The Walking Dead head-buster fights Nazis with Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf in the David Ayer-directed WWII epic Fury. But before that, he was battling embarrassment and intimidation.
First time I was embarrassed:
In fourth grade, I was going out with this girl. There was a party on the last day of school and we met in the middle of all these people to finally have our first kiss. As she put her lips against mine, I started laughing. I had a cold and blew a big snot ball right on her cheek.
Last time I was embarrassed:
I was in New York getting a muffin and the lady behind the counter said, “I think I know you.” Being a total douchebag, I said, “Maybe you watched The Walking Dead or Wolf of Wall Street?” I started naming my acting credits and she listened to them all and said, “No, I just think you look like my friend Ray, from camp.”
First time someone intimidated me:
I got mugged on the subway when I was a little kid. My friends and I had gone through the turnstile and I went to make a phone call on the pay phone. This bigger guy came up to me, choked me, punched me in the stomach, and took my wallet.
Last time someone intimidated me:
Auditioning for Mr. Scorsese, for Wolf of Wall Street. I felt good about the material and what I could do with it, but that’s the danger of this job—when it’s a hero of yours or something that you really want, it can get the better of you. I walked out of that audition and went to the airport thinking there wasn’t a chance in hell I was gonna get it.
First memorable international trip:
I went to Moscow for the first time when I was 19, maybe 20, and it was a crazy time to be in that country because of its depression. I lived in a shady part of town and the experience opened me up as a man and as an artist. I figured out so much about the art there, and also about handling myself abroad. I saw dead bodies. Every week I had guns pulled on me.
Last memorable international trip:
The last trip I took was to shoot Fury. Seven months in a tank somewhere in England with Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, and Mikey Peña. It was an experience unlike any other that I’ve had. We ate together, lived together, slept together, pissed together—they’re my brothers now. The movie had a real cost, emotionally and physically, and I’m honored to be a part of it.
This article appears in Complex's October/November 2014 issue.