I’d just come from Railway Man with Nicole Kidman in Australia three days before and went to the set of Devil’s Knot in Georgia.  It was strange to go from immersion in that to this which is equally dark, obviously very different, and playing a real person in both cases.  The challenges were very different.  In the case of Railway Man I had to understand the past which was difficult to grasp and immerse myself in someone else’ memories and this wasn’t that.  In this case I was an outsider coming in with no preconceptions, or at least very few.  You come in for professional reasons and find yourself drawn in.
But you were among friends for Devil’s Knot so that must have lightened things.
I have history with both Atom Egoyan and Reese Witherspoon.  Atom is a good friend and I continually admire his work.  It’s wonderful to have someone you regard so highly but who is also a friend with whom you have a great rapport, so I’m always looking for an opportunity to work with him.
Did you meet the detective you played?
I spoke to him but I didn’t meet him in person.  He’s not a man with loudmouth opinions.  He listens. He wouldn’t be drawn in on it.  I wrote to him to tell him my view and expressed my respect for him and what he did for the case and got a brief reply back to the effect that “I’m sure it will be fine”.
How long do stay with your characters when the filming’s done?
You become part of the story by taking part in the storytelling process.  That stays very much alive and my relationships and person investment in that has not gone away.  Being difficult to shake off implies you want to shake it off.  Some are welcome to have around.  We’re talking something nebulous here, characters that don’t exist.  This is the world of the imagination and a fragment of yourself, and probably all the more potent for that.  For instance, the Harold Pinter play The Caretaker.  There’s a sort of irrational sense that character is around somewhere and you have a relationship and affection.   A Single Man even from reading the book you feel you know him, and you might run into him, and you want to check if he’s okay.   (Director) Tom Ford felt the same.  Some films you just walk off the set and that’s absolutely goodbye.
Do you wonder what happens to your creations, your characters?
Some, however resolved the story might be.  You presume the characters would go on with their lives.  Sometimes it’s finished before it’s done.
Devil’s Knot Opens January 24th