I have been a fan of Justin Kirk’s for a long time, so when an opportunity to interview him came my way, I immediately said, “Yes, please!” And he did not disappoint, as you’ll see below.
Justin is in a new film set in Paris called “Last Love,” in which he plays the son of Sir Michael Caine and the brother of Gillian Anderson.
It’s a bittersweet movie about an elderly American man named Matthew (yes, an American in Paris) who becomes lost in his grief when his wife dies. By chance, Matthew meets a young woman (played by Clémence Poésy), and they develop an unlikely friendship that changes both of their lives, as well as the life of Justin’s character, Miles.
Definitely a flick for grown-ups, “Last Love” was written and directed by Sandra Nettelbeck based on a novel by Francoise Dorner. It also has a lovely score by Hans Zimmer.
You’ll remember Justin from “Weeds,” and he recently played opposite a monkey named Crystal in the ill-fated sitcom, “Animal Practice.” He has stayed busy since then with other films and TV guest appearances on shows like “Modern Family.” He also frequently does stage work, including a stint on Broadway in 2012 with Stockard Channing in the celebrated play, “Other Desert Cities.”
What follows are some of the best moments from our interview.
Who’s the most challenging costar – Crystal or Michael Caine?
Well, they have more similarities than you’d think. They both can work for 14 hours at a stretch and still be as sharp at the end of the day as they were in the beginning.
Oh my gosh, a horrible joke just came to my mind that I won’t repeat.
All right – I won’t beg you to tell me.
But I love both of them, and I miss them both dearly. And I guess ideally, the next great project would be some sort of three-hander – myself, Michael Caine, and Crystal the monkey. Maybe it’s a series; maybe it’s a road movie.
A road movie would be fantastic.
That’s probably more likely…. That monkey is going stronger than ever. She just did an episode of “Ray Donovan.” She just killed it; it was so funny….
Tell me how “Last Love” came to you.
I got the call and an offer, and I read it. And you know, it’s Michael Caine. I had to go do it. I start every time I get a job with, “Ah! I can’t do that!” But this one flipped around pretty quick once I really thought about it.
Really? Why do you think you do that?
Why do I do that? I don’t know. I guess I’m like, “Oh, I’d rather sit here on my couch and catch up on my shows.” I guess if I ever believed in going to a therapist again, I’d ask them. But why ask why?
But no, this one seemed like something I absolutely had to do, and I’m glad I did.
Well, it’s a really sweet film. I really enjoyed watching it.
I did, too! I just watched it. I Amazon-instant-video’d it because it’ll be in theaters in two days, I guess, but you don’t want to show up at your own movie. Maybe for the premiere, but not at, like, the mall. That’s a little weird.
I was really pleased. It’s so great to do something a couple years ago, and you’re off in Paris and Brussels and Cologne [where the film was shot]. And all of a sudden, then they put it all together, and it looks great. And you go, “Oh, sh**, look at that! I’m in a movie with Michael Caine!”
Yeah, I guess that would be surreal. Then, two years later, you’ve got to try to remember it all and talk to other people about it.
And then, you have a day where you’re on the phone for a few hours with lovely people talking about it. Luckily, like I said, I just watched it.
So, that helps to bring back some of it, I’m sure. When you were preparing for it, did you have time to work with Michael on building a relationship, or did you just have to do all of that inner work on your own?
I think maybe Clémence and I, when I got to town, read through our scenes once, but for the most part, they’d already started when I got there. And, you know, it’s just a father and son being pissed at each other. That’s not that hard. So, you show up on the day and look at Michael Caine in the face and start saying those lines, and it all sort of cooks along.
So, do you do a back story?
A little bit. There was some of it in the script. It depends on the job how much they provide for you.
Michael Caine is pretty famous for his acting instruction…
You know, I forgot about that. I’m so glad you brought this up. I think I watched the video, and I remembered some particular tidbits from it. And I remembered thinking if I was going to try it on the day with him.
But if the rest of the question was did he extend that to the work, no, he did not try to direct me or give me anything to do. Just being with the man on the day is instruction enough.
So, what did you learn?
I learned some great stories about old Hollywood over a couple drinks in the hotel bar. I’m sure more than that, too, but when you’re acting, it’s hard to remember exactly what’s transpiring there. Sometimes, that’s when it’s going the best.
I assume he gives you a lot [in a scene].
Yeah! You just hope to show up and be present, and look at each other. And there’s Michael Caine. That’s all you need.
This is a question you’re probably going to hate. I’ll just preface it with that.
I can’t wait for this.
I was reading an interview with Michael Caine from a few years ago, and he said that his 3 favorite actors are Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy and the French actor Jean Gabin. So, if I ask you that question, of course Michael Caine has to be one of them. Otherwise, you’d be in the dog house.
But who would the other 2 be off the top of your head.
Well, it’s weird. I believe in great acting more than great actors. It’s amazing when great acting happens. You watch something, and you see some 8-year-old kid giving some crazy performance. But the actor that I’m super into right now is a guy named Mark Rylance who’s mostly a theater actor.
Oh, I know who that is.
Yeah? I just came home from New York yesterday, and I was lucky enough to see the two Shakespeare plays – “Twelfth Night” and “Richard III” in rep [on Broadway] – and that was pretty exciting. So, he’s someone I definitely look to for inspiration these days.
Let’s see, if I have one more, I’d say Stephen Colbert.
Okay, interesting. Diversity – I like it! And what kinds of characters have you not done yet that you’d like to do?
My favorite thing about being an actor is that you get a call about going to do something, and you never in a million years dreamed you would have been doing that. I never thought I was going to have a monkey sidekick. I never thought I would play Michael Caine’s son in something. The last interview I did reminded me that I just played the Green Lantern in the new animated Justice League movie. I certainly didn’t see that coming.
So, I don’t really have things that I’m trying to make happen or wish or, “Boy, I wish I could play this character or this quality or something.” The fun thing is the stuff you didn’t see coming and then, trying to find your way into it.
So, you’re a “ride the wave” kind of guy?
It sure sounds like I am, doesn’t it? I guess so.
What else is coming up?
I just did a television pilot called “Tyrant” for FX. I just got back from New York from doing an episode of “The Blacklist” – a hot new show. Speaking of actors I wanted to work with, that was a no-brainer. I’d been watching it because Spader is one of the guys who definitely since I was younger [I wanted to work with], so that was exciting to go be a bad guy with him. That’s going to be on in a couple weeks.
“Last Love” opens in theaters Fri., Nov. 1, 2013 and is already available on Amazon Instant Video. Check out the trailer below.