Scott Haze goes all in when he prepares for a role. For his breakout, 2013’s James Franco-directed “Child of God,” in which he played a homeless man, he shed 45 pounds and slept in caves. For “Thank You for Your Service,” which opens Oct. 27, he confined himself to a wheelchair for weeks to portray real-life disabled veteran Michael Emory. In “Only the Brave,” debuting Oct. 20, Haze plays another fact-based character, Arizona firefighter Clayton Whitted, part of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. He also directed the documentary “Mully,” about Kenyan doctor Charles Mulli, who runs a child rescue organization in Africa. The doc is set to hit theaters Oct. 3.
How did you prepare for “Thank You for Your Service”?
I quit walking for a month and a half, to get inside the mind of Emory. I fly out to San Antonio to meet him and stay with him. We go to Fort Sam Houston, and he says, “This is where I tried to get rehabilitation.” So here I am with the real guy, and they’re like, “Oh Emory, good to see you. Good to meet you, Scott. What would you like to learn?” And I’m like, “Why did you cut his rehabilitation off?” It was a really sad moment, because when they cut his rehabilitation off, he had said, “This is as good as I’ll ever get.” And that was as a soldier — one of our wounded vets.
You play another real-life hero in “Only the Brave.”
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I got to play a [firefighter] named Clayton [Whitted]; I spent a week with his father, and he said, “I always want to spend time with Clayton again, and I feel like I just did.” And when somebody looks me in the eyes and says that, that’s why I want to do parts like this. I also want to bring a story like “Mully” into the world. We need it right now in this country. We can change the world, I know we can, with [“Mully”].
What draws you to different roles?
I get hooked into different things. This wave right now, it’s kind of the heart behind it. It all has a purpose. What drew me to [“Thank You for Your Service”] was the idea of playing every soldier who’s been injured in our country. I was representing them; I was representing the wounded.
Things you didn’t know about Scott Haze
AGE: 35 HOMETOWN: Dallas YEARS HE’S WORKED WITH JAMES FRANCO: 15 THEATER OWNER: Proprietor of the Sherry Theater in North Hollywood, Calif.