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Joseph Cross on Running with Scissors

Published October 21, 2006 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of TriStar Pictures.
Running with Scissors Joseph Cross in Running with Scissors
2006 is a big year for Joseph Cross, with the lead role in Running with Scissors and a part in the ensemble of Flags of Our Fathers. A 10 year veteran of Hollywood, Cross paid his dues on the TV circuit, with occasional film roles like M. Night Shyamalan’s forgotten pre-Sixth Sense film. Scissors asks him to play real life author Augusten Burroughs, who survived a childhood of insanity with his improperly diagnosed mother and her psychiatrist’s eccentric family.

Joseph Cross Talks Running with Scissors


“At first the idea was really daunting because I wanted to do Augusten justice and I wanted to do the book justice,” said Cross. “The people that liked the book loved the book. I mean loved the book and can recite passages and so I knew people would be very critical of who they got to play the memoirs. And so it was a little scary for me at first and I didn’t know what Augusten was going to think of me or whether he was going to think I even looked the part or could do it because I haven’t really done anything before this that would have shown that I could do it except for the auditions I did for Ryan. But when I met Augusten, he was so kind and so encouraging and gracious and sweet that I think that that was the moment where I was like, ‘OK, I can do this.’ It was really scary up until then and then to have his blessing was sort of like setting me free to go and do it.”

Getting to know Augusten helped Cross nail the tone of Running with Scissors. “When I was reading for Ryan [Murphy] and for Dede [Gardner], they [said], ‘He’s not getting the humor of it. He’s making it so dark.’ And I couldn’t bring myself to give humor to it because I thought that they wanted to make it cheesier, they want to make it cheap because it didn’t seem right to be funny because it wasn’t funny to me. It was so dark, so sad. But when I met with Augusten, the way that Augusten tells stories from the time it’s with such a wonderful sense of humor and wit that I understood that that was the defense mechanism, that was his saving grace. It was to be able to step back and laugh at the absurdity of it so that was really. Meeting with Augusten was where I understood that I needed that little hook, that comic edge for the character.”


Jumping from this character piece to Clint Eastwood’s war movie gave Cross the full gamut of Hollywood experiences in one year. “Running with Scissors was a lot about me internalizing and me reacting and processing things. That was a character that was very thoughtful, very introspective, and very bright in a movie that was very character driven and smaller. The budget was smaller and the days were very different and to go from that to Flags, it feels epic to me when I see it and when we were doing it. There were days when we would have with 800 extras and 20 tanks on a beach in Iceland and I was with these eight other lead guys all dressed in military garb with these real guns that we were handed that we had to learn how to shoot and everything. That character was about putting everything out there at every moment. He’s very, very outspoken and he’s never afraid to share what he thinks which is what makes people laugh at him all the time because a lot of what he says is silly and just not very well thought out. There’s no filter on him. So they’re two tremendously different movies and tremendously different characters. It was perfect for me to follow Scissors with that because I was able to really just get rid of all this, completely out of me and pull something else in.”

With such a high profile year, the offers for 2007 will surely pour in, but Cross’s life remains normal. “The people that I keep close to me are the people that I’ll always keep close to me and they’re good friends from high school, and even middle school and elementary school, and family. I don’t live here [in L.A.] so I’m not that tempted to be like going out and making the cool celebrity friends and getting your picture taken with whoever is important at the moment. For me, it’s just about going and doing good work with people that I want to work with in films that I would enjoy watching, then going home. I don’t know what I’m doing next. I want to find something that’s different but it has to be on par with these two movies. I can’t do anything that’s not.”

Running with Scissors is out in theatres now.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of TriStar Pictures.
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