The 35-year-old actor — who’s received strongly positive reviews for his work as Mickey, the suave, sophisticated Hollywood casting director who shares a disheveled bungalow, not to mention a drug and sex-ridden lifestyle, with his less self-disciplined buddy, Eddie — loves to travel.
Unlike many another actors, Hamilton likes long runs.
“To get a great part in a really strong play is rare,” he said over lunch near his West Village apartment. “I was in ‘Proof’ for a year. Working in a good play with people you like being around is like a dream job. For me, it’s the only time I have any kind of structure in my life. I get more reading done, more of a lot of things done, when I know that I have these few hours to be somewhere every night.”
And a long run has other rewards.
“I love the process of going deeper into a role, trying to find new things,” he said. “You do get into a rut once in a while, or get blocked, and you know you have to reinvestigate to role again, make it alive again. I like the challenge of a long run. It can be magical.”
“Hurlyburly,” the title of which is defined in Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, as “tumult” or “uproar,” will very definitely endure in the actor’s memory as one of those magical times.
“I’m having such a good time that I think I’d have stayed longer, but I think most of the cast, particularly the guys who have kids, wanted to get free to spend the summer with their children,” he said. I think some of the people will be leaving on July 2.” In fact, they all are.
As things worked out, the New Group, the production’s primary producers, decided to close the show rather than rehearse replacements and try to fight the theater’s traditionally difficult hot weather months.
“The guys in ‘Hurlyburly’ are based on real people, people who functioned in the Los Angeles scene in the early 1980s,” he explained. “They where casting directors on their way to becoming producers, and apparently they did have a kind of little home, or club, for divorced and separated men for a while there, and people could crash there, and Rabe spent some time there, and observed these guys.”
Hamilton was more or less born into the theater, since both of his parents, Dan Hamilton and Sandra Kingsbury, were actors. Hamilton’s father still acts, but his mother changed careers and now teaches pre-school. They divorced when Josh was three and a half.
“The theater was what I grew up knowing,” he recalled. “Nobody pushed me into it. I had no obvious affinity for anything else, so acting sort of became something I did after school.”
The actor’s intense and profound passion for travel may have developed from the first major trip he ever made on his own. When Hamilton was 18, and graduating from high school, his father gave him a trip to Ireland, in order to give him a sense of where his family’s roots could be found.
“I was there for about three weeks, and I just hitchhiked around. It was incredible,” he remembered. “You encounter a lot of nationalism, but not like the American variety, which can be a form of ugly pride. In Ireland, when you hitchhike, people are proud of their country and their culture, but in a wonderful way. They’d tell you about the history of the land, and if you went onto a pub, somebody would have a tin whistle, and everyone would end up singing. I’d just never had an experience like that in this country. I’m due for another trip to Ireland.”
Hamilton lives with Lily Thorne, his girlfriend of six years, and their dog, Zoey. Last year, the couple spent three months in mainly in Southeast Asia, with special emphasis on Burma and Cambodia. Among the places to which the actor would especially like to return at some point is, unsurprisingly, Angkor Wat, the temples that are Cambodia’s greatest treasures.
The actor found moving around Southeast Asia relatively easy and free of constraints, even in Burma, a country long thought to be difficult as far as tourists are concerned.
“There are hotels now that aren’t owned by the government, which means you aren’t necessarily supporting a questionable system,” he said.
The only country in which the couple had to hire guides who were, they knew, “minders” assigned to watch them, was Bhutan.
The trip was expansive, with time in Laos, Nepal and Vietnam, as well a Burma and Cambodia.
“We even managed to spend a little time in Thailand and India,” Hamilton said.
In 1996, the actor worked in a film, “Sky Burial,” shot in Tibet. As it happened, he’d been there as a tourist a year earlier. The film was never completed, mainly because the producers withdrew the funding.
“I do a kind of meditation called Vipassana, which is a very ancient technique. It was important in Burma, and sort of morphed into different forms as it accommodated itself to various areas throughout Asia. A succession of monks in Burma managed to keep it very pure,” he said. “There are centers all over the world, but particularly in Burma, and the monks welcome visitors, particularly of you’re interested in that form of meditation. You can stay at any of the centers, free of charge. It’s an amazing way of traveling, as opposed to just looking at things.
“There are 10-day courses, and you could do all of them all over the world,” he added.
Among the places the actor hasn’t visited are China and Hong Kong, but they’re on his list.
“I’d like to travel all the time, basically,” he admitted. “Ireland seems like a long time ago,” he said. “I was very naive then, and very limited in terms of experience. I’m really a different person now.”
When Josh Hamilton makes it back to Ireland, he may well find that there’ve been some changes there, too.