Eric Matheny took some time to sit down and share with us what he has been working on lately, as well as other actors he has worked with and would love to work with one day. He also told us about the moment of clarity when he first decided that acting was what he wanted to do with his life. We started the interview by talking about Eric’s latest project a film called Freedom for Joe.
Can you tell us a little about your part?
“Freedom for Joe is a movie about an arrogant football guy who ends up getting into an accident and has a near fatal injury and has to re-examine his life. I play a physical therapist at the rehab hospital where he begins to have visions of what his life could be like if he wasn’t such an arrogant prick. I helped him come to terms with his new condition and also why and how he got there.”
Eric is in the cast of Clint Eastwood’s hit movie, J Edgar. We asked him what it was like to work with Clint, wondering if he is more like Dirty Harry on the set or more like Robert from Bridges of Madison County. In a nutshell, Eric says that “Clint Eastwood is a little scary like Dirty Harry, but has the sensibilities and emotional impact of Robert from Bridges of Madison County.”
He shared more about working with Clint:
“I see Clint as more a David Hockney or Picaso or a Republican Andy Warhol. He’s got such an artistic sense in the end. Such a blue-collar method. He’s got a real down to earth, in the trenches viewpoint about working with actors and directors, the camera, cinematographers and the lighting. He’s part of the whole equation. He’s part of the group. He’s not set apart from it, although he’s the boss! Everyone on the set calls him boss. He’s clearly the boss, not that he doesn’t have that leadership position, but he’s also not so ‘ivory tower.’ He’s down there walking the set, looking at the lights, coming up with ideas, taking ideas from other people and it seems very much like he’s just one of the team except he has that added factor of being the genius with the whole thing in his head. He doesn’t storyboard, he keeps it all in his head and he has every shot planned.”
Eric has played in lots of TV dramas such as CSI, CSI Miami, and Bones. We asked him which of these would he like to be a regular on if he could, and he responded:
“I like Bones a lot. I think Bones is a good show in a sense that it does a nice job in mixing the humor with the drama. And also there’s this running love story. What I love about Bones is that they really have this funny chemistry of poking at each other and that sort of schoolyard romance game thing going and I think it’s lovely. And it’s nice to have a show that balances all those things so well. So I guess at this point I’d have to pick Bones for sure.”
Given that he has had the opportunity to act on both TV and the big screen, we asked Eric if he has a preference, and what his goals are for the future.
“I really like characters and stories that matter to me. So it’s not really the medium. I mean I probably would frankly act in a shoebox if I really believed in the story or the character. I don’t really have a medium prejudice. There are some really astonishing things going on in television right now that rival films. From Boardwalk Empire to what Breaking Bad did. There’s so many shows on television where you’re just like, whoa that’s mind-blowingly good that I don’t think there’s a line anymore. There used to be a line where people who did commercials couldn’t do anything else. Or people who did television couldn’t break into movies. And that whole line is blurring.”
“I love acting. It’s the thing that taught me everything else. I think one of the things that makes a great actor is constantly learning and searching because essentially as an actor you have to create a synthetic life and there’s so much about life that I don’t know that I’m constantly studying and learning and reaching for more information about people and humanity. So I don’t think there is anything that would stop me from acting. It’s pretty much what I love to do. However, in the process of that I’ve certainly learned a lot about writing and I wrote a few screenplays. I actually just finished a screenplay called ‘Watershed’. So yes, to some degree I’ll be producing and writing and directing.”
For fun, we asked Eric if he could work with anyone in Hollywood who would it be?
“I’d have to say Philip Seymour Hoffman. I am such an admirer of his work and his commitment and his ability to immerse himself in characters. And he has a theater company in New York and I have an acting school and am starting a theater here in LA, and I share that in common with him .That love of theater and working with new actors.”
In wrapping up our interview with Eric, we asked him about what initially drew him to acting. As a high school student he experienced an “aha” moment, which he describes below:
“My mom suggested taking an acting class in high school. I got on stage and I just experienced one of those ‘luck of the draw’ moments where I experienced what it would be like to really think like and feel like and see the world like another person other than myself. And I thought oh, that’s fascinating. What an amazing thing to live one life and have at the end of it having lived 150 or 200.”
We appreciate that Eric Matheny took the time to speak with us and encourage readers to check him out in J Edgar. Photo by permission of Integrated PR.