A dusty, menacing Wild West outlaw. A rock star.
Ordinarily, the chasm between the two — not just in years, but in style, attitude and purpose — would prove too great to find embodied in one character. Indeed, they seem like individuals from two completely different Hollywood scripts.
But Ben Foster made a concerted effort to meld the two in his portrayal of Charlie Prince in James Mangold’s oater remake of “3:10 to Yuma.” The result was one of the more mesmerizing villains of the past year.
“In addressing the script,” Foster explains, “I worked with Arianne Phillips, the wardrobe designer, to pursue more of a glam-rock vibe. There is a certain sexuality in glam-rock performances.”
The result was a flamboyant psychopath in duster and cowboy hat, fanatically loyal to gang boss Ben Wade, played by Russell Crowe. Aside from the chance to revel in a juicy villain and work with Mangold, Foster says he was particularly excited to work with Oscar-winner Crowe.
“It was one of the great joys of my acting career,” Foster says. “He really is misrepresented in the press. He doesn’t suffer fools well, but if you’re ready to work and care about what you do… . He was incredibly over-the-top generous with me.”
The 27-year-old Foster has been working steadily since 1996 and may be best known to audiences for playing Claire’s troubled on- and off-again boyfriend Russell Corwin in HBO’s critically praised series “Six Feet Under.”
That and other notable parts in films such as “Alpha Dog” and “X-Men: The Last Stand” — and an underappreciated turn in the Bruce Willis starrer “Hostage” — have raised his profile in the past few years.
But, he says, he makes sure not to approach any role with the notion that he has “arrived.”
“Any actor or artist who says he doesn’t have fear is a liar,” he says. “I have to learn how to act with every new job, top to bottom. The experience is always about making room for this (character) to come through.”
Favorite film: “Into the Wild,” “No Country for Old Men”
Young actor you admire: Ellen Page
What you want in a director: “A director’s intuition is as strong as her preparation.”
Vice: “Jameson, cigarettes, sex and not in that order.”