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Exclusive: The Strange, Sensible World Of Justin Theroux

This is an all-important weekend in the career of Justin
. When his directorial debut, Dedication, hits theaters in
New York and Los Angeles today,
the actor who starred in David Lynch’s landmark Mulholland Dr.
and Inland Empire will be nervous. That’s because the film
about a screwed up, mentally poisoned children’s book author (Billy Crudup) who
is forced to work with a new collaborator (Mandy Moore) isn’t just close to
Theroux’s heart. Theroux lived that
character, breathed life into that character. In fact, you just might say the Henry character is indeed Theroux
himself. Here, Theroux talks
passionately about his baby.

HG: There were a variety of scripts the producers had and you
chose Dedication. What was wrong with the others?

JT: They weren’t that great and didn’t interest me. One was about a bunch of kids who get snowed
in at an airport or something. (Shakes his head.) Dedication had what I really wanted bad.

HG: So what did you want? 

JT: When I read this, I felt I could attach myself to it
emotionally. I learned from acting that
there’s nothing worse than getting a role that you don’t want to play. God, it’s so boring. But I like Dedication except the character
wasn’t quite as dark in the original version. But I made him much darker.

HG: What in the original script was too light for you? 

JT: The character was just an asshole, and he had no reason
for being an asshole. So I gave him a
psychology, a reason for being so polluted. I basically went through and gave him obstacles, hung heavy chains on
him, you know? I didn’t want him to be
fickle. I didn’t want him to ask
himself, Do I want to get married. I
just wanted him to be dark.

HG: New York City is a dark character in the film, too.

JT: I wanted to do New York from Henry’s point of view. I wanted to show New York when it’s f—-in’ quiet on
Christmas, that kind of thing. I didn’t
want to do New York
as a bustling place with brownstones. It’s more Hopper-ish than Woody Allen-ish. It’s downtown, not Upper
West Side. I really don’t
like to go above 14th Street in New York. It’s a
different world uptown, one that I could never become used to.

HG: How did you choose Mandy Moore for the role of Lucy and
Billy Cruddup for Henry? 

JT: People thought that Mandy didn’t make much sense. When the meeting was set up, I didn’t know
what to think going into it. But when I
had the meeting, that was it. I knew she
would be prefect for it. I felt it in my
gut. I adored her. She was a very centered, normal person and
centered was what I needed for this character.

Billy and I have been friends for years. He was really the only person who could have
played Henry.  

HG: Billy Crudup’s Henry is a writer of children’s books,
and this, among other things, plagues him. You’re somewhat like Henry yourself, right?

JT: My family is full of writers. But I don’t think I can do the long form.
With the attention span I have, I can do screenplays. I have ADD and I was kind
of a special needs child. So I think I
am that person that Billy plays. I have
similar character traits, although I’m not mean. But the anti-social aspects, the bizarre
personal proclivities, the ticks, I have them all. I’m not mean like Henry,

HG: You had two weeks of rehearsals, which is a pretty long
time for a three week plus shoot like Dedication.

JT: I wanted to have two weeks for rehearsals, and that’s
something I brought from acting on the stage. I felt it was essential. The rehearsals brought the sense of rhythm
and music to a scene. I got that my work
on the stage as well. There’s a
cadence, a movement in a scene that you get from rehearsing. 

HG: What are your favorite movies?

JT: I like the French directors. I loved Blue
. It blew mind mind that there was this movie which opened up a world
for me that I knew nothing about. I love
Raise The Red Lantern by Yimou Zhang
and La Dolce Vita which showed me a
whole world that I was missing, a deep world.

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