose? Like has the thing you're trying to say from the film like gone out and said it and have people received it?
And with this one, I'm still unpacking what the message overall is. But I know even in my kind of periphery, it's ultimately a connection. It's the humanity of seeing each other a little bit clearer.
And I sat next to my dad, like you're saying, I sat next my dad at Sundance. And I wasn't playing him, but there's a lot of ways in which I could never really access him because he also couldn't access me through a lot of reasons. And for me to be able to show that I understand him and I see him on a film at Sundance, on a huge projection, is insane. In front of hundreds of people. That's bonkers.
And yeah. That's success in its own right. So yeah, I agree, it's an internal process. And whatever is happening, and however that comes out, and as long as it lands, I deem that successful.
DELROY LINDO: You know what? Can I just add something? In terms of what you were saying, Ben, about when you were younger and the various criteria you would use to gauge success. And as I was listening, I'd be terrified of doing that. I'd be terrified of having all of these external measuring sticks because it feels like that's a setup for failure.
Because what happens if I do what I feel is really really good work and some external force, critic, whomever says, eh. Well, you know what? Fuck you. And I'd be terrified of bequeathing that much external power to external forces.
So it's got to be about how I feel, how the film made me feel, how my colleagues feel about what we've done.
BEN AFFLECK: The only external force that I find meaningful, it's interesting, as I'm reminded of "Malcolm X," as you guys are talking about it, it was such an important film to me as a young guy. It was the first time I ever saw a movie and walked out and thought, I want to be a better human being.
DELROY LINDO: Oh wow. Hey, have you ever told Spike that? Have you told Spike that?
BEN AFFLECK: Yeah. Well, I told Spike a lot of shit. I like to fuck with Spike and rarely give him compliments because he just gives me shit. But it's the truth. Yes, I have told him.
DELROY LINDO: OK.
BEN AFFLECK: It's one of the most important films to me, personally, because it changed the way I saw filmmaking and what films could do. What they could actually inspire.
And that's a goal so high that I don't even dare aspire to it. When people approach me and say a movie touched them in some way, that is meaningful to me. I am mindful that people are going to see it. And I hope it does resonate with them. So I'm not without any awareness of the fact that it's ultimately for people to see.
I just think the only way that, as you point out, I can survive the process and really try to do my best work is if I hold myself to my own standards, keep them high. And if I meet them, allow myself to feel OK about it. And if I don't, be honest with myself that I really came up short and I need to find a way to do better.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Let's go to Sascha.
SACHA BARON COHEN: Yeah, I mean, so I made two movies that came out this year, "Borat" and "Chicago Seven." I felt I had to make those movies. I felt I couldn't really--
So I stopped "Borat" to make "Chicago Seven." You know, there was a big debate in the production whether it was going to mean that we couldn't make our release date. I felt I couldn't look myself in the mirror on November the 4th if I didn't make "Borat" and "Chicago Seven."
You know, "Borat," and again, think about it, I'm turning to the crew, and the director, and a young Bulgarian actor and saying, listen, you are potentially risking getting arrested today. Or getting physically harmed. Or attacked or insulted. You know, there's going to be a reason why you're going through that.
I had to wear a bulletproof vest for two of the scenes. And the reason was I felt I had to get out of that movie before the election to highlight the President's misogyny, corruption, and the dangerous slide into authoritarianism. And also the danger in conspiracy theories and lies that were being spread by social media and by the government, which I think we saw the effect of that in the attack on Washington.
And then "Chicago Seven," I felt I had to make that as well because to me, it showed the importance of standing up to racism, to immorality, and police brutality. And I wanted to inspire people, to remind them of the power of peaceful protest. Which we've seen this year in the Black Lives Matter movement.
And that movie becomes more and more relevant. Even the the insurrection that we saw in Washington. Essentially, those, whatever we want to call them, that mob, were doing exactly what the Chicago Seven were tried for. They were crossing state lines to incite a riot, right, which is what the seven, or actually eight, of the Chicago Seven were were being tried for, wrongly. Because they were actually just going across state lines to peacefully protest an unjust war. That was a mob who were intentionally aiming to violently protest and overturn a democratically elected president.
So these were two movies, the success to me is that I could look at myself in the mirror November 4th and say, I did everything I could do as an actor, as a writer, as a comedian I could do for this point in time. You know, if I hadn't done those two movies, then I think I'd be in a difficult place now.
So that was the reason I did everything I could to come out of those two movies this year.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Yeah. John David.
JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON: I mean, everybody's pretty much said how I feel. I am thinking about the shoulders I'm standing on. Like a Delroy, Spike Lee, you know, a Denzel Washington. It's these kinds of films. What "Malcolm X," what "Glory" did for me. What "Crooklyn" does for me.
I won't be able to experience what success is for maybe another 20 years. So it's the kind of performance if I see this crazy dude in a movie called "The Professional." I'm like, who is this guy? And what De Niro does for me.
Like, if I can-- The way that made me feel makes me want to do this. If somebody tells me that in 20 some years and I'm like, OK, then I was successful. That was successful then.
But the immediate success, I guess, is the fact that I'm able to do what we get to do. I love what I do. and
We honestly just, we provide entertainment, a form of escapism or something you can relate to. And what we do, and people that are out there really fighting on the front lines fighting for equality, fighting for our right to be able to do this, to evolve in this industry and in the real world.
And if we can inspire them, then honestly, that is a success right now that I can measure. That someone and somebody like that resonated with something I said in a film, somebody said in a film.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Thanks Gary, can you close us out?
GARY OLDMAN: Yeah. Well, for me, it's mostly about the experience. It's in the-- I'm not so much concerned with the very end product.
I like the journey. I like the creative experience. I mean, John David, you're saying about success. I mean, I think Coppola said, success as an artist, he said, what is it? He said, it's lack of talent.
I mean, I think we're all-- You guys are talented. And as Ben was talking about earlier, there's a degree of luck in why we're sitting here talking to you, and and not others.
But I love the crew. I love my fellow actors. "Mank" was an amazing ensemble. And I just loved every day.
What better than waking up in the morning and going, God I'm really, well, the car here is early. Well, I'll go. I'll get in it. I'm early.
I want to get and see these people that I'm working with. I really, I wake up in the morning, I feel so blessed that I am in a career where I wake up in the morning and I want to go into work.
DELROY LINDO: Amen.
GARY OLDMAN: That is in itself, such a blessing. So working with those people. And, you know, this material is good sometimes. Sometimes you don't always-- you're not always hitting high. You don't hit them out of the park all the time. But more often than not, you'll always work with someone who's interesting, meet people.
We're, as actors, and maybe Sacha more than most, but I feel sometimes that I become like a detective. I'm an investigator. You know, I go off and find out about these people. And that's the other aspect of it that I love.
But just to wrap up. I first met John David, I was working with Denzel, and you were a football player then. A young, young football player then. And here you are. You've become this incredible, just the talent oozing out of your every pore. You've just become this great--
And I feel like we're all people-- we're like links in a chain. Sacha's saying, well he's got maybe a handful of movies. Well you've got, you know, I'm looking at the back nine now, but you're all just-- It's such a pleasure to just sit here and chat with you. I've got such respect.
And so we're links in a chain. You know, maybe Delroy and I we're a little more doing it longer and a little closer in age. But we're just kind of, we're handing off the baton.
So Steven and Sacha, and God bless you, Ben. You know, you're still, you're a young man. You've got it all ahead of you.
SCOTT FEINBERG: Well, I want to thank you for the great performances. And on behalf of the "Hollywood Reporter," thank you so much for making the time to do this. It's really an honor to have all of you. And I hope it wasn't too much of a grind. Really appreciate it.
SACHA BARON COHEN: No, a pleasure.
GARY OLDMAN: Fantastic.
SACHA BARON COHEN: Great to hang with you guys. Thank you so much.
DELROY LINDO: Likewise. Likewise.
SACHA BARON COHEN: You're great. I completely respect all of you. You're amazing.
DELROY LINDO: Hey, John David, tell V I said hey, hear?
JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON: Say who?
DELROY LINDO: Your dad. Tell V I said hey.
JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON: Yes, sir. Yeah, actually my cousin had been working with you in New Mexico.
DELROY LINDO: I just found that out, man. I just found out that-- yes, yes.
JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON: That's going to go great. So I'm looking forward to that, too.
DELROY LINDO: God bless y'all.
GARY OLDMAN: Please say hello to Denzel.
JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON: Yeah. Yeah.
SACHA BARON COHEN: Say hello to Denzel. I've never met him, but just say hello.
JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON: Yeah!
BEN AFFLECK: He probably wants to know I said hello, so just let him know. I'll tell you what, John David, you don't have to wait for anybody to tell you, man. You're as fucking good as anybody.
SACHA BARON COHEN: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
BEN AFFLECK: No fucking joke. For real. You are as good as anybody who does this, man. I am-- I am really blown away.
JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
BEN AFFLECK: And so all the best. All you guys, this is an honor.
DELROY LINDO: Since we're giving compliments, I just want to say, Steve. Talking about the silence, and one of the most devastating, devastatingly powerful. And this is not to say that other actors did not have wonderful moments, but I got to say man, in your film, when your wife, it looks as if you guys were going to break up. And it was a scene between the two of you all. And she talked. And the manner-- you didn't say anything. And I felt everything.
So just as an affirmation of the brilliant, brilliant, brilliant silences that you used. It was extraordinary, man. It was incredible.
STEVEN YEUN: Thank you very much.
GARY OLDMAN: That's a great alcoholic, Ben.
BEN AFFLECK: Tell you, a lot of research, Larry. You got to do your research in this business. You got work on it. You think I want to do all that drinking?
GARY OLDMAN: You know, it doesn't necessarily mean--
BEN AFFLECK: No, I agree, actually. There is this assumption that, like, the two don't necessarily go together, you know, like, the best airline pilots don't make the best airline pilots on TV. You know what I mean.
SACHA BARON COHEN: All right, I got to go. I'm so sorry
DELROY LINDO: I got to go, too.
SACHA BARON COHEN: All right. Stay safe everybody.