Happy Birthday: Elias Koteas

Elias Koteas.jpgElias Koteas

Born: March 11, 1961 in Montréal, Québec, Canada

[2011, on Zodiac (2007)] I loved working with David [David Fincher]. David pushes you in a way that will test your resolve and your own character. Him and Terry, the similarities… He’s focused, knows what he wants. He keeps doing it, keeps honing it. Sometimes you do a lot of takes, and I love that. You get the chance to relax into it…Sometimes it works in your favor. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes doing 40 takes flattens you out. Sometimes it takes a certain kind of actor and a certain kind of talent to maintain a spark after 40 takes. Sometimes actors are at their best after three takes and you move on. But, you know, it depends on the situation. There was one scene where I was so nervous. I mean, I was nervous. I couldn’t function. Sometimes being the instrument, you’re at the mercy of the day and how you wake up in the morning. Sometimes you’re nervous, and it gets in the way. The fact that there were 40 takes to relax me was comforting. The fact that we didn’t only have three took a lot of pressure off me. But I could understand how it could flatten you out. If you’re really operating on all cylinders, doing a lot of takes could be exhausting. But that’s its own challenge. You gotta take it as it comes. But I could also see the value of doing a couple of takes. You have to bring your game right off the top, and that’s its own thing. You know, it’s challenging either way.

[2011, on Shutter Island (2010)] God, man! I was working with Marty Martin Scorsese! It was the quietest set I’ve ever been on. It was almost reverential. I felt like I went home. He made me feel like I belonged. It was a magical time. It was only a week of my life in Boston. I grew up watching stuff that he did. Suddenly, to be on set with him, working together, you gotta pinch yourself. It was very intimidating and nervous. Suddenly you’re there, in the middle of the scene. You gotta make it happen. You hope to God that you’re present enough to try a lot of different things. Oh, and I remember one day, I was sitting in a trailer putting on the makeup, and in comes Max von Sydow. And on my cell phone, my ringtone is “Tubular Bells” [The theme from The Exorcist (1973)]. Here comes this very elegant, quiet gentleman, and he comes in and he sits right next to me so he could have his makeup put on. We say hello to each other, and it’s all very nice. Then it occurred to me, if someone were to call me, there would be “Tubular Bells” ringing, and I thought that would be a great icebreaker. But nobody called! It didn’t occur to me to call up my girlfriend and say, “Hey, babe, could you call me right now?” I would have had her call me, and I would have let it ring. It would have cracked everybody up.



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