Every so often I’ll briefly space out when talking to actors or directors in high-pressure situations. It happens infrequently, but it happens. Fatigue, social cowardice…something. I’ll stop listening for a few seconds, lose focus and briefly retreat into some private realm. And then I’ll snap back. 

I’ve never admitted this. At the same time it’s not a big deal. I’ve never embarassed myself or blown an interview because of these lapses. It’s just a small bug in the system.

It happened a few weeks ago when I was talking with Casey Affleck at a Manchester By The Sea party at the Toronto Soho House. I left my body for four or five seconds. Affleck noticed I was floating upwards and turned his attention elsewhere.

Three years ago I briefly spaced out when I was sitting next to David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence at an American Hustle party. “Jeffrey, why are you frowning?” Russell asked. “You’re sitting at the best table at the party.” If I had answered “I’m just having a space-out moment,” Russell would have felt insulted. I was angry with myself a bit later. Why did I do that?

Then again I’m not the only one. Anthony Hopkins spaced out on me when we were doing a phoner way back in the mid ’90s. He was answering a question in a cogent fashion and then his voice and tone changed, and the volume dropped. “He’s spacing,” I said to myself. It takes one to know one. Hopkins returned as soon as I asked another question.

I have to fight the space-out impulse as an indecisive alcoholic has to fight the urge to grab a drink. Every time I’m about to speak to someone in a professional situation, I tell myself “don’t mess this up…tighten up, screw it down.”