When I show up to meet Ben Foster for drinks, Im not sure whom to look for exactly. Though hes best known as Claires bisexual boyfriend, Russell, on Six Feet Under, the last time he was seen on-screen, he was platinum blond, ripped, and flying high as Angel in X-Men: The Last Stand. Only after passing him by do I realize that the guy with the Mohawk at the bar sipping a Jamesons is Foster.
The 26-year-old just wrapped Craig Lucass The Laws of Motion with Matthew Perry and Hilary Swank, which accounts for the haircut. Every job needs a beginning and an end ritual, he explains. I was up at 4 a.m., saw some clippers, and here you go.
Los Angelesbased Foster decided to stay in New York for a couple of months, and hes already found all the right places to get into trouble: I have a bit of a vampire fetish, and Ive been hanging out at the Box a lot. Raven O [the clubs stunning emcee] makes me very happy. Hes Bacchus with an incredible sense of showmanship. The place is boys, girls, fucking, drugs, lunacy! Its not dragits pretty butch. Its not about playing for one team or the other.
Foster obviously appreciates that kind of sexual free-for-all. Asked whether he was hesitant to appear in Out, he does his best to straddle the sexuality line himself: I mean, sure, I guess its for gays and lesbians, but Out is one of the most culturally relevant magazines out there, and those lines arent clear anymore. They just arent.
Flattery and sexual ambiguity are getting him everywhere, and when asked if hes single, he does his best to keep the game going by avoiding pronouns. I dont know, actually. Im having fun in the city right now with a creature. Its lovely and weird and fun and brilliant, he says coyly. Soon enough, though, he refers to the creature as her, but its official: Ben Foster is a total tease.
At his photo shoot a week later, hes lost the Mohawk and is gamely posing in a pair of tight white jeans. After taking a few shots, the photographer points out what everyone has been quietly discussing since Foster showed up on the set: Thats a big package youve got there, Ben! Not even attempting to feign embarrassment, he flashes everyone a smile thats more than mischievous and a little less than menacing. In less than 20 minutes hes successfully seduced three gay men and a lesbian.
In his upcoming film 30 Days of Night, due in October, Foster plays a drifter living in a darkness-draped Alaskan town invaded by vampires. While the rest of the town seeks ways to flee, his character is looking for a way to join their ranks. The movie, based on the graphic novel of the same name, costars Josh Hartnett and was produced by Spider-Man director Sam Raimi.
Its a stone-cold horror filmwith intelligence. It was completely terrifying when we were rolling and a great laugh when we werent, he says. Vampires at the craft services table; victims in various states of death, smoking cigarettesevery day was fucking Halloween.
The six-week shoot in New Zealand was far from a harrowing experience. New Zealand is everything youve heardthe most beautiful landscape anywhere, period. And then to be able to work with my friend [Hard Candy director David Slade] on a vampire movie every night was just excellent.
Often characterized by casting directors as moody or intense, Foster was looking to play a lighter role until 3:10 to Yuma presented itself: Ive played a lot of damaged, violent people and was hoping for some sweeping romantic thing, but Yuma came up, and you cant really pass on playing cowboy with Russell Crowe.
In the remake of the classic 1957 Western film, released in September, Foster plays a bloodthirsty gunslinger, and though his approach to his character may not seem obvious, it completely clicked with director James Mangolds vision. All of the research I did for this role was looking at glam rockers. I saw the whole thing as one big rock n roll musical. And the fact that the costumer had done videos with Lenny Kravitz before, its just what felt right, he says.
What was it like working with the reportedly difficult Crowe? Hes incredibly generous. I think its got to be difficult when everyone expects you to be an asshole or to throw something at them. Its a bizarre thing, having people waiting for you to do something like that and provoking you. Ive wanted to do a lot more than throw a phone at someones head.
Oddly enough, working with Sharon Stone on 2006s Alpha Dog took the biggest toll on him, both physically and emotionally. She broke my nose filming that movie! I love her! he laughs before quickly growing serious. Being in the mental and physical shape to play a crystal meth addict skinhead trying to get his brother back, it took me about five months after the shoot to get over it.
When I ask if hes as introspective as hes perceived to be, Foster becomes a bit rankled. Um, I mean, sure, he says. Ive been meditating twice a day since I was 4, so Im used to occupying my own head space. (Foster, who grew up in Iowa, attended the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment but dropped out after ninth grade to pursue acting.) I dont think of myself as an angry person. As rewarding as that role was, it was a real challenge to get my head back on straight, he recalls.
That things will lighten up for Foster seems unlikely, though. My character in The Laws of Motion is an accused child molester living in a halfway house until he gets hit by a car and has to move back home with his alcoholic, drug-addicted sister, he says matter-of-factly. But I like this movie. I dont kill anybody.