Q: What happened during those lost years?
A: I behaved so badly, people didn't trust me. It was never about the acting with me, it was about losing trust. So I did boxing for five and a half years in Miami. And then seven or eight years went by and then I hoped I'd work as an actor again. I think I wasn't ready to give up. I remember being on a set and the director said to me, 'Well you'll never be a movie star again. But you, you're a good actor. You can work here and there.' And I was like, 'Screw you and the horse you rode in on.' But then, at night, I would think, 'Maybe he's right.'
Q: People are calling this your comeback.
A: 'Come back' is two words. If you look that up in the dictionary, you can be coming back from lunch, coming back from losing both legs in Iraq, coming back from a great night with a sexy lady. I mean, it's gotta be defined. The comeback thing has been a process for me over the last 13 years of having to realize that I had to change. I didn't want to change, but I had to.
Q: What have you learned along the way?
A: After I got out of the Actor's Studio I was naive and I thought it was supposed to be all about the work, not about how you can be a movie star because you look a certain way and you know how to handle yourself talking at an office or a dinner party. But I don't expect everybody to forgive me for being a son of bitch or unpredictable, undependable or irresponsible. The only way you can change is you got to look in the mirror and go, you know, 'It's your fault.'
Q: Now there's a lot of that Oscar buzz surrounding your performance.
A: To me it's about every time Darren would say to me 'Do it again. I want you to bring it.' Every time he wanted me to put in another hour here, another week there — just all the hard work. But I realize it's political. You can be Joe Blow and get an Academy Award. I'm OK with that because that's the way it is. I tried to beat the system and it kicked my ass.
Q: How do you feel about this moment in your life and your career?
A: It feels like the clouds have lifted after you're in the dark for so many years and by yourself. But the only way you can grow is by yourself. There's always going to be that part of me that goes, 'Man, I could mess this up like that.' That's what I'm afraid of. But I don't think that's going to happen again.