(On his reputation as "character actor" rather than leading man): I think there's something about me...that people can relate to. And, you know, beauty can be its own prison.
I grew up a Catholic and went regularly to church. When I made the decision to make acting my vocation, I used to joke that the theatre is my church now. But, especially doing live theatre, where you have to do eight performances in six days, you really have to kind of live like a monk. Then you go to this big, dark place and experience emotions, and it's very spiritual.
"The C stands for Christopher. You can blame the union for that. The Screen Actors Guild make you do it if there's another member with the same name. I wasn't going to change my name, so I just included the middle one. It was a decision I had to make on Casualties of War (1989), my first film in 1989. I got a phone call and had to fly out to Thailand where Brian De Palma was shooting and it was a sudden decision, and I'm stuck with it. So I'm glad I didn't go for a stupid and exotic-sounding name just to grab attention, or you could be talking to a man named Tallulah or something".
Not because I find fame difficult, but because I fear that if you're too well known, you lose the ability to surprise your audience and that's what I like my characters to do. I can still get away with it, I think. I mean, those kids in the lobby didn't know my name and I did an interview yesterday where they looked very confused when I walked in. Turns out they were expecting Philip Seymour Hoffman, though they didn't really know his name either - they just sort of said to me: 'Have you lost weight and dyed your hair?"
I was a bit of a freak, but because I had a few older brothers I was afforded protection and people just kind of let me join their gangs. I was a kind of Zelig figure, moving between different groups. I'd hang with the jocks, the burn-outs, the academic types and I could empathise with all of them. I was curious about all of them, but I know I never felt I fitted in with them, you know? It sounds odd saying it now, but I just wasn't right there - until I started doing plays and then it was, like: "Ah, my people."
In Chicago it's really a case of the play's the thing - people are just so happy to be acting, you know? We were all actors - not like in New York or Los Angeles, where everyone says they are actors but they are actually waiting tables and hustling for spots in commercials. We might not have been paid very much, but we were doing what we wanted to do and I got a lot of experience that way, a lot of versatility, so I was ready when a big chance came along.