– . – Actor – John C. Reilly
Actor – John C. Reilly
Having starred in everything from big-budget blockbusters to knockabout comedies and musicals, John C. Reilly is now playing an unlikely romantic lead in Cyrus. But, as the actor explains, story and character remain at the heart of everything he does.
Despite having two decades of on-screen experience, John C. Reilly is not by his own admission traditional romantic lead material. “It is fun to be the guy who gets the girl,” the actor smiles about his latest film, Cyrus, which sees him play the divorced John, who finds the woman of his dreams in Molly (Marisa Tomei), only to have his chance of happiness put under threat by Molly’s bizarrely behaved adult son Cyrus (Jonah Hill).
“I like the fact that he has got to a place in his life where he has nothing to lose. He’s been divorced for seven years, he has been in an emotional spiral and then there is a jump-start when his ex-wife tells him she is getting married, and that shocks him into action. He puts himself out there one more time. “He is a more mature character than I have played recently,” Reilly laughs. “He is slightly different from some of the more broad ‘man-child’ characters I have been playing recently!”
Reilly is, of course, talking about the likes of country music spoof Walk Hard, in which he “had to play from 14 to 60,” and Will Ferrell comedy Step Brothers, which saw the actor “channelling my inner 12 year-old.” But Reilly’s repertoire goes way beyond excellent comedic timing; he has also revealed himself to be a powerful dramatic actor in films like Magnolia, The Good Girl and Chicago, for which he received an Oscar nomination. But, whatever the genre, Reilly maintains that his criteria for picking projects remains the same.
“I used to base it totally on the character,” he reveals. “I still think about the character a lot, because the truth is [that] there is so little you can control as an actor, and because film is a director’s medium. Beyond that, I look for people who are inspired and have a vision. A good sign is something that happened on [Cyrus]; someone offers me a part and says, ‘You are the only person I can see playing this part’. Now that means I fit into their vision. I am more interested in films that are going to utilise my unique gifts. [But] money matters! A dignified pay-out is where there is something for me to do and they happen to have some money to pay me. Those are few and far between!”
Reilly’s desire to work with dedicated people has seen him get involved in the debut features of many directors, and Cyrus marks the first big project for writing/directing team Jay and Mark Duplass. “Everyone starts out as a first-time director,” the actor says of his willingness to embrace new talent. “I worked with Paul Thomas Anderson when he was a first-time director [on 1996’s Hard Eight]. I worked with Rob Marshall on his first feature [Chicago]. I think every movie is its own artistic enterprise and you are inventing the rules for that adventure as you go along. But to their credit [the Duplass brothers] made the film The Puffy Chair for 10 or 15 thousand dollars. That’s the way they learned to make movies. There were quite a lot of moments on the set [of Cyrus] when people would say, ‘The way it’s done is like this…’ but they stuck to their guns and said, ‘That may be the way it’s done elsewhere but we are going to shoot for an hour and then Mark and I are going to walk around for 20 minutes and talk about what we just did and then we are going to take the next organic step in the storytelling’. And it works for them.