Q: Personally, I think that you had the toughest job in Ocean's
Eleven because you had to be so serious. Are casino owners really
like this? What was it like playing this character?
A: It was a lot of fun. The bad guys are fun characters to play,
especially when you are empowered with the dynamics of who this
person is in the context of our story. He's the owner of all this
wealth and power. He's known to be ruthless at times and that for
me was quite a challenge. There are lot of questions you can ask
about what makes him tick. How did he get to where he is? What kind
of person is he? What kind of person is he behind closed doors?
How does he get dressed in the morning? How obsessive he is about
everything. There was a lot to think about with this guy, Benedict.
It's a lot of fun to create a character with so many dimensions.
He was very complex. Here he is the owner of the biggest casinos
in Las Vegas. I'd say he'd have a lot on his mind.
A: Sure, and it was not just a question of words. It's just
a question that when you step out of a room in that character, it's
challenging to get to that point that when you step out and this
is your casino, you feel like you own the part.
He is put in a predicament, because the character that you play
is very much on his own against these eleven con men. Did you feel
this kind of separation on the set to stay in character, or was
the comraderie okay between all of you despite that?
A: Oh, it was very good. We all got along so well. If you own
your part and are ready to go you don't have to worry. You just
go to work, it takes a few seconds to focus and away you go. But
no, the comraderie was there. There was never an instance when anyone
said he's the bad guy, let's not talk to him. There's no need for
that. I think in the craft of acting, the more respect and love
that there is amongst the players in the ensemble, the closer that
you are to someone, the more supportive you are, thus the deeper
you can go in the antagonism. It's all layered with respect and
the first thing that they teach you as an acting student is trust.
They stand you up and say fall backwards and hope that someone is
going to catch you and that's basically where it all stems from.
If you know that there is love and respect between two people, then
in the course of a scene you can really push each others buttons.
Then, when the scene is over, you pat each other on the back. It's
How did you enjoy shooting in Vegas? Was it at all distracting for
any of you to be there?
A: No, not for me. Hey, those were my casinos so it empowered
me. Actually though, I am not a gambler. I played a little black
jack but that was about it. I had my family with me so when I wasn't
shooting I spent most of my time with them.
Did you model Benedict after anyone? Was there any one casino owner
that you looked at to put into this character?
A: No. Well, obviously Steve Wynn is someone who actually who
fits the description of an owner who owns three casinos, or did
at one time. I don't consider Steve Wynn like my character in terms
of personality, so I did not model Benedict after him although I
did use him for some research about casino owners in general. The
character was on the page, so between the script and imagination
I came up with the guy.
Why does everyone want to work with Steven Soderbergh? What makes
him so unique as a director?
A: Well, first of all he is very giving and very collaborative.
I think that he also has a consummate knowledge of film. He has
a very special point of view as an artist and a filmmaker and that's
really what makes him so unique.
You have your own production company now with a number of films
set to come out. One of them, The Man From Elysian Fields,
premiered recently at the Toronto Film Festival starring Mick Jagger.
How did you like working with him?
A: It was fantastic. He is the man! We got a long very well
and he's very funny in the movie, people just won't believe it.
My claim to fame is going to be being Mick Jagger's straight man!!!