There's been lots of love for James with all the critical acclaim surrounding Milk, and he recently opened up a little more about the experience of working with Sean Penn. He's also looking sexy on the cover of December's BlackBook, chatting with the magazine about going back to school — he's working on master's degrees at both NYU and Columbia — as well as his career and his past. Here's more:

  • On the unexpected success of Pineapple Express: "I find it ironic that I did a lot of serious movies that I worked hard on, and now I’m getting the most response to the movie where I roll a cross joint. The m.o. on that set was to have fun."
  • On his looks: "When I was in sixth or seventh grade I remember thinking that I wanted to be really buff, and work out a ton. That seemed really attractive to me. And now, I f*cking hate to work out. I hate spending time on anything physical like that. . . In the morning, I throw some kind of gunk in my hair."
  • On being a bad boy in high school: "I had to stop hanging out with a certain group of people, because I got in so much trouble with them. For some reason, I was like a magnet for the police. I would get caught for the stupidest things. . . wandering around drunk, stuff like that. They weren’t the worst people in the world, it was just that I was really dumb when I was around them."

To see more photos of James and what he has to say about school and learning to lighten up

  • On going back to school: "Going back to school has been life-changing and life-saving. I wasn’t on the point of suicide, but I wasn’t satisfied."
  • On getting personally involved in his work: "Movies have their own rewards for an actor. You can feel satisfaction for doing a movie that you believe in, or with critical praise, or good box office. As an actor, you can tell yourself that your self-worth isn’t measured by how your last movie did at the box office. But I found when acting was all I had, inevitably I would be emotionally affected by how well a movie did."
  • On lightening up: "I think I’m hopefully a much easier guy to be around with on set now,” he says, “just because a) I think I’m more communicative and b) It doesn’t always have to be doom, gloom and pain every second of the shoot."

James seems to be a little more introspective than the average actor, but it's great to see he's learning to enjoy some of the perks of his increasing fame.