It was incredible, really. And I really mean that. Not least because it was Steven Spielberg but also the thing with him is that he has the resources at his disposal to recreate 1865. There were no blue screens up; it was all there. So as an actor you're constantly having to fake or creep into a fake environment and make it feel real. This was the opposite, it was a very real environment that you had to assimilate and live and breathe within. Then you have an actor like Daniel Day-Lewis who just embodies Lincoln in such a complete way. It was the equivalent, to me, of stepping into a time machine. It was so exciting.
What were your favorite movies from this year?
"Argo" is a big favorite of mine. I thought Ben Affleck did a stupendous job of doing a film that was thought provoking, funny, full of suspense. I thought it was a very complete movie. And you factor in these performances that range from the intensely dramatic to the very, very funny. I thought the marriage of all of those things in a period film was an incredible feat.
You were also in "The Paperboy" this year. Did you know how nuts that was going to be while you were making it?
Well what I'm always looking for as an actor are journeys that are as different from the last one as possible. "The Paperboy" was certainly that. I was being offered the role that I had never been offered before. And Lee Daniels helped craft that role for me. It was a white journalist initially and we made it this thing that was completely other. What I love about Lee is that he will always challenge your preconceptions as an actor and as an audience. I always believe that you need to place yourself in as many scary and unforeseen situations as possible in order to keep pushing the audience. Lee will just not allow you to dwell or sit in your comfort zone. Anyone who watches that film will see those actors play things that we've never played before.
It was antithetical to "The Paperboy." "The Butler" is a love letter to America. It's sort of "Forrest Gump"-esque in its scale, in the nature of its characters. It's Lee Daniels doing a PG-13 movie for a start. It was completely different. What was wonderful for me was, alongside Forrest Whitaker I am front and center. Any director who will come along and believe in you enough to continue to work with you and trust you, that is what you are looking for. And he has definitely afforded you that opportunity.
Word on the street is that Christopher McQuarrie will do the next "Mission: Impossible." Has he talked to you about being a part of that?
I'd go anywhere to work with Chris and or Tom again. It was so amazing. And I truly mean that. It was an education to be around them. Chris' brain for cinematic storytelling is so vast. That was just amazing to be around. And Tom, as an undoubted movie star but a brilliant actor, is something that I loved being around. If Chris asked me to jump on board, there would be very little thinking time.