Peter Berg’s Navy SEALs drama Lone Survivor enjoyed a strong launch in its awards qualifying run, posting the best theater average of any film over the post-Christmas weekend.
Opening in New York and Los Angeles on Christmas day, the movie — starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster — took in $155,435 in its first five days. For the weekend itself, Lone Survivor earned $92,468 for a location average of $46,234.
Berg, who was last in theaters with expensive miss Battleship, could use a box office win. Lone Survivor, released by Universal and financed by Emmett/Furla films, will launch nationwide on Jan. 10.
Taylor Kitsch didn’t need much goading to portray an elite soldier. In “Lone Survivor,” he plays one of a team of SEALs fighting off an ambush in Afghanistan. It was a chance to try and get into the fighting mindset, the need to push yourself and be the best.
“I’m infatuated by it,” Kitsch says. But he knows he’s still just an actor, and he will never know what it’s like to have to face death with that intensity. “I will tell you I don’t understand that. Unless you’re in that predicament, you don’t know what you would really do.”
Still, researching into the role — in particular, talking to Marcus Luttrell, who wrote the book it’s based on and survived the ordeal — he got a glimpse into how soldiers deal with potentially imminent demise. “It’s that brotherhood that drives them,” he says. “They’re okay with death. It’s an honorable death. They die with their boots on. The worst thing about dying is leaving others behind to fight for themselves.”
Getting into his character — Michael P. Murphy, who was one of the three who did not survive — required hanging out with Luttrell, having “late night booze-infested talks” and getting to know both him and who Murphy was. And it was a lot of physical work as well. “Murph was a huge fitness guy. There’s actually a thing called ‘The Murph,’ which set a precedent for training. That helped me. He was a big boy.”
But it wasn’t just about working out. “Training will take you a f—ing fifth of the way, if that,” Kitsch says. “It’s the spirit of the guy — the fighting spirit that these guys talk about. You have to get that fight in you.”
And there was also the pain of shooting on a mountain. “I was grateful I trained as much as I did, because we were ten thousand feet above. There’s not much oxygen. It was excessively taxing, for us and for the crew.”
One easy thing was working again with director Peter Berg, who created the show “Friday Night Lights,” which made Kitsch a name. Berg also cast him in “Battleship,” a less accurate portrayal of the fighting life. “We’re friends first and foremost, so our shorthand is pretty darn great,” he says. That Berg was once (and sometimes still is) an actor helps, too. “If it’s a long day, he knows what you’re going through, or if you didn’t f—ing sleep the last two nights. He gets it.”
When attempting to tell any “true story” on film, there is always an obligation to responsibility placed on artists and filmmakers to get it right. But when that true story is the 2005 events of Operation Red Wings, SEAL Team 10’s tragic attempt to take out a Taliban leader resulting in the death of four of the five SEALs involved, that obligation becomes a heavy burden.
Based on the titular lone survivor’s book, SO2 Marcus Luttrell, of the same name, Lone Survivor is the culmination of director Peter Berg trying to tell this story for six years. And he finally did that by assembling a strong cast to recount the harrowing story, including Mark Wahlberg as Luttrell, Taylor Kitsch as Lt. Michael P. Murphy, Eric Bana as LCDR Eric S. Kristensen, Emile Hirsch as SO2 Danny Dietz and Ben Foster as SO2 Matthew Axelson.
It was in promotion of that story that Wahlberg, Hirsch, Bana and Kitsch sat down with us earlier this month.
There is an emotional and physical toll that must have been on all of you. I’m wondering, with the families, how did they embrace you? Did you become like their adopted sons?
Emile Hirsch: [Danny Dietz’s] mother, Cindy, she actually jokes to me and calls me her adopted son now. Dan Senior, Dan’s father, says the same thing. Getting to know them and getting to visit with them, to hear their thoughts about their son has been a very special experience. We’re going to Denver on the twelfth and we’re going to do a big family screening. I’m really looking forward to that. I feel like getting to know the families has been a real privilege and an honor for all of us. Aside from being really wonderful people, they’re also really smart. They’re great people.
Taylor Kitsch: A week before we hit camera, I got to meet Dan Murphy, Mike’s father, and it’s been an amazing relationship to today. We e-mail back and forth. He’s been amazingly supportive, from that first dinner – from the first time I met him. I finally met the rest of Murph’s family at the premiere. Like Emile is doing now, I’m going to Long Island on Monday. It’s going to be an amazing night. The whole family, a lot of Murph’s longtime friends, the fire department, the police… It’s going to be a special evening.
The 32-year-old Lone Survivor star covers the sixth issue of Man of the World magazine, where he not only revealed that he was seeing someone under the radar—but in doing so, he also admitted that he’s recently single.
At the time of his interview, Kitsch was staying his favorite beachside hotel in Santa Monica, Calif., for a week of business meetings. At night, he drove to the Valley to play hockey. “Us Canadians, we find that sh–t,” he said of his favorite pastime. “Hockey’s like therapy for me. I went through a terrible breakup a while ago and it was the one thing that allowed me to actually not think about it for an hour-and-a-half.”
Kitsch played coy when asked about the current status of his love life. “I’m not getting married next year, I’ll tell you that much,” the former Friday Night Lights star promised. Fair enough.
After top lining two box office disappointments in 2012, it’s not too surprising that the John Carter star has his guard up. Still, Kitsch has no regrets about his career choices. “If I even told you who else was trying to get John Carter’s role!” he said, though he declined to say who else was in contention.
Battleship, meanwhile, was alluring for two reasons: he would get to reteam with Friday Night Lights executive producer Peter Berg and spend several months in Hawaii playing with real U.S. war ships. “The Navy closed down the USS Missouri for us for two weeks!” he recalled.
Kitsch next stars in HBO’s The Normal Heart, a story about the earliest days of the AIDS crisis. He plays Bruce Niles, a closeted Wall Street broker who moonlights as the head of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. He was also asked to star in a TV show this past season—a gig that paid “stupid money,” he claimed—but ultimately decided to continue his work on the big screen.
While the actor is taking on meatier roles, it’s not because he’s trying to distance himself from the failures of John Cater and Battleship. According to Kitsch, “I’ll keep swinging for the rest of my career.”
Taylor Kitsch may be starring in the upcoming film “Lone Survivor” but life wasn’t always about movie premieres and red carpets. The former “Friday Night Lights” star, 32, revealed in a new interview with Glamour magazine that he started his career as a poorly-paid Abercrombie model.
“That was kind of a weekend thing I did to stay afloat — 10, 20 bucks here or there. I was actually homeless at the time,” he said. “I was homeless in New York for a while, and then I went to L.A., where I lived in my car.”
However, with the success of projects like “Friday Night Lights,” Kitsch became a household name, and a bit of a heartthrob, best known for his long hair.
“I started growing it when I was 20, playing junior hockey,” he said. “The first time I cut it was for ‘Battleship.’ I’d had it long for 11 years. Now it’s kind of got a life of its own.”
It wasn’t without a few bumps along the way, but Canada’s biggest film this year will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival next week — and it happens to be local.
“The Grand Seduction,” a co-production of St. John’s-based Morag Loves Company and Quebec’s Max Films, was filmed last summer in Trinity Bight, with a cast that includes Gordon Pinsent, Mark Critch, Mary Walsh, Cathy Jones and Pete Soucy, alongside Irish actor Brendan Gleeson (“Harry Potter,” “In Bruges”), Taylor Kitsch (“Friday Night Lights”) and Liane Balaban (“Last Chance Harvey,” “Above and Beyond”). The film is directed by Don McKellar, and it’s a remake of the 2013 Quebec film “La grand séduction, “ of which the English version, “Seducing Dr. Lewis” won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004.
The original film is set in the tiny fishing village of Ste-Marie-la-Mauderne on the north coast of Quebec. A plastic container factory considers the possibility of setting up in the town — thereby saving it from economic misery — but only if there’s a resident doctor and a certain sized population; the villagers then attempt to seduce a doctor into moving there by making him believe it’s the finest place on Earth to call home.
A few changes to the script — Ste-Marie-la-Mauderne, Quebec became Tickle Head, N.L.; the plastic factory became an oil company wanting to set up a petroleum plant — and the plot is even more relevant to Newfoundlanders than perhaps it ever was to Quebecers.
Following Joaquin Phoenix’s recent statement in a magazine interview where he bashed Oscar-campaigning as “utter bullsh*t,” actor Taylor Kitsch immediately made it known to every Academy voter that he will gladly accept the Best Actor nomination that Phoenix, who starred in this year’s “The Master,” is trying to avoid.
“The thing about good actors is they take Oscar nominations for granted,” Kitsch told Hollywood & Swine. “If Joaquin Phoenix thinks campaigning for an Oscar is painful, he should try promoting ‘Battleship.’ ”
Phoenix, already a two-time Oscar nominee, whom many in Hollywood thought was a front runner for Best Actor for his impressive performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Scientology-inspired “The Master,” made it clear in the recent issue of Interview Magazine how much he didn’t want to participate in the Oscar process.
Upon reading Phoenix’s interview, Kitsch immediately started his Oscar campaign, which meant having to drop out of the community college drama program that he had recently enrolled in this fall in the wake his three boxoffice failures “John Carter,” “Battleship,” and “Savages.” According to Kitsch, he already has a strategy to eliminate his biggest competition for an Oscar nomination, “Lincoln” star Daniel-Day Lewis, and “Silver Linings Playbook” star, Bradley Cooper.
“I’ve already convinced Daniel-Day Lewis that he can’t let Joaquin Phoenix be the most pretentious actor in Hollywood,” Kitsch said. ”So starting tomorrow, he’ll also be trashing the Academy Awards every chance he gets to guarantee he doesn’t get nominated. And for Bradley Cooper, I’m personally paying to send screeners of ‘Hit and Run,’ and ‘The Words,’ to every Academy voter. That way they’ll know I’m not the only actor who can make horrible movies.”
Las Vegas puts Kitsch’s odds of landing an Oscar nomination this year at 5,000,000 to one, even with Phoenix now out of the race, but Kitsch isn’t deterred. “Directors Andrew Stanton, Peter Berg, and Oliver Stone taught me two things,” said Kitsch. “Never give up on your dreams no matter the odds. And try to work with better directors.”
Source: Hollywood and Swine