by Anthony Kaufman

The thesp may have played a movie director in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, but with Dedication, his feature debut starring Billy Crudup and Mandy Moore, Theroux tackled the role in real life. “For me, directing was the next most interesting thing that I could challenge myself with,” he says. “But it was more like going from painting to photography as opposed to some quantum leap.” While Theroux admits he often thought about going behind the camera (“all the bad directors make you want to direct,” he says), it wasn’t until Plum Pictures offered him David Bromberg’s script that he forged ahead. “If I can bring anything to it,” Theroux says of directing, “I can bring a shorthand with the actors and coddle them the way I would want to be.” From working with Lynch, Theroux tried to channel the famous auteur’s sense of calm on set in order to shield the actors from the pressures of time. But it didn’t always work out that way, he admits. “Cut to our 19th day when I’m screaming, ‘We have 10 minutes to get the fucking shot,’ and Billy (Crudup) is smirking at me, saying, ‘This is the mellow environment you wanted?'”