You once attributed your aversion to doing TV to “snobbery.” Is it safe to assume that’s changed?
That’s true. And I think a lot of actors used to be that way. What happened, I think, is that American television completely stepped up. American television in general really elevated itself to the point where film actors just wanted to do it because that’s where a lot of the good drama was being made. So, yeah, I had a ridiculous kind of snobbery in regards to television that has completely vanished. I used to think: On one hand it’s good for the employment, but on the other it’s not really as good as the other stuff. And I think it’s changed now. If you get a shot at doing something that’s fun, quite dramatic—and it’s like you get to do a little film every eight days or 10 days. Although it’s much harder work than film, I think it’s as valid and I think it’s as satisfying—if not, at times, a lot more.
One of the issues with episodic TV is that there’s a chance you could miss out on other opportunities. Has that been the case?
Yeah, it has happened, and it’s the price you pay. It was something I was worried about when I went into this, but it’s just the price you pay. I’m reconciled with it. But I have a window where I can do stuff and I try and plug a film in there. And if we get cancelled then it’s back to square one. [Laughs.] My take on it is just to do the best you can possibly do with what you’ve got. So if you can come away from it and hold your head up, you’re all right.
Do you think you would have felt that way at the start of your career?
Yeah, you’re right. I’ve got 25, 30 years in now, being an actor. I wonder if I would have panicked if this had come earlier. But my feeling is that it wouldn’t have come earlier. If you look around at the kinds of guys who are stepping into TV shows, there tends to be someone in the cast around my age. And they go after you at this point. They wanted a film actor. Sam Baum, the creator of the show, said, “Let’s get somebody in who’s a film actor. Sod it, let’s go after him.” And they did. They came after me like gangbusters. Took them a while to get me. [Laughs.] I didn’t know if I was ready. But as soon as I made the decision, I went in 100 percent—which you have to do. You can’t be half-assed about it.
You named two of your sons after your favorite authors, Hunter S. Thompson and Cormac McCarthy. Would that make you resistant to being in a Cormac McCarthy adaptation if one came up?
Maybe it would ruin his allure? I’ve love to do it. Love to. There’s one I’d actually like to direct—I would love to direct Blood Meridian. I was given that by Brian Dennehy years ago when I worked with him. He said, “You should have a look at this.” That’s what got me started on Cormac McCarthy, actually. There’s another one, Suttree, which I think would make a great film too, but I think they’ve all been snapped up now, obviously, since the Coens got in there. They do a fantastic job of rendering his stuff. So I don’t know what the possibilities of that would be. I’d love to act in one too, but I don’t know where I’d fit in, really.