Zap2it: You’re a 1998 MFA graduate of New York City’s Columbia University. Now you teach students in the third year of the masters program for acting at your alma mater. What do the students want to know?
Anson Mount: By the time they get to the last year, which is the third year of the program, they’re scared s***less usually, because they haven’t had anything to do with me until they get me in class. The first thing I have to get them to do is stop taking me so seriously, and then I have to work on not taking themselves too seriously.
Zap2it: Why is that important?
Anson Mount: If I can say one thing to [beginning actors], it’s to stop giving such a s***. They come out, and it’s so competitive, and it’s such a capitalist society, and they’re so scared, they’re wanting to knock it out of the ballpark every single time. The biggest thing that gets in young actors’ way is just the need to be good, this need to be brilliant, this need to be employed.
And so, I have to work on educating them about the fact that the scope of their career is going to be the scope of life if they stick with it. They don’t have to do it all right now.
Zap2it: But what’s wrong with overnight success when you’re young?
Anson Mount: If I’d gotten everything I wanted in my 20s, I’d be dead or in jail. I think part of my success is that I just outlasted most of my competition. It’s true.