Navy Hero Taylor Kitsch’s Battles
Hollywood hero and blockbuster attraction, Taylor Kitsch, gives his take on the challenges of being at sea with Battleship.
He's used to fighting aliens, monsters and mutants, but the most difficult task Taylor Kitsch had to defeat was speaking like a Navy officer. "I think a lot of the challenge was the verbiage of the Navy," says Kitsch about the challenges of filming the blockbuster Battleship. "That is a very hard thing for me or for any actor to really wrap their head around because you have to learn it so thoroughly that it has to become unconscious and that takes an incredible amount of time and energy."
Kitsch is a man who does everything on his own. For Battleship he did the majority of his own stunts, despite the studio intervening. One particular ‘crazy' stunt stood out though. "In the beginning Hopper is trying to engage with something unknown in the water and I get blown back about 30-feet into the ocean and that was pretty good. That was a lot of fun," says Kitsch.
After gaining acclaim for his performances on NBC's television series Friday Night Lights (2006), Kitsch's breakthrough on the big screen came courtesy of playing the mutant Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009). 2012 was the big year for him, with the much hyped release of Disney's John Carter, followed by the Hasbro tie-in action blockbuster Battleship, based on the very popular board game.
The Hollywood heartthrob though believes that Battleship is more than just an action blockbuster, but an emotional transformation journey for its lead character. "There isn't a heartbeat that isn't worth watching. I think that is what Pete [Berg, the director] and I set out to do in the beginning. Even if it is an action film you have got to have somewhere to go as an actor, otherwise there is no challenge. It is a great fun journey. When you first meet Hopper, the character has no sense of direction, no sense of purpose.
"Then through that journey I think Hopper is unconsciously becoming the leader that everyone has said that he is, deep down. He is just too lazy and doesn't want to see his own potential, that's who Hopper is," continues Kitsch. "He starts out as a Lieutenant. Then he ends up a Captain running the whole fleet. There's a brilliant moment when he figures that out and you can just tell that he is not ready for it."
The journey of Kitsch's Hopper was one of the most challenging aspects of the film, with the actor highlighting the "balance" he had to bring to the character. "Hopper goes through an amazing arc. The guy goes to hell and back and just finding that balance between when the humour is necessary and when it is time to play him crushed, when finally someone is taken from him," says Kitsch. "To find that balance has been a big thing."
Just as difficult was portraying a prime and fit Naval officer. Kitsch had to endure a tough boot camp; visiting Pearl Harbor and "going down and being on the ships and seeing how these guys react to different ranks" was a "big" experience for him. "Being engaged with the Navy has been something really big. They have been so welcoming," says Kitsch. "We did this scene with real Navy personnel where we were getting medals when everything was over, from the Admirals down to the first year Ensign and I tell you, man, they look at your shoulder or your rank. It is an incredible thing. It is really intriguing."
Admirals and Generals might be one thing, but how about working with music diva Rihanna? "It was good. She's very game. She is very open in the process and Pete's been great with her. It's been enjoyable".
Kitsch's next role is in Oliver Stone's Savages, due out for release in Australia on October 18. Battleship is available on Blu-ray and DVD from August 9.
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images