With a string of high-profile movies on the way — including Summit Entertainment’s “Gone” thriller that opens Friday (2/24) — Wes Bentley has built up a wave of fresh career momentum. He has a wife and a one-year-old son he adores at home. He looks great. Life is good. It’s hard to believe that between 2002 and 2009, the actor who rocketed to fame with the 1999 “American Beauty” hit the depths of addiction — alcohol, cocaine, heroin.
Coming off a week of following the sad news of Whitney Houston’s death, talking with Bentley has an alternate universe feeling about it.
“It’s upsetting,” he says, asked about the late pop icon. “I can’t speak to exactly where she was, but probably in a sad place. Doing that to yourself means you still haven’t found the right support or settled the emotions in yourself you need to settle. That kind of unrest is difficult to live with.”
Has he settled his own unrest?
“I have a great support system, and I have certain programs to help me,” he replies. “There’s a big barrier between me and my vices — a lot of phone numbers of people I can call, a child and family. There are a lot of reasons between me and falling back into that again.”
Bentley went public with his own story in 2010, telling of the years he barely worked and spent his time in clubs, hotel rooms, and drug dens. To see where he is now can offer a positive example for others trying to break the addiction cycle. “I hope so,” he says. “That’s the only reason I ever talked about it.”
That and, as he’s admitted, to help get his career going again.
The actor is in the much-anticipated March 23 release adaptation of Suzanne Collin’s novel, “The Hunger Games” — complete with an elaborately-defined beard that won its own fan following thanks to the trailer and advance publicity.
Now he has “Gone,” playing a police detective dealing with Amanda Seyfried’s character, a woman racing against time to rescue her sister from a serial killer. “I was attracted to this for a number of reasons — I’m a fan of (director) Heitor Dhalia, and also Amanda. I love working with her,” Bentley says. “And I like stories that empower women.”
Their scenes are intense, but, “We were laughing between scenes all the time,” Bentley says. “Amanda is funny. There’s a scene where I ask her to give me her number so I can get in touch with her — she typed in the number 1. She also introduced me to the honeybadger video while we were on that shoot.”
Bentley is also in Seyfried’s forthcoming “Lovelace” movie about porn superstar Linda Lovelace, playing the photographer who did the poster for ‘Deep Throat.'”
“It’s a great scene. He’s one of the more sensitive men to her in the story,” the actor says.
He’s currently shooting the apocalyptic Western-thriller “The Time Being” with Frank Langella, “who I just love. We get along great together. We’re kindred spirits, and very similar actors. It could be a pretty heavy movie, and we both like to joke around right up to the point of action, and then we’re both very focused and prepared. It’s an adrenaline rush.”
Bentley feels he’s found balance in his life. The celebrity that once overpowered him is no longer an issue. “I feel like I always wanted to do good work, and I’m doing that. I’m staying focused on the core of what is important to me — my family and being a good person. The rest is, you know, just another part of life. I don’t let it overwhelm me anymore. I’ve definitely seen a lot, gone through a lot — and no uncomfortable feeling with fame can compare to the stuff I’ve been uncomfortable with in life.”