The 30th Annual Film Independent Spirit Awards took place on Feb. 21, 2015, at the beach in Santa Monica, Calif. Here is what this Spirit Award winner said backstage in the Spirit Awards press room.
Best Supporting Male
When you first read the “Whiplash” script, did you recognize right away that you could really nail and bring a tremendous amount to this role?
I did. I recognized it was great and that it was a good fit. It was the ideal combination that I’m always looking for.
What’s the secret to having a long-lasting marriage?
Love. Just paying attention to each other, being there for each other, as we both try to be. There are ups and downs. You try to limit the downs.
What’s the most romantic thing you’ve done for her recently?
[He smiles.] I don’t think I’m going to answer that question.
Was there a coach or mentor in your life who was like your “Whiplash” character Terence Fletcher?
Fortunately not. No.
Now that you’ve been winning all these awards for “Whiplash,” has that changed the kinds of parts you’re being offered?
I don’t know if it’s affected the kinds of parts as it’s affected the volume. There have been a lot of intriguing things coming along, both little indies and big studio movies too. I’m trying to find the balance between and finding the right opportunities in both.
Since you played a teacher in “Whiplash,” what do you think about the state of today’s education?
I think there are unfortunate inconsistencies. There are school systems that are suffering greatly; funding is a problem but not the only problem. And I certainly think there are many, many institutions that continue to do a brilliant job.
Did your musical background on Broadway help you to prepare for your “Whiplash” role as a music teacher?
Yeah, having a musical background was huge for both Miles [Teller, “Whiplash” co-star] and myself. Obviously, Damien [Chazelle, writer/director of “Whiplash”] has a musical background as well. That was a big part of what they brought to this.
When fans see you on the street, are they now terrified of you?
Sometimes, yes, which I enjoy.
What was your process of inhabiting the character of Terence Fletcher?
I just tried to do what Damien wrote, because it was so clear and concise and thorough and mature that Miles and I and Melissa and Paul and Nate — all 42 of us — felt we had to lift it off the page to the best of our ability.
In life, what’s the bravest thing you’ve done?
I don’t know. This part [in “Whiplash”]. No, this took no bravery at all. I dove into a river after a guy who was drowning. We both lived.
Where are you going to put your Spirit Award?
Right now, there is an embarrassingly large collection of them that are sitting on top of a mini-fridge in our bathroom. I can’t lie.
For more info: Spirit Awards website
RELATED LINKS ON zoomdune.com:
Spirit Award interviews