The star of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. has had a pretty charmed life. Grew up in the Cayman Islands. Got rich and famous by playing the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network. Has more talent than anyone who looks like he does has any right to have, without making the rest of us question the justice of the universe. Has a gorgeous wife and a six-month-old daughter. Is 6’5” and stupidly handsome. An actor perpetually, even frustratingly, on the verge of total Hollywood domination. Although, after this summer’s Guy Ritchie reboot, he may just finish his inevitable take over. Sure, it’s a spy thriller, but it also gives Hammer the chance to show some range. And he’s got that. Big time. Did we mention he’s 6’5?
Tell me a little bit about your movie UNCLE. Were you a fan of the original?
I think I might have been a little bit young for it. I didn’t even know about it. I booked the job and thought that the title was a little strange. Once I found out about the original, I ordered the disc set off Amazon and it was great. Even thought we weren’t replicating anything or copying anything, it was good to see where the bones of it came from.
Honestly, I think when I was a kid I wanted to be a stunt driver more than anything else.
Reboots are so popular. Do you have any thoughts on why now is the time for this particular one?
I mean, if I was going to get technical, I’d say something like the copyrights are probably about to expire [laughs]. It’s never far from a business decision.
How did you learn your character’s Russian accent?
It’s funny, my dad’s side of the family is all Russian heritage and I felt like I’ve always been around Russian stuff. I was just pulling up what I remembered about how people sounded.
When you were growing up, was acting always the thing?
Honestly, I think when I was a kid I wanted to be a stunt driver more than anything else. But, besides that, acting was always the thing. It was what I loved. Movies were always a passion and an escape. I think I went to the movies almost every weekend. I always knew I wanted to make movies, they were so important to me. I can’t imagine myself not being involved in this business in one way or another.
What was it like growing up in the Cayman Islands?
It was great. It was probably like what growing up in the 30s and 40s in the US was like. I never worried about anything. I’d get home from school, throw down my backpack and go out to run around with my friends. If I wanted lunch, I’d go out a cut down some fruit. It was very Swiss Family Robinson. I grew up not watching television or playing video games. I just played and used my imagination.
Do you think about that kind of life more now as a father?
I push every day for us to raise [my daughter] in the Caribbean. It’s the greatest gift you can give to a child, to let them have a childhood.
Speaking of, how’s fatherhood treating you?
I gotta say, I love it. There’s nothing about it that I haven’t enjoyed. Even being awake during the night, you get to see things and be a part of things that otherwise you wouldn’t. Just to see the smiles, it’s all magical. It’s the same thing that every parent goes through, but somehow you think you’re the only person who is experiencing it.
I love working on these small, art-and-content-driven projects. I get to work with people who are invested and interested, not just to get a paycheque.
Who were your acting heroes?
Paul Newman was probably one of the guys. Cool Hand Luke is my favourite movie of all time. He exemplified someone who was able to have a really long career, yet avoid all the troubles and pitfalls of the business. It really seemed like he enjoyed himself, his life and his wife.
Do you want to try your hand at anything else in the industry?
My wife and I have been producing more and more, which has been great. We were able to sell a show to NBC last year and are working on a couple movie ideas. First and foremost, I’d love to keep working as an actor. It’s my focus and it’s what I love. I’d like to do it as long as they’ll have me. My end game is to hopefully direct, though.
You’ve been doing a lot of blockbusters, is that what you’re trying to stick with?
No. Those movies are great and I walk away thinking ‘what a great ride.’ But, I finished a movie a couple of months ago called Mine that I was actually one of the producers on as well, and we were sleeping in hostels to shoot that movie out in the middle of nowhere, off the coast of Africa. I love working on these small, art-and-content-driven projects. I get to work with people who are invested and interested, not just to get a paycheque. I get to walk away thinking ‘I am completely satisfied.’ On big blockbusters, you can go weeks without saying a line because they’re working on the technical side of it, trying to match up your small movements with CGI. But, it’s all fun and it’s all part and parcel with what we’re doing.