Patricia Clarkson on Emile Hirsch

Actors on Actors

“I was knocked out by ‘Into the Wild.’ What’s most interesting about Emile’s performance, he truly has to carry this movie. And he seems like he is 12 but he is not. He is a grown man. It is such a traumatic journey he takes physically, spiritually, psychologically, physiologically, and he does it with a lack of ‘acting’ and effort. What is shocking, I met Emile after seeing the film. I thought Sean Penn had found this wild-spirit mountain guy, but in person Emile looks like this sweet boy next door. He is not this character at all. When young actors are great, we assume they are that character. They couldn’t possibly transform, but Emile did. Which is astonishing. The movie is transporting; it is lyrical and literate and beautiful and yet at this center is this quite young man. And yet it is an incredibly adult performance. We dream of seeing movies that ponder the existential. Sean has done that with this film, but if he didn’t have Emile … What beautiful casting!”

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