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Fall Sneaks

A knack for playing real people helps this actor find himself

StarTurns: Peter Sarsgaard

September 07, 2003|Mark Olsen

Having previously played what he calls "nonfiction roles" in "Boys Don't Cry" and "Dead Man Walking," Peter Sarsgaard is no stranger to characters with real-life analogues.

Sarsgaard says it wasn't hard to make his own connections to the material for his role in "Shattered Glass," as a journalist instrumental in exposing the fables passed off as truth by writer Stephen Glass.

"You'd be surprised how much of yourself you can find to put into something like this," says Sarsgaard, 32. "For me, being a certain kind of actor and being a bit of a stick in the mud about what I perceive as my own integrity as an actor, I have a certain amount of animosity toward actors who I perceive as merely clowns. And I have no right to that animosity, I know that, but it's still there."

Sarsgaard's scenes late in the film opposite Hayden Christensen as Glass make for the dramatic and thematic heart of the movie because the characters have a series of escalating confrontations. Sarsgaard, though happy to accept praise regarding the veracity of the scenes, has his own take on how they turned out the way they did.

"This is like explaining song lyrics or something -- you're not supposed to do it," he reports, "but I was so hot. We had the car windows rolled up, and we couldn't have the air conditioning on because it's bad for sound, and I look at myself and I'm just so uncomfortable. An audience sees it and they just see me fuming. And I am fuming, I'm hot and annoyed."

Sarsgaard is shooting "Kinsey" in New York for writer and director Bill Condon. After that, Sarsgaard plans to spend a few months in L.A. playing homemaker while his girlfriend, actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, appears at the Mark Taper Forum.

-- Mark Olsen

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