“Are you single?” shouts a middle-aged woman from the audience of the “The Human Stain.” The woman (sitting next to her now bitter husband) is gawking at the young, good-looking Wentworth Miller, who plays Coleman Silk in “The Human Stain.”

Janna Hutz
Quid pro quo. (Courtesy of Miramax)

The younger and older roles of Coleman Silk are played by Miller and Anthony Hopkins, respectively. Through a series of flashbacks told to Silk’s newfound friend, writer Nathan Zuckerman (Gary Sinise), the surprising truth about Silk is revealed. Silk has built his life upon a lie, and it all comes crashing down as he gets involved with a mysterious woman, Faunia Farley (Nicole Kidman).

Miller, who never shares a scene with Hopkins, skillfully achieves the hard task of creating one continuous character. He explained that he was sent “Hopkins’ part and they sent Hopkins’ a tape of my part and we tried to match them.”

Hopkins and Miller look nothing alike and their status in Hollywood is worlds apart.

Miller is more appreciative of what makes you a star, having witnessed the backstage world of Hollywood, and considers his start behind scenes invaluable. He compares making a movie to preparing a feast. Miller said, “Someone’s got to make all the food while the actor is just some person coming in off the street.” These days, with million-dollar budgets he thinks that “a lot of actors lose sight that so many people are busting their asses for them.”

Sitting down with him, he’s extremely laid back and courteous as he offers a glass of water. Miller said, “I’m not interested in the red carpets or the photographs. I’d like to have a career like Sinise or (Ed) Harris where I can choose projects that are meaningful.” The “Human Stain” is just this.

With such important and universal themes as aging, family and racial identity, Miller hopes that the issues will have an impact on the audience. Some issues are so controversial that Miller thinks, “Maybe in the audience, there’s some wife out there sitting next to her husband and he’s squirming in his seat. I feel sorry for him.”

Miller describes his character as a “transformation.” Miller, a bi-racial person, says that the racial tension in the movie has “a lot of resonance. What I admire most about this character is that he knows what he wants.”

It seems, however, that Miller doesn’t need to admire Silk because he himself knows what he wants to do: “Right now I’ve got my plate full with acting, but I can see myself getting involved as a producer.” With a resume including “The Human Stain,” work shouldn’t be a problem.

 

 

 

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