Following his interview with Jason Statham, Steve had a chance yesterday to speak with the other star of The Mechanic, Ben Foster. It just so happened that Foster had been announced as a cast member of Fernando Meirelles’ 360 about an hour before the interview, which came as a surprise to the actor.
Foster has quite a few projects on the horizon in addition to Meirelles’ 360. He stars opposite Mark Wahlberg in Contraband. The romance Here is set to premiere at Sundance later this month. And he’s reuniting with The Messenger director Oren Moverman and co-star Woody Harrelson for Rampart. Hit the jump for his updates on these projects and more.
360 looks to be Foster’s next production with a March start date. Rachel Weisz and Anthony Hopkins are confirmed co-stars, while Frances McDormand and Eminem have been linked to roles. The film is a loose adaptation of the 1900 Arthur Schnitzler play La Ronde from writer Peter Morgan (Hereafter). Foster talked a bit about the story:
“360 is about a sex-offender who is just getting out of prison and he’s looking to go to kind of a halfway house. Then there’s a storm when he’s at an airport and he’s kind of stuck there. There’s several different storylines, but he’s stuck at an airport with people.”
Contraband is a remake of Iceland’s Reykjavik-Rotterdam. Wahlberg stars as a busted smuggler who becomes a security guard; in the face of financial troubles, he undertakes one last job. The film also stars Lukas Haas, Kate Beckinsale, and Giovanni Ribisi in a role that has Foster particularly excited:
“In Contraband I’m moving import/export with Mark Wahlberg, my best friend, family, and we just move gear through the ports of New Orleans. There’s a great cast, Giovanni Ribisi has just got a killer role. Lukas Haas, Kate Beckinsale, it’s a fun cast.”
Foster was inspired by his time on the set of The Messenger to start a production company with Moverman. Their first project and Foster’s first film as a producer is Rampart. Foster has a small role alongside Robin Wright, Sigourney Weaver, Cynthia Nixon, Steve Buscemi, and Anne Heche. But it sounds like Harrelson — who was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in The Messenger — steals the show as a Los Angeles cop:
“I’m just saying it now, watch out for next awards season, Woody Harrelson’s performance in this movie Rampart is insane. It’s insane what he did. And I don’t want to sound like a douchebag producer, but I am now.”
Foster talks a lot more about making Rampart with Moverman, and it sounds pretty great. So I will indeed watch out for next awards season.
Here’s the part of the transcript that covers these films. Look for the full interview with Foster the week The Mechanic hits theaters (January 28).
Collider: I’m curious, if you could, you mentioned playing these intense characters, what kind of character do you play in Contraband and, also, in Fernando Meirelles’ 360?
Ben Foster: How did you hear about that?
It was reported just about an hour ago.
Yeah, it’s online. I heard it and I was like, “guess who I’m sitting down with today?” Great timing.
Foster: Wow. I went and did a film that I’ll have at Sundance this year, I’m just trying to learn different things right now, and when it feels good, it feels good. So, Here is about a mapmaker. It’s a gentle romance/road movie set in Armenia.
In Contraband I’m moving import/export with Mark Wahlberg, my best friend, family, and we just move gear through the ports of New Orleans. There’s a great cast, Giovanni Ribisi has just got a killer role. Lukas Haas, Kate Beckinsale, it’s a fun cast.
And 360 is about a sex-offender who is just getting out of prison and he’s looking to go to kind of a halfway house. Then there’s a storm when he’s at an airport and he’s kind of stuck there. There’s several different storylines, but he’s stuck at an airport with people.
Do you have a start date on that?
Foster: Yeah, I think it’s March.
So your next few months are pretty busy?
Foster: Yeah, and in New York we just produced by first film which was so exciting and, I’m just saying it now, watch out for next awards season, Woody Harrelson’s performance in this movie Rampart is insane. It’s insane what he did. And I don’t want to sound like a douchebag producer, but I am now. So, I’m just saying, Rampart.
So, are you in that or are you just producing?
Foster: Yeah, I have a small role in that.
What was that like? You guys had such a pairing your last time together.
Foster: He’s my brother. He’s my brother. The Messenger director Oren Moverman and I started a production company, so Rampart was the first one we did together and we just tried to get the gang back. Woody is the only man for this job. He plays a cop in 1999, in Rampart, in Los Angeles and it’s stone cold. Stone cold work. Robin Wright, Sigourney Weaver, Cynthia Nixon, Steve Buscemi…
When you guys did The Messenger you guys did a lot of “natural stuff,” you know, from what I remember. Was that similar on Rampart? Were you guys like finding it on-set?
Foster: There’s a lot of improvisation. But, that’s based on Oren’s work and it’s based on James Ellroy’s script that Oren Moverman rewrote and then we do all this prep work. He works with each actor separately and then there’s no more rehearsal and whatever happens, happens. It’s a very different way to go and we think a successful one with the right people.
How has the experience of producing been?
Foster: There’s a steep learning curve. Really humbling and thrilling. Where, you know, the actors (laughs)…there’s like all these “handlers” and the special treatment and it’s really kind of repulsive and a waste of time and energy but it’s good, however it works. Seeing that side of the operation and how a film that runs smoothly and well and you make your days and you keep content while trying to raise the bar every day is…I have a lot of respect for, always dig the crew. Sometimes a lot more than the cast. But a good run production team is paramount to making a good film. You just can’t it done without a good line producer, without creative producers, without people who are making stuff happen. It’s wild.
Where did the desire to produce come from in the first place?
Foster: Just working with Oren. I met him and I was like, “I’m out of L.A., I’m going to go work with him, and we’re going to develop stuff.” The Messenger was such a great experience, the process of that, and I just figured he is the guy I want to work with. So, it’s how do you make something with someone, how do you make something, and we were just like, “All right, let’s make Rampart.”
Are you aiming for a certain festival?
Foster: Uh, next year. We’re just cutting right now. We just got an assembly.
Do you have a distributor for that or are you still looking?
Foster: We’re independent. Yeah, fingers crossed.