On postponing the release of Gangster Squad following the Aurora theatre shooting.
I saw the first incarnation with the scene at Grauman's Chinese Theatre [which was cut following the shooting]. Given the fact the film industry is so global and reaches out to the whole world, you have to recognize you have a certain responsibility. This was an instance where it was so close to what had happened in Colorado that I completely agree with Ruben’s [Fleischer] sentiment in changing things out of respect for the victims. On the other hand, since the beginning of filmmaking, and of storytelling, we’ve had the use of weapons and violence. And I think it’s a shame when Hollywood becomes the scapegoat for that kind of thing. There’s been a recent rise in violent crime and it would be a shame to overlook other factors that might, or might not, be contributing to that. There. It was said.
On filming in his native town of Los Angeles.
I think that Los Angeles does have a heartbeat, it has a heart and soul. It’s the City of Angels. There’s something nostalgic, romantic [about it]. It does have a rich history—go figure! When you look at all things aside from Hollywood you see that. And there is pride in that, and it was a rare thing growing up being a native Angeleno, because it’s a destination spot for the city of dreams.
On surviving being a child star.
I wouldn’t really look at it as “surviving.” I was in acting school for 12 years. My teacher always tried to instill that getting a role was in the domain of the actor’s efforts. And I definitely fought for being involved in movies. I’m happy in my life and I don’t feel like I’ve done my best yet, I’m still searching.
On the influence of film noir.
Film noir and that style really came from gangster films. In film noir you think the lighting, what hides in the shadows, and the notion of subtext. It was one of the reasons I wanted to be an actor. This movie has that element, of course, but it was shot with anamorphic lens, so you get those lens flares, and the action sequences have phantom slo-mo stuff [mimes shooting a Tommy gun] so it bridges into a modern aesthetic.
On being the brains, not the brawn, in a macho ensemble cast.
Keeler [his character] is more or less the moral compass of the group, or the conscious of the group. Much like in tradition of film noir, the heroes are not black and white. In our case, the good has to become the evil and my character questions that in the film. I thought that was great, as it speaks to a time in a broader sense where there were values, or different values. When people signed up for war because they wanted to beat the bad guy. That’s where my character was coming from. He legitimately wanted to create a better future for his progeny.