For my money, Ben Foster has been one of the best actors working in Hollywood for almost the past decade. After kick ass turns in films like 3:10 to Yuma and Lone Survivor, the actor is on the verge of one of his biggest years yet. I was lucky enough to sit down and talk to Foster as well recently about The Finest Hours, his newest film about one of the bravest rescue missions in U.S. Coast Guard history.
Foster talked about his preparation for his role in the film, the grueling shooting environment, his acting process in general, as well as teasing some very interesting pieces of information about Duncan Jones’ Warcraft, in which he plays one of the film’s most mysterious, and possibly powerful characters.
You can check out our full, insightful conversation below:
Before we even start, I just want to say how much I love 3:10 to Yuma…
“Oh thanks man, well I hope you dig, Comancheria, it’s this western that I did with [Chris] Pine, it’s kind of a neo western.”
I was going to ask you about that because I love David Mackenzie (the director). What’s the deal with that one?
“Well, Taylor Sheridan who wrote Sicario, wrote it, and Jeff Bridges is amazing. I’m excited about that one. I hope it turns out okay, and Pine is great in it.”
How were you introduced to The Finest Hours initially?
“I got a call. I was in London doing A Streetcar Named Desire, and I just got a call, and it was like ‘Do you want to go do this Coast Guard film? It’s about guys with values.’ And my agent is someone I’ve been with since I was seventeen and he knows me very well and he thought I would what this story was about. So I read it and it was a real quick fix, it was like ‘Of course, yeah. Yeah.’ I wanna go play in that world.”
Were you familiar with the story beforehand? What was your reaction to reading it?
“Well, it was like, ‘So four guys go out against seventy-foot waves, and save thirty-two people from a sinking steel ship?… And it’s true? And it’s 1952 and it’s also in the East Coast from a place that my family’s from, and I’m not playing a bad guy or a good guy, I’m just playing a guy who does is job, and that feels like, it felt at the time like a privilege to ask those questions.”
Did you have to prepare physically for the film at all, since it was probably a pretty grueling shoot?
“Yeah, I mean every job you have to prefer. I imagine there are a lot of people who just show up and magically deliver, I’m not one of them. More importantly I enjoy prep the most out of the whole process. I like homework, so getting time to spend with the Coast Guard and flipping through the old magazines and listening to the music and thinking about peeling away the cynicism of 2015 and what does it mean to serve. That’s the joy of the job man.”
What I really loved about your character was that you understood everything about his relationship with Bernie (Pine) almost instantly, from just his body language alone. How did you manage to do that, where you hint at their shared relationship without coming outright and explaining it to the audience?
“Well, thanks for saying that. Usually, I prefer to strip most dialogue out because the human body can say a lot. I told Craig [director] that I wanted him to shoot my back through most of the movie, or profile. He just couldn’t face Chris, he’s gonna give him his back until he earns his front. You want to be direct, he’s really direct, he’s like ‘I don’t believe in you,’ and he’s gonna be peripherally watching this kid through his hero’s journey. So structurally, the architecture of that was planned because it just felt right, if we just drop a few lines, and if you know what you want, yeah, the body can say a lot.”
Did you have to do much research about your human counterpart, in terms of him as a real life person when you were preparing?
“Well, I read a lot on the Greatest Generation, so it was more peripheral work. There’s just not a whole hell of a lot on my character, Richard Livesey, and what is there is all complimentary, salty man of the sea, who served his job and his crewmates well for many, many years.”
So do you just trust the script then to fill in the blanks?
“Well what was concrete about him, it was limited. It’s not always limited, but with this one, the guy came really quick. I liked the way he sounded, his sound came. I had just lost a lot of weight for another gig and I talked to Craig and I said, ‘How do you feel about me getting big for this one? I just kind of want to be a guy on a boat.’ Just a guy. Each job asks different questions, and you kind of just have to go on what you know and Craig was like, ‘Sure go eat a lot of hamburgers!’ And I was like, ‘O-kay.’ Happily.”
Before I go, I have to ask you about Warcraft because from the trailers alone, you character seems really interesting to me. What can you tell me about him?
“I don’t know what I’m allowed to say anymore. I think it’s been released that I’m playing Medivh, who’s a mage, who protects a realm with an incredible source of magic.”
Was Duncan Jones a big part of you agreeing to doing that movie?
“Absolutely. The fact that Duncan Jones was honing that project and he’s such a huge fan of the game and he’s a player as well. So the WoW is very well-supported within the crew. “
The Finest Hours is set to hit theatres tomorrow, Friday, January 29th.
Make sure to keep checking back for more updates — right here on GeekNation.
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