There’s this contradiction between your screen image and your real nature. You play very tough characters but in real life you’re very friendly and gentle and you’re known for giving people hugs as a sign of that warmth?
I’m not a tough guy. I can be if I need to be but that’s not my nature. A long time ago I discovered that fear played a big role in the way I reacted to things and that’s why I would get into fights when I was younger. But it’s so pointless and stupid. That’s not the way I want to live. I still have that fear inside me but now I understand it and I can manage it. I don’t let it dictate my behaviour any more… I want to embrace everything that is kind and good in life. I want to be a good example as a father and be someone who is going to be a healthy and happy influence.
There is sense about you that you could explode if provoked, though?
Maybe there’s still a sense of anger inside me and way back I could get strike back if I was pushed sufficiently. But that kind of thing only gets you into trouble and once you’ve gotten into a certain position you just have to forget about that kind of stuff. Sometimes the perception that you might get angry can stop people from behaving in a way that you don’t like. But the best thing is that directors might see that in me and ask me to play these characters where I get to pretend that I’m tough. But that’s not who I am. I’m just glad to get the work.
You often have a dog around you and you seem to enjoy their presence. What is so special about dogs for you?
I’ve always loved dogs. I love the way they will stick with you and never leave your side. They are very loyal and will never leave your side. I find that so beautiful about them they only want to be part of whatever it is you’re doing and they’re happy just to sit at your feet because they feel that closeness to you. I’m a very loyal person myself and I have this pack mentality just the way a dog has. They want to belong, they want to attach themselves to you and be part of what you do. I just love dogs.
You’ve been working pretty hard of late. First you spent nearly a year working on Mad Max and more recently the shoot on The Revenant lasted much longer than originally planned.
It was a much bigger beast than anyone expected. Alejandro has his own vision and he will do anything to achieve what he set out to do. I admire that intensity and dedication even though it sometimes drives you crazy.
What drew you to the project?
It wasn’t the idea of freezing for nine months that made me do it. (Laughs) But I liked the novel by Michael Punke and the themes of survival and revenge. The story has an epic quality and you’re taken into this struggle of man vs nature as well as two men fighting each other.