Emile Hirsch: 5 Things to Know

The star of 'The Motel Life' has been extra busy lately

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Emile Hirsch attends the Apple Store Soho Presents "The Motel Life" at Apple Store Soho on Nov. 5, 2013 in New York City.

The actor Emile Hirsch can be seen this Friday in the new movie The Motel Life (Nov. 8) — in which he and Stephen Dorff play down-on-their-luck brothers — but that’s far from the only place he’s turning up. TIME spoke to Hirsch about what else he’s got on the docket.

He just became a dad

Hirsch made news earlier this week with the surprise announcement that he had a newborn son: Valor, born Oct. 27.

He doesn’t go out of his way to find gritty roles …

Hirsch is no stranger to nonconformist characters like the one in Motel Life. “I saw something that someone had written, that I’m in my kind of white-trash era lately. I’ve played like four down-and-dirty characters in a row,” he says. “It’s kind of a coincidence but I do find that sometimes the grittier roles are the more interesting ones, as an actor. There’s no conscious decision but maybe the filmmakers are seeing me that way.”

…but he does identify with his Motel Life character

Hirsch’s character in his latest movie, based on a novel by Willy Vlautin, is a powerful storyteller, and his tall tales are brought to life with illustrations by Mike Smith. That’s a quality with which Hirsch could identify. “I was always someone who enjoyed making up little wild tales or funny things that had happened to me growing up, and I’ve always sort of been attracted to people that also do that, and I think becoming an actor is almost an extension of being a storyteller in a certain sense,” he says. “Now if I do it, I won’t necessarily do it out loud. I’ll write a script or something.” (But he’s not the best storyteller among his friends — he says that honor goes to the actor Kick Gurry, who appeared alongside Hirsch in 2008’s Speed Racer.)

He had never seen the 1967 film version of Bonnie and Clyde when he signed on for the upcoming take on the story

Speaking of gritty: Hirsch will star as Clyde Barrow in the upcoming TV take on the story of Bonnie and Clyde (airing in December), but he hadn’t seen the classic Warren Beatty/Faye Dunaway film when he signed on — and didn’t watch it till he was done shooting. The result, he says, is a Clyde who’s stoic rather than sly. One contribution to that character choice was that the real-life gangster was a “scarred for life,” Hirsch says, by experiencing prison rape during a jail stint prior to his famous crime spree, something Hirsch discovered while researching Barrow’s life.

(MORE: Top 10 Crime Duos: Bonnie and Clyde)

He only heard about the John Belushi project a few months ago

Hirsch’s most buzzed-about recent announcement has been that he’ll play John Belushi in the upcoming biopic about the comedian — but even though the project has been brewing for a long time, Hirsch only found out about it recently. “It’s going to be a real educational process and an exciting opportunity,” he says. “Obviously it’s a tremendous role.”