I've learned it's important not to limit yourself. You can do whatever you really love to do, no matter what it is.
I always wanted to entertain. When I was 6, a scrawny, scrawny kid, I'd get in my red speedo and do muscle moves. I actually thought I was muscular. I didn't know everyone was laughing at me.
You know how sometimes department stores have these things where, if you win, you get 10 minutes and go in and take anything you want from the store? That's basically what I'm doing. I'm running in and just trying to grab as many characters as possible before they pull the plug on me.
It's nice to be around people that have a sense of the world around them, that are, in general, more conscious and conscientious. It was important for me to get an outside look at America even though I grew up in Canada, it's an incredible country and I love it, but it's so close. It's like being too close to a Monet or something. You have to move back. Going to New Zealand helped me to get a read on this place that the whole world was obsessed with.
I also think that something interesting comes out when you do something that you're afraid of, so I try to take things that I'm not sure that I can do. And this was certainly one of them. I didn't feel like I was right for this at all, and I wondered how to find truth in a fairy tale.
For now, I'm just going to keep doing the work and hope I don't get fired. If people want to put me up on their walls, I'll love it.
I think American news is pretty tragic in general. I can't tell the difference between "Entertainment Tonight" (1981) and the news. It's all about ratings. They are trying to sum it all up pretty quickly and try to act as if they understand it.
The theme for me is love and the lack of it. We all want that and we don't know how to get it, and everything we do is some kind of attempt to capture it for ourselves.
I understand the studios, in the sense that if they're going to spend $100 million on a film, they want to make sure they're gonna get that back . . . but I don't know how to guarantee you you're going to make that money back, and I'm uncomfortable working with those kind of numbers.
There is this idea in Hollywood, and I've seen it work for people, where the unspoken rule is 'Do two for them and one for yourself.' And that's kind of considered a fact. I've never really found that to be true for me. I've gotten more opportunities out of working on things I believed in than I ever did on things that weren't special to me.
All my characters are me. I'm not a good enough actor to become a character. I hear about actors who become the role and I think 'I wonder what that feels like'. Because for me, they're all me. I relate to these characters because aspects of their personality are like me. And I just turn up the parts of myself that are them and turn down the parts that aren't.
(On this acting hero) Gene Wilder is my Marlon Brando. Gene Wilder will break your heart and make you laugh at the same time. And that's deep. There's something really profound about what he's able to do. It's transcendent. It's everything. He gives you everything at once and you have to decide what you feel about it.
I mean, God bless The Notebook (2004), it introduced me to one of the great loves (Rachel McAdams) of my life. But, people do Rachel and me a disservice by assuming we were anything like the people in that movie. Rachel and my love story is a hell of a lot more romantic than that.
[on working on independent films] - Not to discriminate against budgets, I feel that independent films tend to ask more questions and don't pretend to know as much as the bigger films, which tend to think they know everything.
I don't really like doing interviews because I don't have any answers about why I act. It's like a compulsion. It's like people who eat and eat and eat and they don't know why and they keep getting fatter but they can't stop. It's like that.... And then you find yourself on a set throwing yourself off a bridge, and you're asking yourself, 'Why am I doing this?' And I don't know.
I try not to make too many movies. I get sick of myself, so I can imagine how everyone else feels.
[on "Blue Valentine"] In most movies you spend so much time looking for any scraps of truth, and in this movie you're just marinating in it.
[After Blue Valentine (2010)] I had to go to the doctor for a physical and when I left he gave me a prescription. he wrote, 'Do a comedy'.
[on 'Drive' director Nicolas Winding Refn] I don't think that Nicolas believes that art and entertainment are mutually exclusive. He doesn't limit himself. If he were a baseball player, it's like he walks up to the plate [and] points out a home run before he swings. He may not hit a home run, but that's the only thing he's hoping for. He's got guts. And also, he loves exploitation films and genre movies as well as art films.
[on choosing film roles] There's always those 'Blair Witch Projects' that haunt you. The idea that you could make a little movie, and you could make it the way you want to make it, and people will still want to see it. People will want to see it for what it is, not for the way it's marketed.
I always wanted to make a violent John Hughes movie. I love John Hughes movies. I love 'Pretty in Pink'. But I always thought if there were head-smashing in it it'd be a better movie.
[on 'Drive'] I guess I wanted to make a superhero movie, but all the good ones were taken. This was the opportunity to create one.
The writing was on the wall when I saw 'Rocky' for the first time. I went and picked a fight right afterwards and got my ass kicked. The movies took me into their dream.
[on working with directors Derek Cianfrance and Nicolas Winding Refn] I found my guys I got a team I know. We're just getting started.
[on the possibility of directing] You can't act forever. Some people manage, but they're the marathon runners. You have a shelf life as an actor, so you have to find another way to express yourself.
[on being recognized in public] You just have to hang out in places that are more interesting than you are. It has a weird effect on people. The experience of recognizing you puts them into some kind of trance where they think they know you but they don't. They start sharing with you, and it gives you this intimacy that's very rare.
[on Drive (2011) director Nicolas Winding Refn] I was very ill, and we were sitting there not really able to communicate. He looks at me with tears in his eyes, and he starts singing at the top of his lungs and hitting his knees, and he says, 'I know what this movie is, it's a movie about a guy who drives around listening to pop music because it's the only way he can feel.'