I never played sports or got into the whole guy camaraderie of, like, 'I love you, man! Seniors forever!' So suddenly being in the military with these guys who were under these very heightened circumstances, isolated from their families, living this very kind of Greek lifestyle, it changed my life in a really big way.
I'm one of those crazy people, if I'm watching the trailer for a movie and I'm really excited by it, I'll turn it off because I don't want to know anything. I want to be surprised because I love that more than knowing anything.
Something I learned in the Marine Corps that I've applied to acting is, one, taking direction, and then working with a group of people to accomplish a mission and knowing your role within that team.
In the military, you learn the essence of people. You see so many examples of self-sacrifice and moral courage. In the rest of life, you don't get that many opportunities to be sure of your friends.
I loved being in the Marine Corps, I loved my job in the Marine Corps, and I loved the people I served with. It's one of the best things I've had a chance to do.
I was in a mountain biking accident and broke my sternum about three months before my unit was supposed to deploy to Iraq, and it's such a close-knit community that the idea of not getting to go is hugely jarring, so I tried to get put back in training and wound up injuring it worse.
I auditioned in Chicago for Juilliard and didn't get in. I was basically living in a back room of my parents' house, paying rent and not doing anything with my life. I'd like to say it was patriotic to join the Marines, but it was also that I was doing nothing honorable with my life and spending too much time at McDonald's.
I think some of my best theatre training has been in the Marine Corps. Not only meeting a bunch of characters, but growing up. You're in really adult situations at a young age, as far as being in charge of people.
Just the service aspect of running a nonprofit is so gratifying because it takes the attention off yourself. I'm not an acting monk or anything. I'm not, like, the most well-adjusted actor. But it's really designed to focus on yourself, or it can be. So it's good to have something else to focus on that reminds you that it's not always about you.
Just having the internet is a weird and dangerous thing because people become accustomed to knowing things when they want to know them and not having to work for it. I definitely see the value in not knowing everything and having mystery in life and mystery in people.
By the time I got into Juilliard, I was working at a Target distribution warehouse. It didn't make anything, it just shipped things, and my job was just to stand there and look at the security codes on the back of trucks and see if they would lock, and check them in.
I actually run a non-profit where one of the main objectives is to branch out and get a new audience for the theater. Just because the writing is so good and nothing is more effective than seeing something live and happening right in front of your face, so I definitely want to continue to pursue that.
I did plays in high school, but I was convinced you couldn't make a living doing it. You don't have a lot of options in Indiana anyway, though, so I didn't want to stay there. I graduated early and worked a bunch of really odd jobs, and then I joined the Marines.
At Juilliard, suddenly I was reading these great plays that could articulate the ways I was feeling in the Marine Corps, and that felt very therapeutic, by putting words to feelings, in a big way.
With 'Girls'... I feel like there's an impulse to try to make it look better or neater or more perfect, and when I watch theater, television, movies, it's always the imperfection I'm always more attracted to.
There were definitely dark nights when you're like, 'Maybe joining the military wasn't such a good idea.' But, in a way, it was the best training to be an actor.
What is a struggle is that acting isn't a place where you go to work and you do that thing. There aren't set boundaries, like an office, where you go and work. For me, the work is always on my mind.
I was having an argument with my stepfather, and he was like, 'Why don't you join the Marine Corps?' And I was like, 'Noooo! Well, maybe, actually... ' I went and saw the recruiter, who was like, 'Are you on the run from the cops? Because we've never had someone want to leave so fast.'
I think it's a common misconception in the civilian community that the military community is filled with just drills and discipline and pain. They forget that these are humans who are in an abnormal situation.
Acting, to me, has been many things: It's a business, and it's a craft, and it's a political act - it's whatever adjective is most applicable.