Why did you wait so long between directing projects?
"The timing for directing is usually a few years because it takes that long to develop a piece and then do preproduction and then postproduction. I prefer directing to doing other things. Directing and writing seem to be infinitely more creative. As far as how I’ve changed, all I’m trying to do is learn from people that I’ve worked with. I’ve worked with the Coen brothers and [Steven] Soderbergh and Alexander Payne. I’ve worked with really great directors over the years, and I just try to see what they’re doing and then steal it. The truth is my development is the same way as everything — which is I succeed some, I fail some, and I keep slugging away at it. It’s tricky directing yourself, obviously. I go, 'George, you were very good.'"
When it comes to motivation and inspiration, do you feel it has changed from when you started out as an actor?
"When you start out as an actor, you’re just trying to get a job. I wasn’t really motivated to be the sixth banana on The Facts of Life, but I was thrilled to have the job. For a long time, I have been interested in trying to find stories that are unique and also stories that aren’t necessarily slam dunks for the studio to make, that require us to pick up and carry it. But, it’s hard to make films like this. It was hard to get Argo made. With Good Night, and Good Luck I had to mortgage my house for it. Sometimes they’re successful and sometimes they aren’t, but they’re the ones we want to make."
What about shooting in Germany? How do you think the Germans are dealing with that part of history today?
"I feel bad for actors because for about 75 years German actors have had to play Nazis. You’re bringing them into read and you’re just going, 'I know. I’m sorry. But, I do need you to be really mean.' They’d try to be like, 'Well, maybe it was he joined because of…' and I’d go, 'No, no. He’s a bad Nazi. You’re going to have to just be bad.'"