Matthias Schoenaerts, star of “Rust and Bone” won’t take the easy way out

"Rust and Bone" hits theaters in New York on Friday.

Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts is making waves in Hollywood with “Rust and Bone,” Jacques Audiard’s impressive drama that took Cannes and Toronto by storm. Schoenaerts stars opposite Marion Cotillard as a down-on-his luck bouncer, single-father and amateur boxer trying to make due in the South of France. But as he starts garnering attention in America, Schoenaerts is willing to be patient — and maybe turn down a few things — if it means avoiding the trap of being typecast as a bad guy.

You’re playing a very frustrated guy here, a guy who sometimes can only communicate by punching things.
Yeah. (laughs) That’s part of who he is. To me the challenge was to make him very simple and sincere and straightforward and honest and pure. So not to make him malicious in any way or make it a guy who edits himself or calculates his moves. He’s just very instinctive about everything. So everything is like a natural reflex. Being brutal is a reflex, being tender is a reflex. So everything is very pure, very direct. There’s no second thought with him. What you see is what you get. And that’s what I think makes you root for him somehow.

You did a fair amount of work to bulk up for this role.
I did a lot of boxing for a couple of months on a daily basis. I hit the gym at the same time because I had to gain some mass — and grow a belly at the same time, so I had to eat a lot of junk.

Rough training, having to eat junk food.
Oh, it was disgusting.

How daunting is it entering into the U.S. marketplace as a European actor, even with such a critically acclaimed film behind you?
The American movie industry is a huge machine. It’s a machine that can eat you and spit you out pretty fast. I just think you’ve got to stick with your instincts and try to know what you want and stand strong and go for that, and don’t lose yourself in whatever consideration that is not part of what you feel. Because if you start doing things for the wrong reasons, you’re going to end up at the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s not a position I want to be in. I’d rather do one thing a year than six or seven things a year just because. I don’t like doing things just because. I want to do them because they mean something to me. And I don’t want to romanticize or whatever, but I know I’m at my best if I truly care about what I’m doing, because then I have access to the best of myself, and that’s what I want to share. That’s why I love this. And all the rest, I don’t care.

Are you at all worried about getting typecast as a villain? Because that’s been known to happen to European actors in America.

Yeah, it’s an accent thing, I guess. A lot of European actors, if they have that they make them be a Russian guy or a German guy or, I don’t, a whatever guy. No no, of course. It’s something that you have to watch out for. I think it’s also about daring to be patient. Of course, you shouldn’t be too patient because otherwise people will just forget about you, but then if that happens then that’s the way it had to be. But I think being patient is a good thing.

Speaking of American films, up next, you have “Blood Ties.”

“Blood Ties” is directed by Guillaume Canet, who is Marion’s husband, and it’s his first American feature film. It has a great cast. We have Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, James Caan, Mila Kunis, Zoe Saldana and Marion Cotillard. It’s just a bunch of amazing actors. I’m a supporting character. By the beginning of the film he gets sent to jail and loses his family because of that, because his wife can’t take it anymore and says, “I’m leaving you” and she’s taking her kid with her. And once my character gets out of jail, the only thing he wants is his family back, but that’s where things get complicated. (laughs)



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Gunther from 'Friends' talks Central Perk

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."

Local

Central Perk opens in SoHo

Central Perk, of "Friends" fame, is giving out free coffee in SoHo through Oct. 18.

National

Beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch reproaches NFL over domestic abuse

Anheuser-Busch chastised the NFL for its handling of domestic violence cases, making it the first major advertiser to put pressure on the league.

Local

Sen. Krueger dishes on prospect of legal marijuana…

New Yorkers may see the legalization of recreational marijuana use as early as 2015 if State Senator Liz Krueger (D) gets her way. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will…

Music

FREEMAN makes Freeman a free man from Ween

For nearly 30 years, Aaron Freeman was known endearingly to his listeners as Gene Ween. But with "FREEMAN," he makes it clear that he's gone somewhere else.

Television

'Outlander' recap: Season 1, Episode 6: 'The Garrison…

Whipping, punching, kicking and a marriage contract. "Outlander" is not for the faint of heart this week with "The Garrison Commander."

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.

MLB

5 top contenders for NL Rookie of the…

The outing rekindled award talk for deGrom, who appears to hold the top spot for NL Rookie of the Year honors. Metro breaks down a few other contenders.

College

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

Style

Rachel Zoe: New York Fashion Week Spring 15

Rachel Zoe goes 'Glam bohemia' for Spring.

Food

Where to find SweeTango apples

Introduced in 2009, SweeTango — a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar — is a sweet apple with plenty of crunch.

Style

London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.

Food

Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."