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My Night at the Riviera Maya Film Fest Premiere of 'Night Moves' with Peter Sarsgaard, Anxiety and a Jewel Heist

Photo of Ryan Lattanzio By Ryan Lattanzio | TOH! March 11, 2014 at 3:19PM

From a jungle on the beach in Quintana Roo blooms the Riviera Maya Film Festival. Now in the mid-swing of its third year, the fest opened with Kelly Reichardt's "Night Moves." In attendance was star Peter Sarsgaard, who came down to the peninsula with wife Maggie Gyllenhaal on his birthday and charmed the international press at a conference earlier in the day.
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'Night Moves'
'Night Moves'

Sarsgaard on the anxiety of acting:

Acting takes a toll on actors. A lot of people think the want to be an actor. It is very nice and we are frequently very well paid and you get to go to wonderful places like this. But if you go like this for long enough, you will feel sad, and if you pretend to kill people all the time in movies, you'll be accessing a part of yourself that doesn't feel very comfortable. Even if you pretend to fall in love with a beautiful woman in a movie, you might fall in love with that woman and then have to go int your life. Acting takes a toll. Look at Heath. It has taken a toll with a lot of people in more subtle ways so my advice, always, is take care of yourself as you do it.

On advice for Jesse Eisenberg, about to play Lex Luthor in "Batman vs. Superman":

I have a lot of advice for Jesse Eisenberg. A lot of great artists work with anxiety, anxiety is part of what fuels them, they're looking for relief from their anxiety, they're looking to express their anxiety, Jesse is not just an actor, he's a playwright, I've seen his work. He writes pieces in The New Yorker that I find very funny. Jesse works from a place of intense anxiety. I work from a place of intense anxiety, as many of us actors do. My advice to him in playing a villain, in a comic book movie, would be to entertain the teenager in you, to put a young version of you next to the camera and make sure that he's having a good time, and make sure that you're having a good time. I had more fun doing "The Green Lantern" than a lot of other movies. You should make sure the young version of yourself has fun. These films are for young people.

On balancing work and home life:

My wife is also an actor and I think that makes life a lot easier. The way that we work, with my wife being an actor also, is that when she works, the whole family goes with her, including me, as long as I'm not working -- and I try not to be working. When I work, the family doesn't go with me. So frequently I don't have my family around me when I'm working. There's no home to go back to. I go back to my hotel and being the only person, there's no one to share it with.

On accessing the darker parts of yourself as an actor:

I was raised Catholic and taught by Jesuits. I was an altar boy. I remember from a very early age, really being interested in trying to understand the evil parts of life, and understanding them as parts of life. I was very much influenced by the words of Christ. It was a big deal to me when I was a kid. So I considered people who do bad things part of the fold. I looked for the part of myself that wanted to do bad things, so that stuff was not difficult to me. It's just a part of reality. But if you're supposed to be having the love affair of your life in the movie, at the end of the day it's a lot harder to let that go than it is if you've killed ten people. That's easy not to bring home; it's much harder to let go of positive feelings than negative ones. At least for me, and I've played a lot of very violent people, and I think I've been in touch with violence.

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This article is related to: Riviera Maya Film Festival, Night Moves, Kelly Reichardt, Kelly Reichardt, Peter Sarsgaard, Festivals, Cinedigm


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.