The actor, 52, on painting on set, playing Marlon Brando and working with his teenage crush
I’m a fixer. I like solutions. Life is a whiteboard, basically.
When I had my first child I sold my motorcycle. I realised the amount of heavy lifting, literally, that you do with kids and thought I’d need both legs and both arms.
I paint as well as act. My art is similar in style to my acting – improvisational. I often paint on set and then feverishly try and scrape buckets of paint off my fingers before filming.
My character in Curfew drives a 1970s camper van that’s been transformed into a tiki bar filled with drugs and cocktails. He was the most fun to play, part John Wayne, part Bill Murray, a bit of Hunter S Thompson. Sort of myself but heightened… and on acid.
If I could go back to one era, it would be New York in 1999, because it was a period of great hope and promise. There was a booming economy and a lot of optimism in the air. It was a good time.
The best advice I was ever given was: “Be of service.” There’s a word from my Greek ancestors, philotimo, which essentially means focus on the benefit of others and the tide will lift you.
Playing villains has been a lot of fun and very lucrative, but I really want to make the white-hat hero more attractive to young audiences. I think the post-modern anti-hero has contributed to a lack of moral high ground in our culture.
When I was a teenager I had a complete infatuation with Nastassja Kinski. Then I got to work with her. I felt like Aladdin with the magic lamp – how many more of these wishes have I got? Because you don’t want to waste them.
Fashion is important. I always say, pull from the canon of classic cinema and the archetypes that resonate with you and then put a modern twist on it. Throw a little street on top of a classic look: Cary Grant’s suit from Bringing Up Baby but with some vintage Jordan high-tops.
I never mind when people yell: “Listen to your friend Billy Zane, he’s a cool dude” at me. It’s a hell of a quote [from Zoolander] and complimentary. Plus, it tempers all the Titanic responses where they yell: “You’re the asshole, I hate you.”
My worst habit is social smoking. I can put the cigarette down for months, but then I give in. I’m a bit of a pushover.
If I was giving advice, I’d say there are no problems, only solutions. That, or dress for success.