How did you come on board Walking Out, and what attracted you to the project?
I was on a press tour for another film and the producer called me. He said “I have a script for you and I think you’ll really enjoy it, you’re really right for it.” So I got home, I read it, I loved it, I was really intimidated by it. I skyped with the directors and I flew up to Montana with them and spent a weekend fly fishing and getting the lay of the land for the life there. And we just really saw eye to eye about the project and had a great time together, so I thought this could be fun.
I grew up with a father who was an outdoorsman and that was a big way for him to be able to bond with me and my brother growing up. So I had a… it was in my blood, that understanding of that kind of male bonding, growing up in Texas with my dad. That lack of communication between father and son and how difficult it can be when you’re estranged just sort of resonated with me, and I knew it in my bones, so I was excited to be a part of it.
You’ve got three kids yourself, right?
We don’t go hunting! (laughs) Does it help? Yeah, of course. I understand, having three sons, they’re a little bit younger than David in the story, and I do understand what that relationship’s like. Obviously, I think we have a healthier relationship than Cal and David do in this movie – well, I hope so at least! But you understand that love, that connection, that primacy, that need to instill certain values and certain things that were instilled in you – the parts of your parents that they passed on to you that you want to carry on – and also to try and prevent them from falling into a lot of the traps and entanglements of 21st century life as well.
There are two directors on this one, brothers Alex and Andrew J. Smith. How did that affect the dynamic on set?
And they’re twin brothers, which was really interesting. It was fascinating to work with twin brothers because I have twins myself. It was interesting watching a twin relationship in adult life, in a professional setting, play out. They’re both really wonderful guys, really insightful artists, who are really doing it for the love of the craft – they’re not about pomp and circumstance or ego. They just love the story and they really put their hearts and minds and souls into it.
Although there were times when one twin had one idea and other twin had another idea and I had to say, like I do with my twins, “Guys, you gotta go figure it out, get on the same page, and come back to me. “
How did you find working with Josh Wiggins? For most of the movie it’s just the two of you on camera.
Josh is incredible. He’s a really old soul, which helps. We had the best time – he makes a killer playlist. We didn’t have trailers or anything like that, but we had a little old Winnebago that we’d get ready in in the morning and he would play songs and we’d just vibe. He’s from the same little town in Texas that I’m from, which they didn’t know when they cast us. So we had that in common. He turned 17 on the shoot, and we just had a great time. He’s a really intelligent, intuitive person, and was so emotionally connected with this story. It was a really just the two of us, apart from a bear here or there, and it was such a profound experience. I’m really grateful it was him. He has everything it takes to be a real superstar and I look forward to watching his work for years to come.
You also had to interact with a number of animals in the film – deer and bears. How was that?
Pretty much everything was practical – the deer actually came up and licked my face, which was kind of spiritual in a weird way – it’s just nothing you ever expect to happen to you in your life, and I knew we only had one take on it. There were some locals who told us they had some friendly deer on the property – wild deer, but very curious – that would sometimes wander up to people and say hi. So they put some sugar on my face in the hopes that it would lure her in, and it did! She came right up and licked my face. It was such an integral moment for the character at that part of the story – he’s coming to terms with his life and his respect for nature and looking back on aspects of his life, so the fact that it played out so nicely was fortunate.
The grizzly bears I was a little bit more afraid of, and you don’t really understand how large they are until you’re close to them. They had a group of rescued grizzlies that were able to perform the basics of what they needed, so that was how they did that.
Was shooting on location a big challenge?
Oh, I loved it! Todd McMullen, our cinematographer did such an incredible job. Any direction you looked in was just a beautiful landscape, particularly when it was snowing. The setting is really a character in the story – a big character in the story and Todd did a great job of capturing that.
We didn’t have trailers, we didn’t have cast chairs, we just kind of stood in the snow in between takes and in between set ups. You’d walk to the place where you were gonna do the next scene and basically just wade through the snow. Thankfully we had some great costumers who were able to fin creative ways to keep us warm, because my character in particular wasn’t really dressed for the weather they were experiencing, so we had to kind of get creative with stick-on body warmers in specific places to keep frostbite from setting in. It never felt painful, it never felt intrusive to the process, in a way it was similar to what the characters were going through so, in a way, it was great to have it as cold and rugged as it was.
Walking Out is in cinemas now. Read our review here.