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Playing a character based on a real person, is that different for you than playing a character who is completely fictional?
Absolutely. There's just a sense of wanting to get it right, and get it close to what the person was like if you can. Or if you choose to. Something you can choose not to for a creative decision for whatever reason, which is also fine. In this particular project, Danny was loved by so many friends and family. And talking to them in preparation for the role was really an eye-opener, and reminded me this is more than just a movie. This was these peoples' lives. This is their son and their brother, someone who really was an honorable person, who deserves to be taken seriously and respected and honored with the best that I could do.
And of course Luttrell was on set, right?
Luttrell was on set, except for the actual gun fight itself. I think that would have been too much. I don't know about too much, but probably just best he wouldn't be there for that part.
Yeah, that seems--oof.
Yeah, it's surreal enough to see a movie made about your life but to see a movie being made about the absolutely worse day of your life? Worst week of your life? I think that would have been really tough.
How much did you know about the SEALs before the film?
Not a ton. I mean I feel like I sort of knew what the average person would know about SEALs.
And now do you feel you know a lot more having had to walk in their shoes to some degree?
Oh yeah. Well, you know Ben Foster and I went down to Coronado on a day in Los Angeles where we both had free. And we were actually able to meet SEAL team 5 down there, see where they put all their stuff. We basically got to trot around their backyard for a little while. And it was incredible. Seeing what these guys are, seeing what their personalities are like, the light side, the dark side, every which way--it's a very intense world that they roll in.
You've played a lot of characters based on real people. Is that something you're especially drawn to or is that more coincidence?
I think there's a part of me that gets more excited about characters that are based on real people. I don't know why--I mean, I do know why. There's more detail. The material feels more character rich. There's more at stake. There's more to me that fires up my imagination because there's more research to do and things that you can kind of lock on to and really learn. I find myself learning more about the world when I play parts that are based on other people because you have to go out into the world and research it. In that process you discover things. It becomes an education.
Do you consider yourself a history buff at all?
I love history. I do. I don't consider myself a history buff. But every time I learn about history I find myself really drawn into it and fascinated by it, excited by it.
Well you have another biopic coming up about John Belushi. Is there anything you can tell us about that?
The John Belushi biopic we're hopefully going to be making in June. It's going to be good. I'm sort of somewhat hesitant to talk about it in too much detail because I almost don't want to jinx it or something. I like the idea of keeping it a little bit of a mystery.
Okay, understandable. So, it was funny to me to watch this film a couple of months after Prince Avalanche because Danny and Lance are total opposites. You made those movies within a couple of months of each other.
I know! It's so funny that that was the character I played immediately before playing Danny.
Aside from both being in the woods, there's not a lot of common ground between the two.
Yeah. I know the two versions of these guys in the woods are very different. I had been a little bit out of shape when I shot Prince Avalanche, and I was just kind of enjoying myself, enjoying the food and gained a little weight for that part. And all of a sudden I have to get in the best shape of my life and I found myself training in this workout camp with this guy named T.R. Goodman. Gold's Gym, it's called Pro Camp, it's where pro athletes go. And they were just kicking my butt for six days a week for three and half months. And I was questioning every Snickers I had eaten on Prince Avalanche.
When Lone Survivor wrapped was there anything you did as a kind of release of "now my body can go to hell"?
No not at all! I wanted to maintain it. See, if you get into really good shape, you don't go like, "Oh, man screw this!"
You're like "this forever!"
You're like, "I want to keep this shit as long as possible!" But there was no way to maintain the standard of working out that I'd had. It's just--even T.R. told me, "You're never going to train this hard again. You won't do it. No one could."
It's like a job unto itself.
Yeah, (laughs) he just told me it wasn't going to happen. And I was like, "No, I'm going to do it." But he was right, to maintain that standard, of four hours of working out every morning? It's a lot. Two hours of cardio, two hours of weights.
Well on the idea of beefing up, it seems everyone in your age range is being rumored for some superhero movie or another. Is that something that interests you?
I mean I definitely would never rule anything out. Like I'd hate to say, "No, I'm not interested" then some director reads this interview and is like, "Oh, that's too bad I was just going to offer him like Vineman or whatever." So I'm not going to just say that. But I don't know.
Lone Survivor, opens in limited release on December 27th, and expands on January 10th.
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