I was in Australia. I had wrapped "The Great Gatsby." I had gone to see my friend who's a doctor and he goes out and does country visits. And I was sitting in a car and he was tending to this old lady who had an accident. It came on the radio. I turned it up. I had missed the speech and all that. I was sitting to this stuff for a while listening to it and it was like, "Oh my god." It was a profound moment, especially when you sit there and consider it. It had gone down not long before and here it was, bouncing around the world, and somebody was dead.
You also recently worked with Terrence Malick. What was that like?
Well, I did two Malick films. I did "Knight of Cups" and "The Green Blade Rises" [which Malick produced]. "Knight of Cups" is the one with Christian Bale. Look, 'Green Blade' Terrence had been working on that for a while, like twenty years. And A.J. Edwards, who directed it, shoots all the second unit stuff for Terry's films and edits them. It's about Abe Lincoln as a 9-year-old and his father and his two mothers, because his mother died when he was very young. What fascinated him and what fascinates me is how a little boy in the middle nowhere, who was barefoot with nothing and a stern puritanical father, became the leader that he did. The education, the moral gravitas, and the leadership of this kid… and you find out. It comes from your roots.
And what was "Knight of Cups" like?
It was just hilarious! Well Terry is a guy where you get 20 pages of dialogue, this extraordinarily in-depth dialogue, and then you'll learn it and try and shoot it. But Terry's not after anything that's ordained or set up. He's creating an environment where he just wants to capture something that's alive.
Are you in it enough that you can't be cut out of it?
You never know with Terrence Malick. I remember when I told Jess, she said, "Just so you know, you might not end up in the film." There were so many people coming in and out and he's out there doing his thing. There's a craziness and a wonderfulness and a freedom but he's got great motives and aspirations. He's interested in pursuing things.
And you're in "White House Down."
Yep. I've got two broken ribs to show for it. I'm the guy who rushes in and takes over the White House. It was so fun. I love Roland Emmerich. He does those films like no one else. We had a ball. I get a knock-down, drag-out, ugly-ugly-ugly fight with Channing Tatum. It really hurt. And Channing is a lovely guy. He's been brought up well, he works his ass off. I just saw "Magic Mike." The dude can dance, man! He can dance! I had no idea. When we were working he was getting ready for a wrestling film so he was really in shape. I'd send the stunt guy in to wear him out a little bit. But man, he can move.
Did you get to use any of your training on "White House Down"?
A little bit. It's there and it helps. But it's a completely different film. Roland's style and movement; you're going there to be entertained in a serious way. It's big and it goes bigger and it keeps going. I got to drive a Cadillac into the pool of the White House.
"Zero Dark Thirty" is in wide release this weekend.