The British actor is Oscar-nominated for his portrayal of a noble lawyer in Michael Clayton
Your character fought for what was right, but many thought he was mentally unstable. How were you able to relate to him?
I didn't assume he was crazy. I assumed that he suddenly felt that he understood something he hadn't understood before and he wanted to let the world know. So he would have thought of himself as ultra-sane. I thought that was the best way to approach it rather than to do crazy acting.
Are you looking forward to the Oscars?
I've been there once before, and it's a little bit stressful. I guess I am, though, because I'm kind of a fan. It's nice to see all those really famous people close-up without ever considering that one is a famous person oneself.
Which new projects are you most excited about?
All of them. None of them were turn-down-able. The first to come out is the [HBO] miniseries John Adams. That's going to be top rate.
You play Ben Franklin. Is that a dream role?
I don't know. He's famous, right? [Laughs.] I got to be bald, which I haven't done before. It's a good character to play, so it's dreamy in that sense. The thing about playing somebody who's long dead is, the only job you really have to do is look a little like the guy on the $100 bill.
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