On Life

  • “My friends and I talk about being the last generation ever to know a world without Internet. Just for a second, when we were kids. We have memories of that, but we’ve grown up with the technology and it puts a lot of people in my generation in a crazy position – working for the government or fighting against the government.”
  • “It might be game over for humanity, for things growing on this planet, or it might be the slap in the face wakeup call that we clearly have needed for a long time. It’s strange to feel a fork in the road for a planet and species like that. There’s a Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times.”
  • “We’re not living in an age of no hope. We are living in the age of choice, which is much scarier. It means that what we do every day matters, which is always a bummer for humans. But it’s a great thing and it’s inspirational and we need to remember that. We have a long way to go and not a long time to get there.”
  • “My personal opinion is that truth, like honesty and non-harmfulness, often are at odds with one another. It’s a very difficult thing to navigate, ‘When should I be honest?,’ and ‘When should I be trying not to hurt?’ There’s a reason why the world, right now, is dominated by a bunch of lies. It’s because they’re easier. They’re a lot easier to deal with. Full truth is going to be half really pretty, beautiful stuff, and half the darkest shit you could imagine. So yeah, any wisdom or knowledge seeker in the world knows that the further you go, the more light means the more darkness, the more hurt and the more pain. That is an age-old, timeless reality. I think the answer to your question is an unequivocal yes.”
  • “We want to fight climate change and protect our future together, and we can only do that by standing up to people who put profit before everything else. A better world is coming, we really believe that.”
  • “Well I imagine that without a diagnosis and a standard of normality, there is only cause and effect within the grand circumscribing human nature. Now, with all the cures on the shelves, everyone’s sick. There is more mental illness and suicide than ever before. I’m not an authority on any of this, but I do know that, as a kid, I first got depressed the day someone told me what depression was.”
  • “I feel like a sickness and dystrophy is growing in people, like people are getting sicker, something about our society, something about our psychological structures. We’re not whole.”
  • “Getting lost in human perception is a very scary idea.”
  • “I think even the most horrible of circumstances and events carry an undertone of the vast goodness possible in the space between human beings.”

On his Personal Life

  • “Queer is a generational term in the way that that it is newly available in a certain way. I think it feels the most open and inclusive and that’s what makes it apply for me, personally. I think there are a lot of people who fall on this open spectrum of sexuality. My friends and I use that word as an all-encompassing banner and for every human being. There should be an ongoing question and investigation of who you love and everything that’s involved with that very tricky and beautiful thing.”
  • “I’ve had many, you know, happy ending sleepovers’in my early youth — my period of exploration. I think that’s essential. Anyone who hasn’t had a gay moment is probably trying to avoid some confrontation with a reality in their life.”
  • “I’ve definitely been assaulted because of my sexuality a couple times… A guy grabbed me by the jacket and was like, ‘What the fuck is with this jacket?’ And I was like, ‘It’s a jacket that I’m wearing.’ And he’s like, ‘Who are these fuckin’ people you’re with?’ And I was like, ‘That’s my mother. And we’re just going to get some dinner. Would you please let go of me?’ He went, ‘What?! My mother!? My mother?!’ He sort of let go of me, and I was like, ‘Look man, you’re confused, and I’m sorry, I’m leaving.’ He went pussy. And I was like, that guy just spat out the most non-sensical of masculine, gay-bashing skewers. He didn’t even know what angle to take. He tried the mother angle, he tried the pussy angle, the what-is-with-this-jacket angle… He needed to sober up, figure out his hate crime a little more.
  • “I do feel the reality that many sort of condescendingly forewarned me of, which is that the curious mind in the modern human can expire and can tire and can run out of fuel, and so it’s becoming my ultimate objective to keep reigniting that particular fire, because it’s kind of the only thing I live for at this point. I think it’s a dangerous aspect of our culture that we are encouraged to settle for anything less than the life-or-death need to comprehend and appreciate our surroundings in ever-renewable ways.”
  • “I’ve been trying to encourage myself to be more willing. Because my resistance towards cell phones — which I definitely have, a great resistance towards cell phones — it becomes a problem. At this point, no matter where you side of that digital divide you are entrapped by it. Because there’s a level of expectation of the availability of communication that we just can’t go back on. There’s no reverse button. Even though I don’t like cell phones, I wish there could be spaces and gaps of time where people were excusably missing from the cyber net.”
  • “In New York it’s more casual and friendlier than anywhere else that I’ve experienced in the country or in the world. So, if for some reason, someone recognizes me from the film often they’ll just do something as simple as like a thumbs up, you know what I mean? Or they’ll come up and just say really quickly that they loved the film. Or on certain occasions people are affected by this film in a way and there’s a lot all of a sudden that they what to say or express. Or maybe something they want to share about their life that drew them closer to the story. And I’m generally, unless I like – I really have to get somewhere and can’t talk, I’m usually, you know, down to hear whatever it might be.”
  • “Medicalization of marijuana is happening in more and more states. Of course, there is one sweeping issue, which is nonviolent drug convictions constitute a lot of what puts people in jail in this country and the prison industrial complex is one of our last booming industries. Pot also stands to take a lot of money away from the pharmaceutical industry. It’s a painkiller and dopamine inhibitor. It serves all of these functions that there are all these harmful, extreme drugs prescribed to serve. So there’s money to be made in the continued illegality of that plant. But I feel no shame. It’s a plant. Everybody knows what pot is.”

On his Career

  • “I know the world of high art, power, privilege, and then I know the world of complete crust punk, do-it-yourself, independent art making, and I think they both have things to learn from each other,” he says. “That’s where I want to be, using the power of both those worlds.”
  • “We had a pond and woods, and my passion for acting developed in the backyard in those woods. I’d dress up in various costumes with one of my older sisters. We’d pretend to be warriors or cowboys.”
  • “Movies are the furthest heightening we have come to as a species thus far of creating mirrored reflections of the unreal realities every individual lives in relation to the universe. It is the ultimate catharsis, to see it played out in the reflection. It is the ultimate joy. It can be the ultimate terror. It can be anything. It is the empty puddle of reflection that can harbour any image. That’s why I love movies.”
  • “I always thought it would be really, really cool to play Edgar Allan Poe, because when I was a kid, he was one of the authors who really blew my mind open to all sorts of weird dark and twisted places. When I can grow a moustache, I want to play Edgar Allan Poe.”
  • “All of a sudden the flood gates are open to wonderful, well-written gay characters. These roles are good. No longer is there this long-standing, unspoken reality that playing gay somehow involves the defamation of an actor, or the ruin of a career. A space opened up. Once the space opened up, the roles started gaining depth. No longer are gay roles just victims, or tokenization, but real, wonderful characters.”
  • “I’ve had a love affair with Madame Bovary — is a weird thing to say — simply because the book is such an expository to the falsehoods of love affairs. I loved that book for a long time.”


  • “I think everybody within this industry who’s labeled as beautiful feels the tyranny of beauty. That is a standard that’s set for them, a pedestal that they can only tumble from. I also think it ultimately creates a lot of self-loathing, and self-doubt for people who are labelled beautiful, or ugly. In the end, it’s not actually helpful for anyone — the labeling and rating systems we’ve established for ourselves.”
  • “I was offered a role in Kill Your Darlings. Lucien Carr was a gay murderer. And having just played a murderer and someone who was gay, I thought it would be the ultimate pigeon-holing manoeuvre if I was to play him . . . .For a studio, it’s about reliable names and the income they will produce, so it’s easy to have that person play a similar role throughout their career. But for an actor, the whole interest is to spread your exploration of human beings as far and wide as you can, so it’s almost like a competition between actors and film-makers to flee your pigeon-hole.”
  • “I was at one of my friend’s houses and saw a script that said ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ — I felt outraged, like this was a terrible idea; they shouldn’t be making this into a movie. Then I was sent the script personally and read the name of the writer of the script — like, ‘alright, what asshole thinks he could adapt this sort of material?’ — and it was Stephen Chbosky, the author of the novel. And so, at that moment… I read the script in an hour, rapid-fire consumed it, and I was completely drawn in.”
  • “To play Patrick’s manic ability to be constantly the proverbial life of the party and then really only have that be a manic overextension at very certain points in the plot line where, for me, being that manically joyous and hilarious all the time would be a sign that something terrible is going to happen. You know what I mean? Like a crash is just around the corner? It was important that that actually only be at a couple specific points in the story arc, that we feel that. The rest of the time, it’s genuine, you know? He’s a genuine life force. It’s tricky to capture that when I might not be as constantly enthusiastic. “
  • “I totally consider Patrick a role model. I admire him greatly. The wholesome method of survival — that relief and that joy and that love he’s been able to keep for himself, he can then share it with his chosen family, with the friends he loves.”
  • “I love the way that in this industry everybody kind of has their own style. There are no set rules, per se, of how you go about doing this. In the end, it’s just like this right now: two people having a conversation on the phone. I could f*cking say anything. I think a lot of actors become keenly aware of that, and the idiosyncrasies of how everybody gets the same job done are kind of what makes this whole crazy circus so endlessly entertaining.”
  • “It is disappointing that Tilda didn’t win the Oscar for Kevin, but not necessarily surprising. It seems like there’s more and more admiration in Oscar culture for clear emotional messages. If you look at the films nominated this year, they all carry very clear viewing experiences. An audience member watching Hugo knows exactly what to feel, and is most likely quite comfortable with what they’re feeling. We Need To Talk About Kevin was never that. But it is still a disappointment to me, because having watched Tilda make that performance and then having seen it in the film, it was such a clear example of an entirely, indisputably worthy performance.”
  • “I wouldn’t say I wasn’t intimidated by Tilda Swinton. That seems like the highest form of hyperbole, but certainly when I entered that chemistry read, I was for the most part sort of within the mind frame of the character. When I met Tilda, obviously I stepped out of the mental initiative of that character and met Tilda, but still in sort of my emotional core was carrying this hatred, disgust and resentment. I think that sort of masked the true emotion, which was absolute admiration and a feeling of laudation toward Tilda, who has been one of my heroes in this art form for a long time. I think it was a convenient deception. It just sort of turned out that way.”
  • “The way Kevin’s emotions hold him in their grasp, kind of physically, was impossible to shake until production was done. That month was very intense, and I did at times feel that I was going completely mad. Which I was willing to do for the sake of the film, for I believed in the story and Lynn [Ramsay, the writer/director] as a filmmaker so strongly, that even though I was saying to myself, yes I’m going mad, I was doing it in the service of something I believed in.”