OSCAR-WINNING ACTOR, ROCK STAR, 42
Growing up around hippies and drug addicts made me the actor I am today. As a kid I was surrounded by hippies in a commune in the forest. We certainly weren’t thinking of awards shows. But as I grew older I knew that I wanted to do something that used my imagination. I had no concept of the word ‘fame’, or any notion of success or money. You have to do what is important to you and protect that. My mom [Constance] always made sure my brother, Shannon, and I had everything we needed and made sure that we understood that what we want we must go out and get. [She] and Shannon are my rocks. My mom taught me to dream, work hard and follow my heart. Shannon is my best friend and it is the best thing to know that you’ll always have someone who will never give up [on you] and always have your back. I’m an art-school dropout. But really, I just wanted to be a creative person who could make things, and that hasn’t changed, but I discovered both acting and music to be things I felt expressed a part of me. I am a performer. There are always going to be people who don’t like you. There will always be those who go, ‘F--k that guy, he shouldn’t make music, he makes movies’ – that’s a bizarre attitude. I just follow my gut. As Andy Warhol said: ‘Labels are for cans, not people.’ I didn’t realise it had been so long since I was in a movie. I hadn’t read any scripts so I don’t know if there were any interesting ones around. I was busy with [our band] Thirty Seconds to Mars. Much to my surprise and the surprise of many others, our band really worked. We never thought any of this would happen the way it has.
‘I want to be part of things that are meaningful and rewarding’
It’s something you don’t even dare dream about, because the conceit of that dream wouldn’t even feel right.You do what you do and hope only that it feeds your soul. Who really cares what anyone has to say? Being able to travel and play in all these different places in the world and meeting so many people is a blessing. It’s quite [weird], because sometimes I am in a country where I think that not many would show up for a show, only to find the concert has been sold out. As a performer, it’s important to look the part, so I try to do what’s best for the show. Professionally, I don’t necessarily have to adhere to a certain dress code. However, I think that comfort is crucial. Otherwise, you won’t be able to have fun and express yourself. Whether I’m directing, or acting in a film, or standing on stage, it really comes from the same place. It’s creative problem-solving; making something and sharing it with people. Starring on [’90s TV show] My So-Called Life was great for me: playing such an ordinary but complex person on a hit show led me to method acting and doing small films. You’re not just putting your work into them, you’re pouring your heart and soul into them. And when they don’t meet expectations, it can break your heart and your spirit. I have never been in a hurry to make a film just to work. I want to be part of things that are meaningful and rewarding. The industry is a pool of lessons and battles. I enjoy my life but Hollywood can take you for a ride – the cameras can sometimes distract you from what’s really going on. Critics have slowed down on their criticism. It’s funny how after winning a big award [an Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in Dallas Buyers Club], people pay more attention or give you more of a chance. I work hard and that is all I really care about.