James Marsden flew into the city just the night before his new Hollywood film’s premiere at a multiplex here. His co-star, Michelle Monaghan, on the other hand, came on Sunday (October 26).
“I didn’t have to [come early]; I wanted to. My husband and I have been doing a lot of sightseeing, eating and shopping,” she grins. What about the kids? “They aren’t here; that’s why it’s fun,” she laughs, as Marsden starts guffawing too.
The co-stars — who spent most of this interview laughing and completing each other’s answers — tell us about their similar career paths, and why they’re looking beyond the big screen.
It isn’t often that Hollywoodactors come here to promote films. Does this one have an Indian connect?
Michelle (M): No, we don’t know much about Indian cinema. But we’re here to learn.
James (J): I don’t even know much about American films. I don’t know any Indian celebrities either. I’ve worked with Kal Penn once, but that’s about it.
You’re paired together for the first time in The Best Of Me. Have you worked together before?
J: No, it’s the first time.
Not even bumped into each other at parties or premieres?
J: I could name hundreds of other people who I share that sort of acquaintance with, but no, our paths never crossed.
But your path in Hollywood has been similar. You both started off on TV, and recently returned to it with 30 Rock (James) and True Detective (Michelle). Is the small screen attracting more Hollywood stars, then?
M: Absolutely. You just want good material. I’m not really too greedy or a snob, like James says. You have to find something you connect with.
Why do you have to be a snob about the medium?
J: What I meant is that there’s no snobbery about picking one medium over the other. It doesn’t exist any more, though.
M: Sometimes, there’s a stigma attached to doing TV.
But if you do a show full-time, you’ll have less time for movies.
J: As I grow older, I want to spend more time with my kids. So, if you pick a show that shoots in your hometown, it’s great. But quality is the top priority. It doesn’t matter what size the screen is.
M ichelle, you returned to TV after a long time. Did you notice changes in the way the industry functions?
M: Earlier, I did Boston Public, which was network television, where we worked with a different director every week. True Detective had one director for eight episodes. So, it felt like a really long movie.
Do you seek new challenges after doing so many films?
M: I’d like to try theatre one day. I think it would be challenging, but very fulfilling, creatively.
J: I hope I can muster the courage and lifestyle to do it. It’s so rewarding to be with a live audience and have no safety net.
James, you could even do a musical. Why don’t you sing more often?
J: Usually, you don’t have to do much to get me to sing, but there’s not a tonne of musical opportunities in our films.
What’s the best part about being an actor?
J: Being able to be different people in different situations, and being part of a collaborative effort to make a story that can move people. When I watch something and get inspired or emotional, I feel like I too want to provide that feeling to someone else.
M: I couldn’t have put it any better…
You also get to learn many skills along the way, like driving a truck (she did so for the film Trucker; 2008).
M: (Laughs) And I actually did it again too. I was on a film set, and I asked one of the transport guys if I could drive the truck just for fun, and I did.
James, what’s next for Cyclops (his character in the X-Men franchise)? A lot of fans feel that the character has got a raw deal.
J: I don’t know what’s going on with it, but it’s hard for me to feel anything but gratitude that I was part of it. There are so many characters crammed into those movies in two hours. With stories dating back to 1963, you could do a film on every character.
Would you do a Cyclops movie?
J: Absolutely. It’s been fun, but I don’t know what’s going on right now.