One of your last films, "The Road," is actually up for Beliefnet's annual award, The Best Spiritual Film of the Year. It's obviously not a feel-good movie, but many people have said there's a Christian message in that film. Did you view it from that perspective?
Well, it could be, but the point is they didn't push that. The Weinstein brothers, the wonderful Weinstein brothers didn't push that movie at all. They just let it kind of die on the vine.
I don't know if there's a spiritual message. I mean, it's pretty bleak. I read the novel way back, and it's wonderful. I guess if you hold on to certain Christian beliefs that's the only way you can get through. It's such a moral atmosphere with the whole post-apocalyptic experience that these two people are going through, the father and son. They have to hold onto something. I don't know if it's spiritual. Perhaps that's what it is--something higher.
I think you can view it two ways. Some people have seen "the fire within" that was referenced as a Christian metaphor, but then some just thought of it as hope in general.
Yeah, yeah. I don't know what the director thought. I only worked [on the film] for a couple days. It's an interesting film, but it didn't get a lot of emphasis like it started out. Maybe it's because they held it for a year. But I hope we don't get to that point in the world--post-apocalyptic where everything just shreds.
Right. You'd have to make some tough decisions.
You're a big country music fan. What is it about country music that you love so much?
I just like it. I have always liked it. When I was in the army, way back, I listened to Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, Webb Pierce, Carl Smith, all the old-time singers—more like [my character] in "Tender Mercies." Jeff was more like the modern guys--Billy Jo Shaver and Kris Kristofferson, more country-rock. I've always liked country music. It's a certain aspect of America that goes back to the British Isles and the influence is very native to America. It's one of our appeals. They say Hank Williams used to stand on the corner in a small town in Alabama and sing with a black man way back in the '50s.
Do you like the sound or do you like the message?
I don't think the message—it's all corny. A lot of it is corny. But opera can be corny, life can be corny, melodramatic. I like the music. I like the…
Yes, it's an American thing.
I'm reading a book now on the 95 existing Congressional Medal of Honor winners. They're going to present me with an award at the end of the month here in California. I'm very honored about that.
Yeah. These guys, some of them prayed, some of them didn't. They had to react out of such a quick, impulsive thing, whether it's metaphysical or animal. You don't know what it is these guys did, but what they went through--it was amazing--to make this nation a better place.
Speaking of praying, do you have a spiritual practice that you follow regularly? Do you pray?
Yeah, I have my own ways of doing things. Definitely.
I read that you were brought up in the Christian Science religion. Do you still practice that?
Yep, I do.
What inspires you as an actor? What drives you or leads you to pick certain roles over others?
You're so honest. That's great.
It's money. [Also] if it's a good part, if it's a quality part, the director, who I act with, if it's a worthwhile project, then I select it. You're always looking for things. You're looking for different people. A guy approached me to play Don Quixote de la Mancha, one of the great parts in literature. When they get the money—it's always the money--I'll be doing that and whatever else comes around.
You never know, something comes at you from around the corner and surprises you, and then you go do it. Then you plan other things. It depends. What drives me is I love my profession. I love to do it.
What is your dream role? What is a role that you haven't played that you want to one day?
Don Quixote de la Mancha, right now. And I'd liked to play Devil Anse in "The Hatfields and the McCoys." That's a great part. "The Hatfields and the McCoys" is like American Shakespeare.