- Emile Hirsch’s acting process involves fusing together various influences to create something new, like a collage or art piece.
- Hirsch looked to Heath Ledger and Sean Penn for inspiration in his role in the movie Walden.
- Surprisingly, Hirsch also includes SpongeBob SquarePants as one of his influences for his acting process.
Emile Hirsch, while discussing his acting process for the upcoming movie Walden, disclosed that he took inspiration from both Heath Ledger and Sean Penn for his performance. Hirsch plays the lead role of Walden Dean in the thriller and shared that he had talked to Ledger “a long time ago” about shaping characters, and also drew inspiration from Penn’s Oscar-winning work in Milk.
Hirsch elaborated, “The process… was something that I talked to Heath Ledger about a long time ago, and it’s a conversation that’s always stuck with me. We talked about creating characters and how sometimes you can almost look at acting like you’re assembling a collage or an art piece, and you’re fusing them together into something new. I felt that’s probably what this particular part called for… I tried to take sources of inspiration that I knew I liked. I knew there was an exuberance to what Sean Penn did in Milk. This character is obviously nothing like [Harvey] Milk, but there was an exuberance that I really loved.”
Previously, Hirsch had worked with both Ledger and Penn, in the 2005’s Lords of Dogtown and 2008’s Milk respectively. These experiences left lasting impressions on him that he carried into his role in Walden.
Beyond Ledger and Penn, Hirsch also spoke of other surprising influences, such as SpongeBob SquarePants. He explained, “I’m someone that has gotten so much out of recognizing patterns and making sense of that… so often I find with acting or even writing, or even influences you have in life, that they manifest in different ways. You know, watching SpongeBob with my son and working and taking advice from Heath Ledger on Lords of Dogtown, years and years ago, or working with Sean Penn and Milk… all these types of things. I’m someone that’s really a large result of my influences. And being able to fuse together those influences, I think that’s a powerful tool to have.”
Walden, written and directed by Mick Davis, follows Hirsch’s character, Walden Dean – a stenographer who witnesses various injustices in the courtroom. After discovering he has a terminal illness, his repressed anger comes to the surface, leading him to take justice into his own hands. The movie is set to be released On Demand and Digital on December 12th, 2023.