by Scott Dally
FILM FEVER 2001

Justin Theroux stars in David Lynch’s latest film, Mulholland Drive. Justin portrays Adam Kesher, a film director who is feeling pressure to cast an actress he does not want in his latest film.

Justin started his acting career in many off-Broadway plays, prior to the beginning of his film career. His first film was Mary Harron’s I Shot Andy Warhol. He later worked with Mary Harron again in her film American Psycho. He can also be seen this year in Ben Stiller’s Zoolander as the Evil DJ.

Our phone conversation was very early, 5:30 AM to be exact. He was calling me from his home in New York City. Our chat was brief, yet informative. He was extremely friendly and easy-going and I hope I can talk with him again soon.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me this morning, Justin.

Thanks a lot, Scott. They are doing construction on my roof, so please forgive any excess noise.

Not a problem. So how did you get involved in Mulholland Drive?

Mulholland Drive was, as I’m sure you know, to be a television show. David (Lynch, the director) saw a head shot of mine and then flew me in from New York and began to ask me a bunch of questions on camera and taped it all on videotape as my audition. It turned out to be the easiest, most difficult job to get.

Did the idea of an ABC series pique your interest?

Yeah, it really did, because I knew it was going to be a David Lynch thing, so it totally piqued my interest. Then once I knew it was going to be a series I was fortunate because he (Lynch) is such a wonderful guy. I was more eager for it to become a regular thing.

Were you a fan of Twin Peaks?

I actually wasn’t at the time, I was in boarding school during Twin Peaks, but I went back and watched all the episodes once I got the job (on Mulholland Drive).

How would you best describe your character in Mulholland Drive, Adam?

I would say he is a flawed guy, you know, some sort of good guy gone wrong. He just ends up making bad choices in what he does.

Did David (Lynch) give you any special hints or advice along the way on being a director?

No, not really. The first question I asked was, “Is he (Adam) a direct extension of you?” David said he wanted me to make him my own.

Being in a David Lynch film must have been quite a thrill, tell me about your experience with him?

He was a really calm guy, very spiritual, really down to earth. He had a very calming presence on the set, which was really encouraging. Very gentle one on one with everybody, not just actors but everyone on set. The props people, the extras, and so on. David is one of those guys with just a good vibe.

What were your first impressions of the script?

I really didn’t know what the hell it was about at all. [Laughter] I was lost. I did know what it was about after we saw the film. He (David Lynch) is really good at not giving you any direction as to where your character is going. Much like life, in that you don’t know where you are going to end up an hour and a half from now, and in the same sense none of us knew where our characters were going.

A lot of the audience is going to walk away from this brilliant film scratching their heads. What are your thoughts on the perception people will have of Mulholland Drive?

My thoughts are that people will come away with a skewed perception, and it will be a film that people will want to return to, ’cause there is a story there, and people will want that, they will want to go back and dig through it all.

You had a fight scene with Billy Ray Cyrus.

I know it. The highlight of my career.

I’ll bet that was something you never thought you would ever experience.

Yeah, you’re right. Plus, he’s a pretty big guy, he kicked my butt. Got hit a lot, but a great guy. We had fun.

Where do you see your acting career 10 years from now?

I have no idea. I just take the jobs as I get them. Hopefully still working.

Do you have any acting influences?

Acting influences? Ummm, my friends and the people I work with. I just learn as I go.

What’s next for you?

Ummm, let’s see. I’m starting a project with Ben Stiller, I am also working with Mary Harron (director of American Psycho) and a play or two.

Looks like that’s all I have, Justin. I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me this morning.

It was a pleasure, thank you, Scott.