That worried me greatly, but having Gladiator coming up was the best thing I could do, because I probably forced the issue, didn't I? I probably could have waddled around in the alleyway for years, going, "Excuse me, do you want to hire a fat guy?" But I didn't do that--we got back down to it.
Funnily enough, mate, the diet is actually a secondary consideration. It's being physically active. I live on a working farm, I've got 560 acres, 270 Angus cows and hundreds of kilometers of fencing to do--or that's what it feels like, anyway. So, I just got back involved with my normal life, you know?
But also, I did weights, and I did some roadwork and all that. What was important to me with Maximus was that it wasn't a fucking plastic figurine that we were looking at. I wanted a bloke that was real. He's a beast, you know? So, I just made sure that every single thing that Maximus could do I could do. And the body went with it.
You're lucky your body goes with anything, the way you smoke. Weren't you paying attention during The Insider?
I started smoking when I was 10. My dad was the manager of a pub, and I was dead certain as a kid that one of those packets on the wall had something other than cigarettes in it. So, I had one of each one until I found out I was wrong, but by then it was too late.
But the fact that I could go through a project like that and haven't quit is an indication of the power of this addictive drug. It's not necessarily that I'm stupid--although I will admit to that in a variety of areas.
Your parents eventually became movie-set caterers, and that's how you got interested in acting, right?
Yeah, I think so. But a lot of it also had to do with the fact that I'm very shy. I've met a lot of people in this business who, like myself, are very shy and private on the one hand, but on the other hand have an overwhelming desire to perform.
That said, are you still playing guitar?
Yes. I've been at it since 1984. My band [30 Odd Food of Grunts] goes to Austin, Texas, in July and August, and we record a new album, which is going to be called Bastard Life or Clarity. I think it's a choice we all have.
Now, presumably, you have more choices than ever as an actor. What's your agenda these days?
Well, I never set out to be a movie star. I'm just an actor, and I've got to follow the instincts that drive that. It's just doing the things that appeal to me, and I've got a very eclectic taste mechanism.
So, up next are Proof of Life, with Meg Ryan, and Flora Plum for Jodie Foster. Aren't you some kind of freak-show beast in the latter?
Yeah, I'm going to look pretty ghastly, just like when I come home from a late night out.