Most American audiences know Rhys Ifans from his role as Spike in Notting Hill or will know him after seeing him as Ivan Schrank in the upcoming Greenberg. But he's also been stretching his legs dramatically, both on the screen and the stage, and he's playing real-life marijuana mogul Howard Marks in Mr. Nice, which premiered this week during SXSW. Ifans was a fan of Marks' before he'd even written the first autobiographical book that the film is based on, and according to him they entered a "pirate's contract" in which Marks had agreed to let him portray him if they ever made a film.

Remarkably, that actually ended up happening. We spoke with Rhys at SXSW about stepping into the role of a real life folk hero (or just hero if you ask Ifans), and he told us about the production, what it's like being an artisan, and why he continually tries to scare himself as an actor. Read on after the break for the full interview.