Justin Theroux has sat on the sidelines long enough. A relatively new kid on the block, Theroux has quickly built a resume playing supporting roles in movies such as I Shot Andy Warhol and American Psycho. Tired of minor roles, Theroux has now hustled his way into the lead of Mulholland Drive, a new film directed by David Lynch. Theroux took a few minutes to talk with The Hatchet and lament his luck and new success in the movie industry.
The most common question posed to Theroux since he started doing interviews about his new film is: what was it like working with director David Lynch? People expect Lynch to be strange and a recluse because his movies are so bizarre, but appearances aren’t always what they seem.
“It was wonderful working with David,” said Theroux, as he sat in his Four Seasons hotel room dressed all in black to match his plastic-rimmed glasses and dyed black hair, smoking cigarettes he rolled himself. “Working with him was almost completely ordinary in a wonderful way.”
If there’s one thing Lynch isn’t known for, it’s being ordinary. But Theroux saw his choice to take the male lead in Lynch’s newest film as a no-brainer.
“I would have played a tree stump for Lynch,” he said.
After years studying theater in New York and performing in supporting roles, Theroux is a long way from tree-stump status. Theroux admitted that most of his roles are dark and mysterious, adding that they are more complex than most.
“I feel more comfortable in character roles,” he said.
In Mulholland Drive Theroux plays Adam, a young, new director who is ready to make his big break. His character is faced with a tough decision: whether or not to “sell out.” The reaction to the film has been “fabulous” and the film earned a standing ovation at the Cannes film festival.
Theroux said he accepts whatever roles that come his way.
“I think character actors do most of the heavy lifting,” he said. “Only a handful of leading parts are really that complex.”
Theroux described Mulholland Drive as a film that skirts along “the fringe of the Hollywood dream,” where a weak-minded woman tries to make it big in an unforgiving and nightmarish Hollywood.
A New Yorker born and raised in D.C., Theroux hold cynicism about the Hollywood glitz and glamour. He said some people who want to “make it” in Hollywood are aiming for the wrong kind of success.
“There are some people who believe if they just go to Hollywood they will just be discovered and they’ll just be a star,” he said. “Actors who go to New York want to be good. This doesn’t exist at all in L.A.”
Theroux is used to playing slightly off-kilter roles but seemed particularly excited about his role in Muholland Drive. He was cryptic in his description of the film but did offer a few words to quench fans’ curiosity about his new endeavors.
“It’s like Nancy Drew on LSD,” Theroux said.
Muholland Drive is in theaters Friday.