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Why ‘American Assassin’ Star Taylor Kitsch Loves Playing the Villain

It’s good to be bad, Taylor Kitsch admitted at Tuesday’s premiere of CBS Films-Lionsgate’s action-thriller “American Assassin” at the TCL Chinese Theatre.

“Somebody has to be the villain and I love being that bad guy,” mused Kitsch at the poolside after-party at the Hollywood Roosevelt. “The scary part for me is that my character Ghost is so matter-of-fact about it all.” Kitsch portrays an American planning an attack on the U.S.

The studios opted to forego the red carpet and donate those funds instead to the “Hand in Hand” hurricane relief telethon, also held on Tuesday night. According to a CBS spokesperson, $10,000 was raised for the cause.

Kitsch also said he was particularly pleased to star opposite Michael Keaton and Dylan O’Brien. “Keaton is a blast to work with and to do torture scenes with a guy like that — well, there was too much there on the table to say no.”

Veteran producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura said he was pleased that the film, shot in London, Rome, Malta, and Thailand, looks like a big-budget movie.

“We didn’t have that much money so going around the world made it feel much bigger,” he noted. “One of the things I learned from Michael Bay is how to make things feel bigger than they are. I get a lot of pleasure out of surprising the audience.”

Director Michael Cuesta said he was thrilled about an augmented reality sequence in which O’Brien is trained by Keaton to deal with a wide variety of potential criminals.

“The big challenge was to marry action and emotion,” he added. “I came up with that AR sequence because I wanted to show that bad guys come in all shapes and sizes.”

The screenplay is based on Vince Flynn’s novel of the same name. Sanaa Lathan, David Suchet, Navid Negahban, and Scott Adkins also star.

“American Assassin” opens Friday.

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