Having interviewed you several times over the years, you seem more at ease with yourself nowadays?
Yes, I do feel that. I think that’s part of growing up. A lot of things happened in my life while I was making this movie, and it made me think that we never know what’s going to happen in the future. All we have is right now, so what do you have to lose but to go for it?

You spent your first day of shooting in a jail?
Yes. People are most open and most vulnerable when they feel it is safe, and it is hard to feel that way in a jail, that’s for sure. It was weird to start the first day of a movie in a jail.

That must have been tough?
It was. I went to LA County Jail and then I went to a couple of juvenile halls which was life changing.

How so?
I think we tend to generalise and to just look at anybody who is in jail a certain way. We don’t look at the story of each person who is in there which is what I think is frustrating. It’s the same as people saying, ‘Is this movie a war story? Is this a story about war?’ I feel you tend to generalise each individual story, what the story is. If someone is a soldier and they are at war, does that mean they are just a soldier at war? Or do they have their own story? And has that story become a war story because they are a soldier? People are coloured by things and that type of prejudice because it’s not what the story about. But in this movie, as in every movie, I found myself learning a different lesson and the biggest lesson I learnt from this movie was from my experience with these boys in juvenile hall.

Working in the same field as your sister (Maggie) do you feel pressure to compete with her?
No, I think we have a lot of other complications, but I don’t think that’s one of them.

Like what?
The idea of competition, particularly in a creative atmosphere, is always present and if you don’t acknowledge that then you are doing yourself and the process a disservice. What made it so much fun working with Tobey for example, is that he’s my contemporary, and what’s great is the acknowledgement of admiration, the acknowledgement of competition, the acknowledgement of the complications. As regards my sister, if you are really with someone from the beginning of your life, like I have been with Maggie, she had a couple of years on the earth before me but I’ve been with her since the beginning of my life. This would take so long to explain. Sorry, I’ve gone off on a tangent. Can you ask me the next time you interview me?

OK, I’ll hold you to that. In this movie Tobey again will be seen as a great actor. A lot of people just remember him as Spiderman – do you think people will be surprised?
Yes. It’s like when I worked with Heath Ledger. When we started working together I think people were blown away by his performance in the movie (Brokeback Mountain). I don’t think people expected that from him. At least that’s what I heard that from the journalists and people who saw that movie. It is wonderful to see someone who everybody talks about. It is wonderful to hear. It is wonderful to have either fooled the people as he has done or to have been honest in the way that he has been that they go, wow!.

You studied Eastern religions?
I haven’t heard that question in a very long time. At the time, I just went with what moved me. I read this book by this Lama when I was in high school, and I thought it was fascinating. The ideas were fascinating and so when I went to college there was an incredible Eastern religions professor, so I just started studying it. I couldn’t give you a reason for why I gravitated towards it, it just seemed right. It was just one of those things. My mother’s Jewish, my father’s Christian, so when I grew up I didn’t really know exactly like where I fitted in or how I felt spiritually. Then I started to believe and started to like the idea that we’re all kind of interconnected. I liked it on an intellectual level but I didn’t really understand what it meant. I still don’t totally understand what it means, but then I studied Tibet and the culture of Tibet in particular, and again, I found it unbelievable how they went from being a totally warring society where essentially they ruled the world to a non-warring, all spiritual country, nation. All of it was fascinating to me and somehow, who knows, maybe it’s another life or something. I don’t know, but I just liked it.

Are you spiritual – for instance do you meditate?
Yeah, of course, I do lots of things. Yeah, I do.

What does meditation give to you? What does it give me?
Sometimes it gives me gas, sometimes it creates a sense of … God. We’re getting really serious now. Sometimes I think that. … one can’t separate the world from one’s self, and it kind of brings you back to, this is me and that’s what’s happening in the world, and what’s the difference? Is it me that’s doing it, or is it just what’s happening? It just gives perspective.

Actors always say they love each other when they’re talking about a film they’re promoting, but the three of you actually do seem to like each other.
I was honoured that Tobey wanted to do the movie, because I know he’s very picky. And he’s had so many opportunities to choose to do movies and he picked this one. So, from the beginning I felt kind of honoured that he wanted to do it. I don’t believe and I could be wrong, that there are filmmakers who are so extraordinary, that they can make something charismatic, or they can make something moving, when two people don’t like each other at all, or have no connection. I do think that’s possible, and there are those famous stories about all those things that people love, but in this case there was real camaraderie between us. Tobey and I would work out together, we played basketball together, I tore both ligaments in my leg and my ankle because of it … and I don’t think either of us ever pretended like there wasn’t great admiration and great competition. And I think that made for the experience.

You seem to have a natural style about the way you work – what kind of role do you think you wouldn’t be able to pull off?
Well, I definitely couldn’t play Denzel Washington’s part in Glory. That would probably not work out so well. But it would be interesting in some strange way.