He played both Winklevoss twins in The Social Network. Now, in J Edgar, he’s back to the one visage as the FBI head’s No. 2, Clyde Tolson
We hear it was a trip working with director Clint Eastwood on J Edgar?
My first day, I walked in and there was Clint, Leonardo DiCaprio and Judi Dench. I was like, “I am so out of my league.” That went away as soon as I realised what an epic guy Clint is.
Hoover and Tolson were the FBI’s ruling power couple for decades, but does the film spell out that they were lovers?
The movie shows they were companions but it’s up to the audience to make further assumptions.
What’s your take?
I would say that Clyde was more comfortable with his homosexual side. From the research I did, he was a guy who was like, “Look at my cuffs! Look at my suit!” He was very particular and very fancy.
Don’t you and Leo share a kiss?
Yes, but it’s not soft and tender, it’s a ferocious moment where years of pent-up sexual frustration come out at once.
What was it like sharing 90 per cent of your scenes with DiCaprio?
He’s so serious and focused. Clint would call “cut” and my reaction would be to start yakking with the crew: “Hey Bruce, tell me about the time you worked on Goonies!” Then I’d turn around and Leo would have his head in the script. I was like, “Oh right, we’re here to work.”
Did you expect the Winklevoss twins to be such a game changer?
No way. Bob Wagner, [director David] Fincher’s first assistant director, lives in my building and we were talking the other day. He goes, “Man, of everyone in The Social Network, who’d have thought that your career would be the one to pop?” I was like, “Gee, thanks Bob.”
Do fans come up to you and say, “You were fantastic in The Social Network – and please pass on my praise to your twin brother too…”
When it first came out, there were casting directors I’d known for years who would go, “I had no idea you had a brother!”
As the great-grandson of oil tycoon Armand Hammer, do you have an innate understanding of that blue-blood world?
I understood these entitled, feel-like-they-deserve-everything kind of guys because I’ve been around enough of them. At the same time they’re so different from me. I dropped out of high school to act; I’m the guy who’d rather put make-up on his face.
How did you avoid becoming one of them?
I spent part of my childhood in the Cayman Islands, where the only things that were important to me were my dirt bike and my machete. I spent so much time outside and by myself, I think I missed the chance to turn into an asshole.
Do you ever get hammered for your name?
When I first meet people, I get, “Where’s your brother, Navy?” or “Any relation to M.C.?” It’s like, “A-ha-ha, good joke! Thank you for proving that I don’t want to be friends with you.”
Next up is The Lone Ranger, with Johnny Depp as Tonto. Have you been practicing with the mask?
Yes. It’s creeping my wife out.