Jack Huston: “You Have To Take Chances”
To most actors, a remake of Ben-Hur as your first starring role would be something of a risk. But then, Jack Huston is not most actors. Part of a family that includes legendary director John Huston and Oscar-winning actress Anjelica Huston, he has never traded on his famous name, proving his own worth as an actor with complicated roles in dramas like Boardwalk Empire. Here we find out what inspires him and drives him forward.
THE RED BULLETIN: You’re reinterpreting one of the most famous roles in cinema. Was that intimidating or exciting?
JACK HUSTON: I’m rather welcoming where cinema is concerned. I’m one of those people that realizes it’s an art form, it’s a landscape. And if four painters look at the same landscape, you’re going to end up with four very different paintings. It’s a beautiful thing to be openminded about this stuff. As an actor you look for roles that are even half as good as the role of Judah Ben-Hur. It’s one of the great roles.
It’s really you driving chariots in the film. What was that like?
It is hands-down the scariest thing to do initially, and then you find your way. There are moments where you’re absolutely convinced you’re going to die, but I think that only adds to the experience.
How did you cope?
Like most things that are scary, the first day is the worst and the hardest. Then when you make it through the first day you think, “Oh, maybe I can make it through this.” You find the beauty in it more than anything else. Rather than being scared or fearful, you start to embrace and enjoy it.
Other people have traded on their famous surname, but you haven’t. What drives you to be individual?
When I was very young, my uncle told me, “Don’t be one of those arseholes who feels ashamed of what your family has done—embrace it, be proud of it.” So I think I’ve always been trying to make them proud, stand up and do the best possible work I can do. To achieve that, I think not going the average route makes real sense, because you have to take chances. If I didn’t think I could bring something interesting or new, I wouldn’t have dared to step foot on a film set
For every Ben-Hur there must be a lot of roles you didn’t win. How do you deal with disappointment?
It’s very hard to get started in this, so there is a heck of a lot more disappointment when you start out. I’ve had disappointments, but I think I’d become so attuned to it, I became a bit of a realist about it. You’re never going to be right for every role, so the ones you are right for are the ones worth fighting for.