I worry his head is going to explode. He answers questions with questions. Doors open onto more doors. This sometimes leads to trouble with scripts: Since he sees every character's point of view, he often needs some sort of distillation. The catch is that unless the distillation somehow encompasses every character's essence, it only causes his imagination to fire more wildly. It's the kaleidoscope-vision thing.
Some people can have the ocean in front of them and just put their big toe in. Rob wants to swim until he drowns, and he's going to try to drink it all up before he goes under. His striving is a source of worry because he can't really tell anybody he wants more: "Please don't make this about me complaining. Please. I'm the luckiest bastard on the planet." He worries he might be selfish. He worries maybe he's a nonhumanist-separatist-weirdo because his most profound moments have been with his dog. And he worries about whether he can be an actor who can reach the masses and still ask for anything.
"If it exists out there—this invisible-creative-spirit-idea thing—then you're the medium through which it travels so everybody can touch it. But . . . what gives you the right to be the medium? What gives you the right to claim it? And then get an agent and say I want $20 million and a fruit basket to be the medium, thank you very much.
"As an actor, you can elevate the human condition or cheapen it. I would assume it's the same with anything you do—you try to elevate and maybe someday you will." An actor may indeed have the ability to raise us, but Rob unconsciously starts speaking sotto voce each time he utters the word actor or any variation of it.
Rob, did you know that every time you say actor or acting you lower your voice to a whisper?
He's genuinely startled. "I do?"
Yes, so quietly it's like you're saying Negro.
He laughs, lightens up. "What if we were 'acting' like 'Negroes'? Then we'd be fucked—we couldn't hear anything. . . ."
BEER NO. 4
Rob asks the waiter for another beer. He's talking about an uncle who worked in a steel mill in the Yorkshire town his dad grew up in. Rob's father and his other uncles moved away as soon as they were old enough, but the eldest brother stayed there his whole life.
"They're bulldozing houses, whole streets of houses. And my dad asked him, 'Why stay?' He said, 'Who's going to look after our mom?' And I was just thinking, Jesus fucking Christ, there might be something wrong with my emotional sight, because I'm not sure if I could make that kind of sacrifice. The only emotional connection of relevance is with my dog. My relationship with my dog, it's ridiculous.
"I think you need to be able to break through what you think about yourself to try to make any sort of art. I used to play music all the time, and the most amazing part was the freedom that came with kicking myself in the ass, letting go, and surprising myself."
He tried to let go a little bit with the photo shoot accompanying this interview—it wasn't easy.
"I really hate vaginas. I'm allergic to vagina. But I can't say I had no idea, because it was a 12-hour shoot, so you kind of get the picture that these women are going to stay naked after, like, five or six hours. But I wasn't exactly prepared. I had no idea what to say to these girls. Thank God I was hungover."