Lee, Scripps Howard News Service
January 20, 2004
Actor Elias Koteas is taking two
years off, without really meaning to. Best known
as the war weary commander in "The Thin Red Line" and
for his role as murderer Gary Gilmore in HBO's "A Shot
in the Dark," Koteas says the trick in acting isn't what
you do on stage, but what you do in life.
Now playing the DEA
agent who leads a party to steal a $10 million stash of
opium in USA Network's remake of "Traffic: The
Miniseries," he's back in the groove.
"I believe that what
goes off comes back," he says. "I find the more
closed-off I am as a human being it reflects in the
work. But there are some actors who can be totally
closed-off and you can't approach them who are just open
when you see them (work). For me, I have to live an
honest life and have to live a certain way in order for
me to come from it, because it's all about opening
yourself up," he says.
"I've always lived in
apartments and hotels, and when my dog died a couple
years ago I thought, 'Well, home is where my dog was,
now my dog's gone.' So I think my life was all over the
place. So consequently it didn't attract work. I didn't
want it. I needed to work on other things _ my life."
Koteas, 42, first
gained attention when he starred in David Cronenberg's
"Crush." Parts in "Harrison's Flowers," "The Adjuster,"
"Tucker," "Apt Pupil" followed.
He says he overcame
his malaise by going back home to Montreal where he grew
up in a tight, Greek community.
reintroducing myself to my family without any agenda,
just by being there. It's done wonders. What I'm now
looking for is a place I can hang my hat _ buy a piece
of land _ and some sort of grounding, because I get kind
of mercurial, with the wind," he says.
"I live in Montreal
in a house, had it since July, so it's empty. I have a
TV and a bed and a cable modem. This apartment in New
York is closing in February. It doesn't bug me. I feel
grounded. I feel I could have this conversation with you
and have a good attitude about this whole process
because I don't feel ahhhhh, ahhhh. I guess having
children, my mother says, brings meaning to your life."
Koteas divorced 12
years ago and has not remarried. He has no children and
he's non-committal about whether he has anyone in his
life now. "If I start feeling better about myself I
might be able to allow somebody to love on me and love
back and give. But right now there's people in my life
that are giving me so much encouragement it's like
beautiful air that's being blown into my life
unexpectedly these past couple months. I feel, 'OK,
Try as he will, it's
difficult for Koteas to separate himself from his work.
"I'm only as happy as I am creatively fulfilled. That's
how I've been. There's gotta be something else. I've got
to find something else to find joy that could also add
to the work," he says.