It felt like Faulkner and Melville but with grisly scenes of murder and atrocity that gave the flavors of the old masters a new, contemporary, and strangely authentic feel; as if McCarthy had actually been there, otherwise how would he know such idiosyncratic details? Yet Blood took place in the middle of the 1800s and McCarthy wrote it in the middle of the 1980s. He could capture such an authentic tone simply because he was a master. A joke P.T. Anderson told me after watching my film, Child of God:
What’s the difference between Cormac McCarthy and God?
McCarthy is God.
Later, after acting in Freaks and Geeks, James Dean, City by the Sea, and Spider-Man, I went back to UCLA to finish my bachelor’s degree in English. I was older than most of the other students by six years, but I did it because I was serious about literature, and because the UCLA English department at the time (before the housing crash) boasted some of the top scholars in the country.