Nov 3, 2011

INTERVIEW: Peter Sarsgaard

'The actor Peter Sarsgaard recently attended the 40th birthday party of a guy from his high school – an all-boys Jesuit school in Connecticut. “One of them said the wildest thing to me. He said, ‘we all knew you were like artistic, but you also looked like you were really out of it. Were you actually thinking about something interesting or thinking about something? Were you think about, like, us?’”

He laughs — more of a giggle, girlishly high. “I told him, ‘I was probably just spaced out.”

Sarsgaard gets this a lot. With his low-lidded, almond-shaped eyes, and sly, insolent manner, he often plays men honeycombed with secrets — a killer in Boy’s Don’t Cry, an editor in Shattered Glass, a sharpshooter in Jarhead, the seducer of Carey Mulligan in An Education — parts which instill in the audience a similar paranoia: what is that guy thinking? Is he thinking about us? If so, is it nice or nasty? “I do think a decent amount of what I do as an actor comes from my ability to not express,” he says. “I just smoulder. I combust internally.”

from my interview with Peter Sarsgaard for Mr Porter


  1. Great interview. You really caught his flickering temperament. And now I just want to say that at a party for Christine Vachon's first book (which I co-wrote), I introduced Sarsgaard to Hilary Swank before rehearsals started for Boys Don't Cry (then called Take It Like a Man). What a night. First this little bull dyke comes charging out of the elevator, swaggers around, asks to hold my baby (I had my infant daughter there), and then says, "I bet you think I'm a dyke, right? I'm not really like this! I have a husband in L.A.! I'm really girly! This is for the movie!" Later I met Sarsgaard and complimented him on his Malkovich parody as Malkovich's son in Man in the Iron Mask. I didn't realize that he often seems to be doing a Malkovich impersonation, unconsciously. But he was great! I said, "Come here, come here, I gotta introduce you to someone... Hilary, may I present your rapist and murderer!" Oh, I was such a charmer then.

  2. That's a great story. Malkovich: spot on. Of course.

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