Wes Bentley has been a star since, at the age of 21, he played the anguished Ricky Fitts, next door neighbor to Kevin Spacey and family in the Oscar-winning “American Beauty.” His performance earned him a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor as well as several critic group awards. He followed up with roles in films like “The Four Feathers,” The White River Kid” and “Ghost Rider.” Most recently he’s been in such big budget films like “Jonah Hex” and “The Hunger Games” as well as indie projects like “Weirdsville.” He can currently be seen starring alongside Frank Langella in “The Time Being,” and will soon be seen as Larry Marciano, Linda Lovelace’s second husband, in the bio-pic “Lovelace.”
Mike Smith: Can you give us a brief introduction to Daniel, your character in “The Time Being?”
Wes Bentley: Daniel is a painter…an artist. He’s pretty ambitious. He has a family, a wife and son. He’s had a moderate bit of success in the past. He’s looking to put on a show and display his paintings to help support the family. Unfortunately he feels the pressure and it doesn’t go so well, which leads to a great deal of frustration.
MS: What attracted you to the project?
WB: Quite a few things. I saw a lot of things in there that I could relate to. We all strive to be able to provide for our families. We try to have integrity in our hearts but that’s not always possible. It can create a dilemma in your heart. I was also attracted to the visual concept of the film…where almost every frame is filled with a piece of art. And when I heard Frank Langella was going to be in it…it all came together.
MS: In the film Daniel is an artist. Besides acting, did you have any kind of artistic background?
WB: (laughs) I’m absolutely the worse drawer, but I did enjoy the painting aspect of the film. I think that may be something I try to do later in life. But that was another thing that interested me in the film…it was a new experience.
MS: You have that rare film career where you’re successful in both big budget films and independent projects. Do you have a preference?
WB: I like elements of both. I like the guerilla warfare aspect of shooting a film that has a budget of under a million dollars. You don’t have a trailer, you have a chair to sit on outside with all of the filmmakers. On those films you learn a lot about filmmaking and the camera. On the bigger budget films you really get to concentrate on what YOU’RE doing. You can take more time to devote to your character. You don’t have to rush through a few scenes in a day, which is often the case on smaller budget films. And sometimes it doesn’t work out because you’d like to have that extra time to work out your character. But I don’t really have a preference…I’m happy with each.
MS: Besides “Lovelace” what do you have coming up?
WB: I have a film called “Pioneer,” which is a Norwegian film. It’s a very stylish film about how Norway discovered oil in the late 60s and early 70s. I also have a film called “Chavez,” which is about Cesar Chavez, the immigration activist. I play his lawyer. I also have a couple more films that are still in post production so I’m not sure when they’ll be released.