The New Yorker Interview
By Adam Gopnik
I had listened to John Mauceri talk about how one of the most difficult things that he’s ever done is having to play to a click track when he does music at the Hollywood level—because you have somebody else’s rhythm and somebody else’s music, and you have to bring it alive. And I thought, I understand that innately as an actor."
I met Cate Blanchett in 2021, on the set of Todd Field’s movie “Tár,” in which she was playing Lydia Tár, an apparently formidable orchestra conductor, and I had been cast as a highly scripted and agreeably heightened version of myself. Field had reached out to me months before to say, startlingly, that he had written a movie for Blanchett that also had a character within it bearing my name. Would I play this dubious role? I’d been impressed by Field’s earlier work, and was easily persuaded to trot out my best self-impersonation for reasons partly Goffmanite (like the sociologist Erving Goffman, I’m fascinated by how we all play ourselves as a part) and partly Grouchoite (I am a ham who likes acting in things).
Mostly, though, I was intrigued by the idea of working—even on a pro-am basis—with Cate Blanchett. Like everyone else, I had been watching her...