Wes Bentley Talks Rediscovering Acting, And His Sobriety [Exclusive]

Bouncing back from a personal setback is a hard task for anyone who has a bit of spotlight on them. For Wes Bentley struggling with addiction, while being Hollywood’s promising next big thing proved to be too much to digest. 13-years after his debut in American Beauty, and Bentley is a different man, with a new perspective on the industry he was once perplexed by.

These days the 34-year-old is not short on work, and is steadily rebuilding the blocks for an impressive re-entry into the industry. Since getting sober in 2010, Bentley has stretched his range in blockbuster films like Jonah Hex, and The Hunger Games, but has always returned to his roots of independent film. Most recently Wes can be seen opposite Frank Langella in The Time Being.

In the film, Wes plays Daniel, an artist who’s tied to the pressures one endures while struggling to make ends meet. Daniel winds up meeting a mysterious benefactor (Frank Langella) who gives him a new perspective on life and what it means to provide for his family.

Wes Bentley sat down with The Inquisitr’s Niki Cruz to talk about his new film The Time Being, what it’s like to return to the industry, and surviving addiction.


THE INQUISITR: You’ve been in the industry for a while. How did you get started?

WES BENTLEY: I actually have one of those good luck stories. I was going to Juilliard in New York. I skipped class one day and I went to a cattle call audition for Rent with a friend of mine. I couldn’t really sing but I just wanted to go and do something like that. I was standing in line outside, and there were so many people, and this lady walked by and she stopped and came back to me and gave me her card. She told me to come in to read for a movie and I didn’t really know what to think, but I went in any way and I got a bunch of call backs before I finally booked it. From there I was able to get a mid-level agent in New York and I started auditioning.

THE INQUISITR: Your film The Time Being shows how solitary the life of an artist can be. Is that how you view acting?

BENTLEY: Oh yeah, absolutely. When you’re performing, a lot of the time it’s about the other character. You’re bouncing off the other character in the actual scene that’s playing out. As an actor you’re still solitary in your own work. You can get direction, and you can seek advice, but you have to rely on yourself to pull out the necessary elements into the character that you’re playing, and it can be very isolated. It’s a very isolating business to be in, whether it’s running around doing press or trying to get jobs.

THE INQUISITR: How was it acting alongside Frank Langella? He has this expansive career. He does sinister really well. Was he intimidating in person?

BENTLEY: [LAUGHS] Yeah but not in a terrifying way. He was intimidating because I respect him so much. He has an incredible voice that rattles through you. You can’t help but respect that but also all of his ideas and opinions that he brought to the project. He was very confident in them, so you admire that as well. I got along great with him. He had a house right by this mansion, and I would go over there and we would have breakfast and go through the lines real quick, and talk about life. I really enjoyed working with him.

THE INQUISITR: Did he give you any advice?

BENTLEY: Oh yeah. He gave me lots of advice. The thing I took away is a simple thing. It’s quicker is better. When you start running through dialogue with other actors, the pace is better if it’s quicker.

THE INQUISITR: The Time Being is about a man being a provider and doing what he has to do to support his family. Have you had to take jobs you weren’t proud of?

BENTLEY: Absolutely. I won’t name the jobs. That was why I was attracted to the film, especially when I got sober. For the longest time people would ask me, “Why did you want to be an actor?” and I didn’t have an answer, because I didn’t understand it. I didn’t want to be an actor until I was in my 30s and sober. I knew I could act before it became a job, but I don’t think I had the desire for it. So I had a lot of ground to make up for it, and things to prove. I also had a new family. I had a wife and a child on the way, and so along the road to recovering my career I had to do things that I didn’t want to do, but it’s what everyone has to do. I shook off that prideful thing, to only do what you want to do. It’s just like any job in life. You never know when that next job is coming.

THE INQUISITR: Did getting sober change your perspective on the acting world in general?

BENTLEY: Yeah. I was very cynical because I was so young and already suspicious of the business, and the instant fame I had. I was suspicious of it all. When I got older and sober I realized that wasn’t really how I felt about it. I didn’t process it very well. I realized that I really do love doing it and I wanted to get better and better at it.

THE INQUISITR: For most people your role in American Beauty really stands out. Did you take anything away from that experience?

BENTLEY: Oh yeah. I took a lot. It was the second big role I had taken on. I learned a lot because it was my first time out in LA, and I learned a lot from Kevin Spacey. I was watching him in rehearsal. I was a kid so I was taking in everything, while at the same time I was cynical, so I was also starting to reject it before it came out. The whole experience of it coming out and exploding like it did kind of set me back.

THE INQUISITR: How about The Four Feathers? What was it like working with Heath Ledger? Is there anything you learned from him professionally or personally?

BENTLEY: I won’t be specific but I learned a lot from Heath. I think we learned a lot from each other. We took very different approaches to acting, and to life. We balanced each other perfectly, and that’s why we were so close. I’ll always miss having that balance in my life. I think about him every day.

THE INQUISITR: He was important to so many people.

BENTLEY: Yes. I don’t mind talking about him because he’s such a phenomenal actor, and he was such a great guy.

THE INQUISITR: As an actor you have been on two opposite ends of the spectrum in the industry as far as being in independent films, and in big budget films like the massive hit The Hunger Games. Are those experiences different for you?

BENTLEY: Yeah. In probably ways that are obvious to everyone. With the budget it’s just different on set. I’ve done movies that were under a million dollars in budget and there’s no trailer, you just sit on the movie set, and wait. You’re going guerrilla style, and that’s pretty cool because you feel a part of the filmmaking process. For the bigger projects you have a trailer to go back to and there’s a lot of food, and there’s a lot of down time. That’s all great, and fantastic, but there’s a different pressure involved in that. I really enjoy getting to run around and getting to know the crew. I like being a part of the movie warfare.

THE INQUISITR: I’m looking at your Twitter right now, and it says ‘Where are my shoes?” Have you found your shoes?

BENTLEY: [LAUGHS] No I still haven’t found my damn shoes!

THE INQUISITR: You have Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups coming out. How was that experience?

BENTLEY: It was amazing. Easily one of my favorite experiences. Terence is an amazing man.