This is your first time working with Ridley Scott. How did you find the experience?
"So much of the movie-making process is waiting around, waiting for the director to figure out what they want. And here you have a director that is so precise and trims so much of the fat out of the film-making process that none of it is a waste of time. Everything that he does, he instinctually reacts to. On an actor's level, whether he believes you or he doesn't believe you. Will the scene serve its purpose? It's exhilarating and fantastic and I'd love to do it again."
What was it about Roger Ferris that appealed to you?
"I like this character a lot. I felt like, certainly in a turbulent time like this, here you have a highly-trained CIA operative that has forged valuable relationships in the Middle East and knows that if there's to be any long-term outcome he needs to be able to reach out to intelligence officials like Hani. He's not looking for that quick fix, the appearance of victory, he's looking for long-term solutions. Meanwhile, his country is constantly undermining him, usurping his intelligence. I just felt that my character was operating on a higher moral context than his country would like him to."
Did you learn Arabic for the film?
"I don't remember any of the language! I got to have a dialect coach there who helped with all the different Arabic dialects. It was very difficult. I have a great dialect coach who's helped me on a lot of films I've done, but this was the hardest because it comes from a place in the throat that I don't normally use."
How demanding was the role in terms of stunts?
"The pace of this film was very demanding. I did most of my own stunts. It was very physically demanding. Russell Crowe will attest to how you do walk away battered and bruised. But it's still a lot of fun and Ridley keeps the whole environment safe, as safe as he can. It comes with the territory doing movies like this. You expect that kind of stuff to happen."
What kind of physical and mental impact did the torture scene have on you?
"My big injury story was that I got a cold! The torture scene was a very important sequence for me. I don't even like to use the term, I prefer interrogation. We knew that was a pivotal moment in the movie, that the film wouldn't have the same weight, intensity or realism unless that sequence was as authentic as possible. That was the scene that I put the most though and energy into. I got to talk to ex-CIA operatives to ask what would a person in this situation do. And I got a chest cold afterwards!"
How did you find kicking Russell Crowe in the chest?
"That was one of the first things we shot. That was Ridley's suggestion to kick off our relationship in the movie. Ridley was very insistent that I kick Russell over in his chair because we were talking about other things I'd do after he'd just [put my character's life in danger]. It kept on making me laugh to see Russell tumble off that chair."
How has Russell changed since you worked together on The Quick And The Dead?
"I worked with him when I was 18 years old. He did Romper Stomper and I just did a film called What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Here we were converging on this big budget movie with Gene Hackman and Sharon Stone. We kind of forged a friendship there because we didn't know where to fit in. We didn't belong to the character actor group or the movie star group and I remember talking to him a lot about movies back then, the type of actor he wanted to be, the type of films he liked. He's the same guy that he was back then. Incredibly funny, committed to his work, great to be around. I have nothing but great things to say about him and I was happy to reunite with him on this movie."
You've reunited with Kate Winslet for Revolutionary Road, how was that experience?
"She's one of my best friends. Truth is, we've been in communication a lot since Titanic and this came out of nowhere. It was one she had been secretly developing and gotten her husband (director Sam Mendes) to be involved in. We both knew the stuff that would come with us working together again, but this was a unique piece of material in the sense that it was diametrically opposed to what we had done before. It's the disintegration of two people who are battling to try and stay together."
Body Of Lies is released in cinemas on November 21