Mystic River

For the tense drama that plays out in “Mystic River,” Tim Robbins had to go to a dark place to portray a man weighed down by a painful past involving child molestation and a current secret about a murder. The upside is, he didn’t have to do it for that long.

“The good news is that Clint does only one or two takes,” says Robbins of director Clint Eastwood. “So you do have to go to a dark place, but you don’t have to do it for 18 takes.”

Through years of diverse perfs, Tim Robbins has portrayed shady Hollywood studio execs (“The Player”), soulful prisoners (“The Shawshank Redemption”) and nutty scientists (“Human Nature”), yet has never gotten an Oscar nom for his efforts.

However, he’s more interested in a good role and smart co-stars than kudos. He got both of the former with “Mystic River,” working under the direction of Eastwood and alongside Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon.

“It’s incredibly fulfilling to do a good, well-written drama. You get a lot out of it,” says Robbins. “I’m always looking for that well-rounded, specific role. A character that has a defined path, history and a complexity of emotion. Those are great parts. So when those come along, I relish the opportunity.”

Working with actors who have directed, such as Penn and Bacon, helped the process. “I found that after I directed I wanted to be more accommodating to the production,” explains Robbins, who got an Oscar nom for helming 1995’s “Dead Man Walking.” “Just having been through the process and knowing how essential every minute is in the day, I think you become a more responsible actor.”

Maybe too responsible, as the shoot for “Mystic” revealed. “It was only seven weeks and it was originally scheduled for eight,” says Robbins. “We were all asking Clint if we could shoot extra scenes because we wanted to stay.”

Coming attractions: “Code 46,” “Anchorman”

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