Giovanni Ribisi stars as the stockbroker with a conscience in the midst of the money-hungry world of Boiler Room. But the low-key and personable actor (who's already made an impact with memorable roles in Saving Private Ryan and The Other Sister) is far removed from his cutthroat, fast-talking screen persona. Having worked with directors like Steven Spielberg and Garry Marshall, Ribisi hasn't let his impending fame go to his head, keeping true to himself and following his other love, music, on the side.
On deciding to star in Boiler Room:
The moment I decided to make the movie was the first time I met (writer/director) Ben Younger. He was incredible. He was intelligent. He knew this (stockbroker) world, had been a part of it and worked on the script for four years. The movie's about the greedy side of life and becoming someone you hate, but also about taking on something that you don't recognize. Plus, there's a great cast. Ben was such a cool guy on the set, as well. I was shocked when I first got to the set. He was relaxed, confident, making all his shots. When you see the film it's just phenomenal. That's a first-time director there. He has the confidence of someone who's done it before. I think he has a bright future
On his cutthroat stockbroker character, Seth:
I don't hate him. I don't think it's good to hate any character that you're going to play. If you're going to play Adolf Hitler, then you've got to find something about him you like. I guess Seth has some decency and, compared to other characters in his world, a sense of honesty. His story is tragic. He has the world at his fingertips but travels down the wrong road. He was running a mini-casino out of his house! Seth is actually based on someone that Ben knew. To have that kind of mind and potential and just take it down the wrong road...It's sort of tragic.
On money in his life:
When I was younger, growing up and being on TV at 10, I just wanted to buy Legos. Today I try not to give money a significant place in my life, but I still overspend at times. Right now (wife and I) are putting more organization toward our finances and we're definitely trying to save money for our daughter. We want to be smart with our money, something I wasn't doing before. Now if I had to be a salesman like Seth, where money drove my life, I don't know how I would do. If I wanted to do it, I think I'd be good. I sort of feel like I'm always selling something, anyway. What are you talking about, man? (Laughs)
On working with directors:
Certain elements of moviemaking are extremely important: the acting, writing, directing, editing and so on. You can take the same exact performance and tweak it so that it goes in a completely different direction. You learn this from working with directors like Spielberg or Garry Marshall. Not only do you see the effect a director can have on a film, but you also learn from them. Actors can be some of the most insecure people on the planet. And when the director says, "No, we need to do it again! You messed up!" it can blow your confidence. When you work with a director who understands that and can handle the relationships with actors, you're lucky.
On life outside acting:
I'm putting together a band and have done some music for short films. Actually, we did the music for a short film at Slamdance, (trailer contains adult language) "7-Teen Sips." I've been a guitar player longer than I've been an actor. I just got a digital recording studio set up at home. I got together with some of my friends and we just started playing music. I'm working with an engineer and learning a lot about that, as well. I don't think I ever want to be a rock star, but doing music and playing on stage in front of people is an image that entices me. Acting always has the priority, though. Being the obsessive-compulsive person that I am, I remember practicing my guitar as a teenager for hours a day. So the music isn't something I want to throw away. If I end up with a huge library of music in my house that I've made just for my friends and myself, that's fine with me.