Ed’s jour­ney: from sta­dium to cinema

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - Live - - ENTERTAINMENT - Navneet Vyasan

With two Golden Globe awards for his roles in Game Change (2012) and The Tru­man Show (1998), and four Os­car nom­i­na­tions, Ed Harris is among the top ac­tors in Hol­ly­wood to­day. An ath­lete in high school, Harris never meant to be an ac­tor, but with four decades of fac­ing the cam­era, he has proved that this is his true gift. We catch up with the West­world star to talk about his career, how he chooses his roles, his ap­proach to act­ing, and much more. You were a star ath­lete in high school. So, how did you get into act­ing? I played foot­ball and base­ball in Columbia Univer­sity in New York City. I was work­ing out for the next sea­son, and I felt like I just wasn’t in­ter­ested in it any­more. Then, I hap­pened to watch a play, and the ac­tor in it was so good, and I could see him hav­ing such a good time. That’s when I felt like maybe I could do that. So at 21, I started study­ing act­ing.

I grad­u­ated from a col­lege in Cal­i­for­nia in 1975 and I prob­a­bly did about 14 plays in the next three to four years in a lo­cal the­atre in Los An­ge­les. I did all kinds of plays; it was a great learn­ing ground. And then it was kind of an ac­ci­dent when I met an agent and started au­di­tion­ing for TV. Film roles started com­ing along af­ter that, so it was re­ally a grad­ual process. How do you choose your roles?

There are var­i­ous rea­sons — some­times I play a char­ac­ter be­cause I find it to be fas­ci­nat­ing, and some­times it is a direc­tor who has a re­ally strong vi­sion and would like me to be a part of the film. But mostly, it is an in­stinct; a response to the ma­te­rial. Some­times, hon­estly, it is just a fi­nan­cial con­sid­er­a­tion. But I’ve al­ways pur­sued cre­atively ful­fill­ing roles. Has your ap­proach changed over the years? I’m not sure if it has changed or not. But, I re­mem­ber when I was younger, when I had my daugh­ter, there were times when I did not want to go to shoots, be­cause it would be for three-four months some­where far away. Some­times I would not be able to be around her. So I did make cer­tain creative de­ci­sions based on just want­ing to be a present dad. How did di­rect­ing hap­pen?

When I started work­ing on Pollock (2000), I wasn’t in­ter­ested in di­rect­ing. I was re­ally in­ter­ested in play­ing the char­ac­ter and I had worked on the film for a decade. A month be­fore film­ing, when I was work­ing on the script and meet­ing peo­ple for fi­nanc­ing, I re­alised that I did not want to hand over this project to any­one else. I wanted to direct it my­self, and that’s what I did. The last film you di­rected was Ap­paloosa (2008). Do you have any plans to direct again? Yes, but I haven’t found a project that has in­ter­ested me af­ter Ap­paloosa (soon to air on Sony PIX). There were cer­tain things that I was in­ter­ested in, but other peo­ple had the rights. I read a book in 2015 called The Plough­men, which is a novel that takes place in Mon­tana, US. I bought the rights and adapted it and I hope to start film­ing this Au­gust and Septem­ber.

It is a very in­ter­est­ing story and my wife and Robert Du­vall are as­so­ci­ated with it, so that is ex­cit­ing. I love di­rect­ing and I can’t be­lieve it has been 10 years since I have di­rected.

I hap­pened to watch a play, and the ac­tor in it was so good, and I could see him hav­ing such a good time. That’s when I felt like maybe I could do that. ED HARRIS AC­TOR

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

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