12/17/2007 at 01:00 AM EST
• The proud Chicagoan, 41, gets Oscar buzz as a dad who loses his wife in Iraq in Grace Is Gone.
THIS IS A REAL TEARJERKER. WHAT WAS THE DRAW? It came from a place of outrage when the war started and Bush banned photos of soldiers' coffins coming home. I wanted to cut through politics and get to universal truths about suffering.
HOW DID YOU PULL OFF LOOKING SO ... AVERAGE? It's a little bit of trickery and 10 extra pounds. If you wear tight pants, you look bigger.
STILL IN TOUCH WITH THE GIRLS WHO PLAY YOUR KIDS? I call when I'm in Chicago. I told [Shélan O'Keefe, 13] I'd meet her for tea, and I haven't yet. I've been properly chastised.