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Taylor Kitsch on ‘True Detective’ Audition, Rise to Fame at Film Independent Talk

The first time Taylor Kitsch met with “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto, the two spent 11 hours together in a tavern.

Things simply clicked between the two and it clearly worked in his favor, as Kitsch now plays highway patrolman Paul Woodrugh on the show. Kitsch spoke with Toronto International Film Festival artistic director Cameron Bailey Thursday night as part of a Canada’s Top Ten Films event through Film Independent at LACMA. They covered his entire body of work, from “Friday Night Lights” to his role as a South African photographer in “The Bang Bang Club.”

Kitsch said he was sold on joining “True Detective” from early on.

“I love season one and I think that tone and everything I can contribute to and be a part of and I can do some good work on that,” Kitsch said he told his representation when they told him they were campaigning to get him on the show. “I love the writing.”

He was initially discovered on the streets of Vancouver, pegged as a model. “A really unsuccessful one,” Kitsch joked.

Bailey asked Kitsch how he snagged the role of Tim Riggins on “Friday Night Lights.” The creators wanted him to read for the role of Jason Street, but Kitsch felt he could depict Riggins with more authenticity.

“I love, obviously, the tortured stuff,” Kitsch said. “I just felt I could relate. It was more fun for me. I could engage on a deeper level.”

During his audition, Kitsch performed the famous “Texas forever” speech from the show. Before he walked in, his manager gave him words of encouragement.

“‘You’re going to be fine. If you do what we just did in (practice), you’ll be just fine. But f—in’ get rid of that Canadian accent.'”

The Canadian-born actor said he had a “stereotypical” Canadian upbringing, from living next to a frozen pond to taping couch cushions to his legs to play hockey. But his start in acting didn’t bring instant success. He was homeless for awhile and taking any job he could get, working for under-the-table cash at bar mitzvahs and dance clubs.

“I was very stubborn and still am,” he said about forging past the hardships. “I pride myself on hard work and outworking people.”

For his role as Kevin Carter in “The Bang Bang Club,” a true story of four photographers in South Africa during the transition from apartheid, Kitsch said he lost 35 pounds by running 13 miles a day and eating fruit, broccoli, hot sauce and coffee. He also took up smoking for the role.

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