Was there any particular reason you made Extraordinary Measures--a family member suffering from Pompe disease?
I'm glad we're going to be able to affect people's understanding of Pompe. It wasn't about bringing attention to this disease, although that in and of itself would have been worthy. I wanted to make a movie that everybody could go to and experience the drama of John Crowley's story. The character I play represents a number of different scientists and researchers who helped Crowley develop this enzyme therapy, which is now available. And I wanted to play a character different from what I'd been playing.
Was it hard to juggle having a co-starring role and being an executive producer?
Nicole Jenkins, ALBANY, ORE.
No. I had been working on it for five years before we got to the shooting stage. Everything was pretty much nailed down. What I love about moviemaking is that you're under the gun. You've got 250 people standing around waiting. I love to work under that kind of pressure.
Which one of the characters you've played is your favorite?
Janie Holland, NASHVILLE
They're all special. They all have their own individual destinies. I don't have favorites. I like variety.
How did you get the scar on your chin?
Bob Nikunen, BELLEVUE, NEB.
I had a Volvo 544, one of the first cars with a shoulder belt. It hung on a little peg behind you. I was on my way to work, and I realized I didn't have my [seat] belt on. So I was reaching around to get the damn belt off the peg when I bumped a curb and hit a telephone pole. The Volvo was totaled. I got a fairly--forgive me, man, but if this is your best work--untalented surgeon. That's what I needed: more asymmetry in my face.
Have you ever wanted to direct one of your own films?
No. It's the hardest job in the world. It takes too long and doesn't pay well enough. After he directed his first movie, Bob Hoskins said it was like being pecked to death by penguins. Bill Murray said it's seven times more work for the same money. I love the collaboration. I love to work with a director. That's the fun part.
What is your favorite movie of all time?
Rachid Farhat, PEABODY, MASS.
I don't know a lot about movies, but the one that sticks with me is To Kill a Mockingbird. The subject is amazing, and I was really moved by it.
In addition to acting, you have always worried about the preservation of the environment. Have you thought about doing a movie that focuses on this important cause?
Lisa Sukys, SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL
I don't much care for message movies, because what you do is raise an important and serious issue and then create a movie answer for it--something that can solve the problem in under two hours. Neither am I interested in being a poster boy for a cause. We shouldn't decide which side of the issue we come down on on the basis of what celebrity we want to ally with.
Any plans to retire from acting?