You have said previously that when you were growing up you were always in turmoil and full of anxiety. Did that fuel your desire to channel those emotions or that intensity into your work?
It’s very complicated, but I was extremely vulnerable growing up. I expected other people to behave kindly and rationally, and I discovered that the world isn’t like that.
That realization took all the joy out of life for me, and it was hard for me to make friends and be sociable because I was always afraid of saying the wrong thing in a way that would make people angry with me or have a bad impression of me. I was also very restless inside and I couldn’t find the right way to express myself.
Was acting your way out of that dilemma?
Acting was the only thing that helped me release the anxiety and tension that had built up inside me. It also helped me understand what makes people tick. But it still took some time before I was able to really relax more inside and not have that disturbing kind of energy inside me. It’s all so much easier for me now.
Assassin’s Creed is a huge Hollywood movie. In the past you’ve said you’ve turned down big studio films because you didn’t a deep enough connection to the story?
What I said was that in the case of some big films that I was offered I didn’t feel that the director was really interested in the characters and that it was more a technical process. I need a director to inspire me and push me beyond my limits so I know that I won’t be comfortable working with a director who is more interested in creating a spectacular visual landscape but doesn’t really care about working with the actors who inhabit that landscape.
What is it about Assassin’s Creed that made you want to do this kind of a blockbuster?
Assassin’s Creed is very different. I know both Justin and Michael very well because of the intense time we spent working on Macbeth. Justin is very deeply interested in exploring human emotions and everything about our heart and soul.
So it doesn’t really matter whether the setting is a castle in Denmark or some phantasy world, you’re still dealing with fundamental issues about what it means to be alive and how you relate to other people. It’s the essence of life.