Sean Astin interview

Lord of the Rings actor on Dubai, hobbits and Goonies

Interview, Hot seat, The Knowledge

Is this the first time you’ve been to the UAE?
Yes – I watched a reality show all about the Palm Jumeirah and I was absolutely captivated by the way they problem-solved on a massive scale. So when my booker called me and asked if I wanted to go to Dubai, he hadn’t even finished the sentence before I said yes.

You first found fame as Mikey in ’80s classic The Goonies, but you’re best known for playing Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings. How did you handle the fame of being a hobbit?
You would have thought, looking at it on paper, that I’d be one of the top five in the movie who would be prepared to handle that, but as it turned out I was the least prepared. It didn’t matter how much publicity I’d done or how much adoration I’d had as a kid, it was just too much. If you want to be successful, you have to focus. I’ve now learned to take the rhythms of life a little bit more astutely.

Our favourite movie of yours is War of the Roses.
Really? Not Lord of the Rings? It was a fantastic experience. My audition lasted about six seconds before Danny DeVito offered me the part, and his one question was, ‘Are you going to show up on time?’ I remember Michael Douglas being an absolute prince of a man, and Kathleen Turner was lovely to work with.

Is that not the case with all your movie experiences?
No. If you come onto a Will Smith movie or a Tom Cruise movie, for example, they set the tone and the higher rank flows from them.

You’ve been in plenty of big Hollywood films. Do you get tired being asked about them?
My parents were famous actors: growing up I watched them being respectful to everyone they ever met. Some days you just want to be a jerk. I’m prepared to be forgiving of people who are in turmoil and are trying to find their way through it. But if you’re totally unaware of how you’re hurting someone’s feelings, that’s a less-than-appealing trait and I think it dishonours the gift of being able to make extraordinary sums of money doing something that a lot of people could do well if they put their mind to it.

So what’s next after Dubai?
I just filmed a pilot film for [US network] CBS called Surgeon General, with Jason Isaacs from Harry Potter. We’ll find out in four week whether that got picked up – it would be very helpful to my life and to my children if I was to be able to have a stable really good income.

Have you ever turned down a role and later regretted it?
No – although there’s a lot that I’ve auditioned for and didn’t get.

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