How Wes Bentley Used His Troubled Past for His Role in ‘Knight of Cups’

The 'Knight of Cups' Trailer
This is what happens when you make a movie with a whole bunch of Oscar winners.
Successfully Rehabilitated Celebs
Stars who've battled their inner demons.

Wes Bentley is reliving his dark years in his new movie.

The actor, who previously struggled with a heroin addiction after breaking out in 1999’s American Beauty, admittedly saw a lot of himself in Knight of Cups, a film about a Hollywood screenwriter (Christian Bale) who becomes disconnected with everyone in his life after falling in with the partying crowd and their excessive ways. Though Bentley is now sober, he revealed to Celebuzz that making the Terrence Malick flick, which was shot on-location at various landmarks around Los Angeles, brought back old memories.

“For me, it was very accurate in the details to my own history,” he told us. “I knew all that stuff was going to play into it while we were shooting it.”

“I too moved out to L.A. away from an amazing family who loved me very much. When I went there, I forgot who I was. I forgot my family. I got lost in the trappings. I didn’t intend on living L.A. after shooting one film. I got stuck here. I was drowning in the quicksand,” he said. “It’s all these things I’m seeing on screen. I’m just like, ‘That’s me! That’s me in a more detailed way.'”

Wes Bentley Christian Bale knight of cups
CREDIT: Melinda Sue Gordon/Broad Green Pictures

Playing Bale’s brother, Bentley said he took inspiration from his own siblings who, in real life, had a very similar experience as his own character of trying to reach out to someone who was turning their back on family.

“It was very personal,” he told us of the process. “I have three brothers as well so I was applying myself and my own sort of history like that to the character. I was kinda using my brothers in different ways and their attempts to wake me up from my own slumber. As much as I use myself, I use my brothers as well. There were a lot of references I could identify with.”

Christian’s just amazing to work with. He’s always been attractive as an actor to me. He does exactly the kind of things that I was drawn to as far as process and style,” he explained. “We had a real connection right away. We had a real trust. I think he trusted me and I definitely trusted him.”

He added, “It also helped create that desire for connection that we needed for the characters.”

Wes Bentley Christian Bale knight of cups
CREDIT: Melinda Sue Gordon/Broad Green Pictures

Looking back at his own life, Bentley understood why his onscreen character had a hard time connecting with Bale’s character. After all, he was in the same shoes years ago when he ignored his own brother’s attempts to help him get clean.

“I used to think I could give advice, but I’ve learned over time that I’ve been sober—and as I get older—that there’s nothing specific you could ever tell anybody,” he said. “It’s mostly just remembering when someone loves you. When you have people that care about you, [you need to] listen to them most. My brothers, when they were reaching out, I should’ve listened to them. If nobody else, at least them.”

“Knight of Cups” opens March 4.