No Kidding, Right?

The very entertaining Ben Foster lets loose to FilmInk about his latest thriller ‘Contraband’ and how the acting business is kind of a sham...

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We thought that actor Ben Foster was a risk taker with his performance choices in the likes of 3:10 To Yuma, Alpha Dog, 30 Days Of Night and The Messenger, but then we interviewed the very ragged-looking performer for his upcoming release, Contraband. "Actors are masochists who are prone to self-delusion and who dress up for a living as adults," he smiles.

Is that how you see yourself?

"Clearly as an unwell person [dryly]. This is a luxury profession. These are luxury problems. To pick at scabs in make-believe from our own lives is terrific."

How difficult is it...seriously, what did you do last night?

"I had an outrageous amount of sex and alcohol."

What is that small tattoo on your wrist? Is it homemade? It looks like a jellyfish or an octopus.

"Yeah, it's a sea creature. It was an ex-girlfriend's drawing. She drew it on a napkin. It was the most beautifully ridiculous thing that I'd ever seen, and I thought that it should be permanent [Giggles]."

You're very romantic to offer to be a canvas for a girlfriend.

"We don't have a lot of time here, do we? I mean, in life."

Compared to what, say, a mountain?

"I want to be a mountain, but I am not. So these are my boulders [he gesticulates vaguely at himself]."

Apparently you based your character in Contraband, Sebastian, [a smuggler whose determination to appease everyone leads to the betrayal of those that he loves most] on a producer that you knew who was always desperate to please everyone that he worked with. Can you expand on that?

"We're used to meeting people who want to be liked. Yeah? Not everybody. But we are accustomed to it. This [producer] was a man living far beyond his means. He was someone who I got to know socially. He had nice clothes, a great car, and a fantastic apartment. He was charming. People liked him. He had a good sense of humour. He was smart. He had empathy for those in need. But his life was in shambles, and he did everything to hide that. And because he couldn't say the words, ‘I don't know. I am frightened' out loud, he betrayed the people that he loved. I'm not going to say that this producer did that to me to the degree of Sebastian in Contraband, but it was enough of a starting point of a man who buries himself in the distractions of a Blackberry or lollipops or the finer things. America - if we are going to look at the metaphor - is the same fucking thing."

Are you afraid of the repercussions of your soundbites?

"Am I afraid of my soundbites? Why should I be afraid?"

Because they are forever. And some actors are sometimes afraid of what they say.

"Do I sound a little too comfortable with what I say? Hollywood is a machine. It's Coca-Cola. It's a mechanism. We're selling a product here. We're not kidding ourselves, right? We're selling a movie."

Contraband is released on February 23. This is an excerpt from an interview with Ben Foster taken from our March issue, which is on sale in newsagents or via Zinio now.  The story can also be found in the current edition of FilmInk for the iPad.

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