Emile Hirsch has never been a quitter. He’s been acting since he was 8 years old, and it never occurred to him to do anything else. In fact, he never did.
The star of projects like “Into the Wild,” “Lone Survivor” and “Killer Joe” says many of his roles have taught him something about himself.
That includes his latest as the notorious Clyde Barrow in the slick four-hour miniseries, “Bonnie and Clyde” which will be simulcast on Lifetime, A&E and the History Channel Sunday and Monday.
Hirsch agreed to do the show before he even saw a script. “They called me and said it was a miniseries about Bonnie and Clyde. I was just, like, IN. It’s such a cool premise. I immediately knew I liked it, and I would probably do it.
“Then I read the script and liked it and (the director) Bruce Beresford. Really, they were making ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ with an Academy-Award nominated director who’s directed classic films like ‘Tender Mercies’ and ‘Driving Miss Daisy.’ He is a first-class director, so if it was some guy who is not at the level of Bruce, it would be a much different thing.”
Hirsch has performed with several distinguished directors including Oliver Stone, Ang Lee and William Friedkin.
“Most of the projects I do scare me and are nerve wracking. I think I’ve got a personality where I get more enjoyment out of it the scarier it is. I don’t like if it’s just a boring, easy gig. Like even ‘Into the Wild,’ it was so hard compared to my past and the things I’ve done. It pushed me to do things I’d never done,” he says.
Also training with the Navy Seals on “Lone Survivor” taught him perseverance, Hirsch said.
It seems that Hirsch has always known what he wanted to do. When he was little, his parents split. His dad lived in Los Angeles and he stayed in New Mexico with his mom. But when he was 10 he moved to L.A. to live with his father, who was a producer.
“My dad proposed the idea and one of the selling points was, ‘If you move I know you want to act, I’m willing to help you out. We’ll get you a nanny and she’ll take you to auditions and stuff.’ So that was definitely a selling point. I really wanted to do that, and I knew that in Santa Fe, N.M., I couldn’t do what I wanted to do.”
Even then Hirsch didn’t suffer with the rejection that comes with the job. “I think I had kind of a thick skin so I thought, ‘Well, their loss,’” he said.
“I would get bummed, but I was good at thinking they were wrong most of the time. I had a belief in myself, and my father was really supportive of me. He was my coach-manager-right-hand, the old guy in the boxing ring who gives the guy the towel.
“My dad really fulfilled that role a lot when I was younger. He’d say, ‘They’re wrong.’ If I was rejected I rarely thought they were right. I usually just assumed they’d made a bad decision.”
On Oct. 27, Hirsch met a new challenge. He became the father of a son with an ex-flame. But he doesn’t want to talk about that.
“Bonnie and Clyde” will be simulcast at 9 p.m. Sunday and 8 and 9 p.m. Monday on A&E, Lifetime and the History Channel.