The one that, if I’m sitting on the couch and it comes on, I can’t turn away — The Bourne movies. I will watch them a million times, and any time they’re on, which is often [laughs], I gotta watch them. I just loved that character. I thought it was so fascinating and, honestly, that’s the kind of part that I would love to play one day. So, I love watching it and watching the way Matt Damon played it. It’s just so exciting, to me. I don’t know why, but I can’t get enough of it. I think there is a little bit of… just the escapism of it all – running through the streets of Germany or all the different cities that he went to and trying to figure out who you are is really cool. It’s just a cool conceit.
The movie that I always watch before doing just about any project — and certainly before doing this one — is called Nothing But A Man. It’s a classic film. Ivan Dixon played the lead character and it’s just about this black man trying to make his way through the world. But it’s a beautiful, beautiful film, and it breaks my heart every time I watch it. It’s just one of the most extraordinary movies I’ve ever seen. I was introduced to it by a friend of mine; I was doing a play — probably eight or nine years ago — and my friend, Aunjanue Ellis, who is an actress, put me on to it and I had not seen it before. Now I watch it all the time. It’s great – I think it was in the 1960s. Ivan Dixon and Abbey Lincoln -– it just was super. An incredible film.
And then kind of parallel to [Nothing but a Man] — number three would probably be my most favorite romance, Paris Blues. Sidney Poitier, Diahann Carroll, Paul Newman, and Joanne Woodward. I love it. The dialogue in that film is some of the best I’ve ever seen. And Sidney Poitier, I think, gives one of his best performances. And it’s so, so sexy, that movie.
RT: Yeah, that’s right, it’s been so long since I’ve seen it. And Paul Newman – I remember several of the films he was in that way, actually, as well. I was like, “Man, I feel too young to watch this.”
[Laughing] Yeah. He’s got these scenes where he’s in the bedroom with his shirt off, and you can just see it. I mean, he was such a heartthrob, you know. You can just see the filmmaker thinking, “We have to get a shot of Paul Newman with his shirt off [laughing].” And they got a few of them.
RT: We’re not made of stone. The filmmaker was right.
For some reason, there’s another movie that I really love, that always breaks my heart and makes me cry, every time I watch it, and that’s the animated movie Up.
RT: Oh, my God, yes. We could have a whole therapy session about that movie.
Yes, absolutely. Just the opening sequence is, like… I can’t even get through that without breaking down. It’s so beautiful.
RT: That movie made me really happy for 3D glasses because it covered my tears.
Yeah. That’s hilarious. I know what you mean with those 3D glasses. One of the first times I saw it, I was on a date and, I mean, you talk about trying to hide some tears? I was trying to maintain my cool, but I could not do it. It was such a beautiful movie.
RT: Do you think that made the date go better, because it made you so emotionally vulnerable?
I think it did, actually, because, as I recall, she was crying a lot, too, and I think it definitely put us both into a good, nice, open, vulnerable place. And it’s funny — where I live in New York, there’s a coffee shop around the corner from me that I go to all the time, basically, and in going to it, there’s a guy who I would always see there, and we would always talk and chat. Someone said, “Oh, yeah, you know he’s a writer and he used to be an actor,” and blah, blah, blah. I didn’t know his work, I’m ashamed to say, but, at the end of Up when the name Tom McCarthy flashed across, I thought, “Wait a minute! That’s the dude from the coffee shop.” I guess I was living under a rock that I didn’t know who he was. But anyway, I just was even more of a fan of his. He’s such a talented man.
Number five — this is a tough one. I think the one I would like to say, though, is one — when I was a kid, this is the one that I watched all the time. I had it on VHS tape and probably wore the tape out – I know just about every line from the movie. I don’t know why I loved it so much, but the movie Oliver. The musical version. The Lionel Bart one. Ron Moody was the guy that played Fagin. Growing up, we never went to the movies. I grew up in a pretty rural town in Alabama, and we just never went, and so our big excitement for the weekend would be to go to the video store and… We also didn’t have a VCR, but you could, back in the day, rent a VCR. So, we would rent a VCR, and for some reason, we owned the movie. We owned two movies; we owned Oliver and we owned The Wiz. Whenever we would rent the VCR, we would watch the movies that we rented, but then, because we had the VCR, we’d always end up playing Oliver and The Wiz again. I think that’s probably why I fell in love with it. And then, ironically, it wound up being the first play that I ever did in community theatre. Although I’m [also] obsessed with The Wiz. It terrified me, as a kid. That was gonna be the other one I was gonna say. It was either Oliver or The Wiz, but The Wiz is just amazing.
Moonlight is now open in limited release.