In which of the many movies that you have made did you feel that you learned the most about acting from the director?
Matt:Every single one has been a big learning experience. Coppola, who directed “The Rainmaker,” came from the theater. He did a lot of big productions in college. So he had an incredible understanding of actors. When you would turn up at work in the morning, he would gather the actors in a circle and do acting exercises. I’ve never seen a film director do that since. But it’s a huge part of his whole process.
It’s breaking you down and getting you to leave your ego aside. It makes you a part of the group, allows you to embarrass yourself in front of your colleagues in a way that turns the whole day into something really playful. There’s just this implicit support of risk-taking among the artists.
What is good for you about playing a hero? A villain?
Well it’s more liberating to play a villain because you can really do anything you want. It gives you more of a chance to play. As the hero in a movie, you do have to keep the audience in mind. You can’t lose them. They need to know why you're doing what you're doing because your job is to hold their hand through the story.
I always thought of myself as a character actor, and the leading man stuff doesn't come as naturally to me. While they’re letting me do it, I’ll do it as long as I can. But I’m really hoping I’ll end up as just a character actor again.
If you were not allowed to act, and were able to do your working life over again, what career might you consider?
I’d direct. And still write too. There’s so much overlap in all those jobs, that I’d still do something to do with filmmaking.
Is there any actor/actress you would like to work with but haven’t yet?
There’s a ton. Tom Hardy I think is really interesting in everything he does. I’d love to do something with him. I’m about to work with Alicia Vikander for the Bourne movie, which I’m really excited about. And Tommy Lee Jones is in that too. He directed me in a cable TV movie 21 years ago, but I haven’t really hung out with him since then. But he’s as good as anybody working, so I’m looking forward to that too.
DEADLINE: Sandra Bullock did it in Gravity, Tom Hanks in Cast Away and Will Smith in I Am Legend, but not every actor is watchable for long periods, by themselves. How did you know he would be?
SCOTT: His body of work. I’ve watched everything he’s done and he’s a very thinking actor and he never does anything just because he thinks it’s going to be commercial. Story is as important to him as it is with me. I always say my plan is, there is no plan. I read something and say, wow, I like that, and if I can get it, I’ll do it. Matt’s body of work has been so seamless that I knew he could handle it.