“It’s so much fun to be bad.”
Recent gossip blog headlines might make this the least surprising statement ever uttered by Ryan Phillippe. But all kidding aside, Phillippe is, of course, talking about his on-screen behavior in “The Lincoln Lawyer."
“I don’t know what this says about me, but it’s so much fun to play the villain,” Phillippe tells PopcornBiz. “When you’re the protagonist or the hero of a movie, there are rules. You need to keep the audience on your side, you have to be conscious of the way that character will be perceived. With a bad guy all that goes out the window. There’s so much license, and in fact your aim is to not be liked. It’s a lot of fun.”
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Phillippe’s encountered his share of privileged, entitled and dark-edged types that, like his character, prowl dangerously through the fringes of Hollywood.
“You see those personalities around this town,” he says. “A lot of times it’s rich kids whose parents enable them and their behaviors – these kids have developed a sense of entitlement and arrogance and the belief that they can get away with anything, literally.”
It’s not a lifestyle he can relate to, he says. “I have in my career a couple of times been cast as a person of privilege, and I grew up lower middle class,” he explains. “My parents struggled to pay the bills. For some reason, I get thought of for roles like this. But it is interesting for me to get into that psyche. Maybe there was part of me that was envious or jealous of that growing up. I like trying to see it from that side.”
And while he has no shortage of starring roles ahead, Phillippe’s also got a nice backup plan in place: “I’m an investor in Craig’s, the hottest restaurant in town right now,” he says. “There was one Thursday in particular where Don Rickles and Bob Newhart were eating together, and in another booth was Scarlett Johansson.”
“It’s so far from what I do, and I’m really curious about it, just to see the changes and getting input from the patrons,” he adds. “What we’d ideally like, obviously, is for it to become a Hollywood institution, for it to last as long as something like Chasen’s or Morton’s did.”