When I was 16 I made my first film called The Bay Boy. We shot the film in Nova Scotia and I remember checking into the Holiday Inn, unpacking my toiletries and looking at myself in the mirror. A crooked smile came across my face and I remember this moment as: my life just started. Because I was paying for this room – my parents had nothing to do with it any more. I was on my own and I remember it as the most exciting moment of my life so far.
Maybe this isn’t what I was supposed to do.
That night the cast ate together in this Chinese restaurant, all sitting round a big table, people asking me what I thought about stuff, taking me seriously; this was so great. Then at the end of the evening I opened my fortune cookie and it said, ‘Go home’. Literally to this day I wonder if I was supposed to go home that day. Maybe this isn’t what I was supposed to do. It’s always made me laugh. It’s like, no matter how good something seems to be, nothing comes free. You’ll always have to pay a little.
I have incredible respect for my mother. She’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. But she’s probably the only person I’ve ever been scared of, and she was only five feet two. But she was just a really tough lady. I have a twin sister and I think she felt the same way. It was my mother’s way, ‘You are not special, confront the stuff you have to deal with and get on with it.’ She certainly wasn’t a coddler.
When I look back on my life, and the things I was capable of, going out on my own at 16 – and I never went home again – that was because of the way she raised us. So I tip my hat to her for that and I’m incredibly grateful, and she knows it. I don’t want to sound like I don’t love my mum. I love her enormously. But she didn’t respect you just because you were her kid. You had to work for it.
Growing up, I didn’t have much contact with my father. And I couldn’t go to the movie theatre to see M*A*S*H, 1900 or Fellini’sCasanova – they were adult films. When I was 18 they started bringing out video tapes and I watched his films. They were extraordinary. M*A*S*H, Ordinary People and 1900 freaked me out. Fellini’s Casanova was just such an avant-garde performance. The one I liked best, what’s it called, the red coat movie… Don’t Look Now.
I actually cried on the phone, I was so embarrassed,
I called him up and I actually cried on the phone, I was so embarrassed I didn’t know what an important actor he was. And I considered myself a serious actor. So that was very embarrassing and I apologised for that and he was so sweet, he said: ‘Oh my God, that’s okay, it’s not your fault, how would you know?’