That's a lot to give up.
When you've got a conventional script, no matter how much you try not to recognize it, you know that there's a goal at the end of each scene, right? You know that you're trying to reach a certain spot so that it makes sense for the next to make sense. Whereas when you're doing a film like you are with Terry, there is no goal in each scene, it's "see what happens" and then he's going to put all the pieces together far more like a piece of music than the conventional film.
So, no, very different. Just character descriptions given. We read The Moviegoer and the kind of journey that that character's on. Other than that, the whole point was never to get stuck in a rut. The minute that [Malick] saw that even one line was kind of being repeated in a way that it looked like the actor had sort of nailed it and felt happy with themselves that they were doing a good job, then that was the death of it for him and he would say, "Move on," or just don't say anything, be completely silent. That can be fine as well, he would be delighted with it.
Did the experience remind you of working as a kid? You were 13 years old when you worked with Steven Spielberg on Empire of the Sun. Maybe you relied more on a director back then.
No. I think that children do have a very naturally gifted ability for acting and then it all gets marked up when they start to kind of think about, "Oh, you did a good job, you did a bad job." That's when it becomes bad, when you start to evaluate yourself.
Did that happen to you?
Oh, I've been through every bloody one and I've had hundreds of times when I've said, "That's it, I'm done. I'm never going to do this again. I'm going to find something else. Stuff it."
What movie made you feel that way?
It's always like that. It's always a roller coaster of love/hate because you feel about it. It's not just a regular job, it's a passion and it should be, so therefore, sometimes you're actually depressed as hell about it and you make a crap film or somebody promises you something and then they don't come through with it at all, or you make a film that has bits that are good but other bits that are dumb. Then occasionally, "Whoa, Holy Grail!" and you actually get a film that you're really proud of. That happens quite rarely, but you're always in search of that. It's like an addiction.