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Forums Index -> Out of Genre Experience -> Wes Bentley Rebuilding His Career After Downward Spiral
FilmCritic3000
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:18 am  Reply with quote



Joined: 20 Jun 2006
Posts: 2683
Location: Savannah, Georgia

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/08/theater/08bentley.html?pagewanted=1&ref=theater

Quote:

February 8, 2010
Back From the Depths, Rebuilding a Career
By PATRICK HEALY

Sitting in the Off Broadway theater where he has begun to put his career back together, in the new play “Venus in Fur,” the actor Wes Bentley takes a deep breath, leans forward in his seat, and starts answering the obvious question: What happened to him after the film “American Beauty”?

Eleven years ago Mr. Bentley was a 21-year-old Juilliard dropout living in Los Angeles with a Polaroid for a head shot and not enough money to eat at Taco Bell. But after his performance as the stoner-voyeur Ricky Fitts in “American Beauty,” which won the Academy Award for best picture, he was riding in limos and drawing paparazzi. Admiring film critics were forecasting a bright future for him.

“I wanted fame, but I thought it would be incremental, and I became afraid of the overnight-sensation thing,” Mr. Bentley said, speaking to a reporter about his life since “American Beauty,” after a decade of keeping his own secrets. “I started walking into rooms, and everyone would look at me, and I would freeze up. People kept saying, ‘You have to find your next movie,’ and that didn’t make life any better.”

His is both a familiar and cautionary Hollywood tale. After his initial success, Mr. Bentley said, he turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with the stardom that he was unprepared for, and then addiction took over his life for several years.

The son of two United Methodist ministers in Arkansas, Mr. Bentley said he abandoned the spirituality of his youth and turned to partying in a group house that he shared with the actors Brad Rowe and Chad Lindberg, among others. Soon his recreational use of marijuana and alcohol, which began as a teenager, exploded into cocaine and Ecstasy and other pills. Eventually heroin had him completely.

One of Mr. Bentley’s housemates at the time, Tony Zierra, a budding movie director, caught some of this chaos on tape for a film about his friends trying to make names for themselves.

“The house became completely swept up in the Hollywood machine, and for Wes it was very overwhelming,” said Mr. Zierra, whose first attempt at the film fell apart but is now trying to finish a new edit, with the title “My Big Break.” “It happened too fast, Wes was too young, and there was money and free time and this sense among Wes and others that once they got their break, the jobs and scripts would just keep coming.”

“American Beauty” opened the door for Mr. Bentley to many other opportunities, like talking to the director Gus Van Sant in 1999 about starring in “Brokeback Mountain” before Ang Lee was chosen to direct it. But when he wasn’t working, Mr. Bentley’s drug use escalated. In 2000 he won a lead role in “The Four Feathers,” which involved exhausting shoots in London and Africa. The movie was released to poor reviews in 2002, by which time Mr. Bentley was back in Los Angeles and his drug use was accelerating.

He would spend nights doing cocaine at clubs and then sleep until 5 p.m. Eventually his friends, concerned about him, refused to join in, and he would drive around the city alone in search of heroin. He said he spent days in drug dens. At the same time, he said, he had “stacks of scripts, great scripts with great offers attached,” that he would never read because of his addiction. (His longtime manager, Van Johnson, declined to comment for this article, saying his company did not allow him to speak about clients.)

From 2002 to 2009, Mr. Bentley said, he stopped caring about acting, and only did the occasional film for money to pay bills or buy drugs. In 2001 he married Jennifer Quanz, an aspiring actress he met at his group house two years earlier, but their relationship frayed as he hid his drug use and disappeared for hours or days. He moved out of their home in 2006 and holed up in a new apartment, doing drugs pretty much full time. (He and Ms. Quanz are in the process of divorcing.)

In 2008 Mr. Bentley was arrested and pleaded guilty to heroin possession and to trying to pass a counterfeit $100 bill. He was mandated to community service and counseling and 12-step programs, but he relapsed. He continued using heroin until he was broke, he said, and began trying to get sober until finally, back in Los Angeles after a vacation, he hit his bottom last July.

“I had come back to L.A. for something, and I drank a whole bottle of Scotch, and I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to die in this hotel room with this bottle of Scotch,’ ” he said. “It was after that I told a friend for the first time: ‘I’m a drug addict, and an alcoholic, and I need help. I need help or I’m going to die.’ ”

Mr. Bentley briefly entered a rehabilitation program and began attending 12-step program meetings on his own, which he said he still does.

He said that he was now seven-months sober and wanted to share his story in the hope that he might help other young actors who are overwhelmed by success. He also readily acknowledged that there is a self-serving aspect to disclosing his story.

“I want to earn more work because I’m doing good work,” he said, “but people were questioning if I was even in shape to do auditions. Telling my story is a way to say, ‘I’m O.K., things are better.’ ”

Not that Mr. Bentley believes that he is poised, at this point, to reclaim the stardom of a decade ago. “Venus in Fur” opened last month at the Classic Stage Company to generally positive reviews — and was recently extended through March 7 — but it was his co-star, Nina Arianda, who earned the raves. Reviewing the production in The New York Times, Charles Isherwood wrote that Mr. Bentley was effective in some scenes but, compared with Ms. Arianda, was “a less forceful stage presence, although his piercing eyes suggest the possibility of simmering depths.”

Walter Bobbie, the director of “Venus in Fur,” said that he was pleased with Mr. Bentley’s performance, and that it was not lessened by Ms. Arianda’s star turn. “I don’t think anyone wins like this by himself or herself,” he said of his two cast members.

Mr. Bobbie said he had heard inklings about Mr. Bentley’s personal problems before his audition but was impressed with his enthusiasm for the play, which some other actors had been leery of because of the unflattering turns that the character takes.

“We needed a man of genuine effortless sexuality and confidence, and Wes delivered that,” Mr. Bobbie said. “As for Wes’s personal life, I’ve always believed that you never make a decision based on rumor. You meet a person and make your own history with them.”

Mr. Bentley said he wanted to be in “Venus in Fur” as soon as he read the script, but he was also just as eager to get any work, even if it paid pennies compared with film. As for sobriety, he emphasized that he was still at an early stage, and that he knew his own story might not be enough to sway a full-blown addict. Still, he said, he wished that when he was in his early 20s he had heard a story like his own.

“This would have helped me, at least, if someone would have made me realize that you don’t need to do drugs to be artistic and express yourself,” Mr. Bentley said. “If you want to be artistic, if you want to be creative, if you want to express yourself, you can’t let things get in your way, and drugs are included in that.”

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YouGetNoArt4freeFanBoys
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:31 am  Reply with quote



Joined: 05 Feb 2010
Posts: 204

MAYBE if the actor in question had been smart enough to attempt to star in a MONSTER movie within 2 years of American Beauty, he'd have had no worries.
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