By Matt Pais
RedEye movie critic
5:25 PM CDT, April 18, 2011
Admittedly: I hoped "The Bang Bang Club" star Taylor Kitsch, who played charismatic Tim Riggins in NBC's brilliant "Friday Night Lights," would talk like this, projecting confidence and dropping F-bombs like he's in "Goodfellas."
“We’re the type of guys, if we’re going to [bleepin'] fall doing something, we’re going to do it falling into a [bleeping] vat of crocodiles with chainsaws,” says Kitsch, 30, of himself and Peter Berg (who directed and exec produced “Friday Night Lights” and directs Kitsch’s upcoming star vehicle “Battleship”). “We’re going to fall hard.”
That respect for living in the moment served Kitsch well as the hard-living Riggins on "Friday Night Lights." For "The Bang Bang Club," opening Friday, Kitsch took another risk: He lost more than 30 pounds to star as real-life photographer Kevin Carter, who killed himself shortly after winning a Pulitzer Prize for a photo taken as civil war raged in 1994 South Africa.
“I don’t know what it is within me that draws myself to these tortured [bleeping] guys,” he says, “but there’s something there that maybe I haven’t figured out yet.” What is clear is that the film allows the Vancouver-bred actor (who now lives in Austin, Texas) to display impressive dramatic range, not to mention a convincing South African accent.
From Los Angeles while on a break from his starring role in next year’s Disney science-fiction film “John Carter From Mars,” Kitsch--who may or may not be taking over for Matt Damon in "The Bourne Legacy"--talked about giving up his favorite breakfast for “The Bang Bang Club,” cliff-diving with co-star Brooklyn Decker on his “Battleship” days off and what Tim Riggins will be doing in 10 years.
How hard was it to master the South African accent for “The Bang Bang Club”?
I don’t think it’s ever going to be mastered, man; it was always a work in progress. I think one of the toughest things for me was Kev’s very emotional in the film, and when you’re that emotional so often, the last thing I’m thinking about is if I’m hitting my R’s or not hitting them. I can’t complain because you take the role on, but it’s a very difficult thing to get a grasp on.
And you dropped more than 30 pounds for the role. What did you most miss eating during that time?
Oh, man, [bleep]. I prepped in Austin, Texas, and I have my little coffee shop that I get the same thing every morning, and one of the toughest things was just not getting my breakfast every morning. That’s my favorite meal so that was tough of just going there and reading and prepping and doing your homework and just having a coffee and some berries.
What do you normally order?
Six egg whites with spinach, mushroom, dry wheat toast, coffee and fruit—every morning when I’m there. So it was just coffee and berries.
In the film, Kevin smokes pot right in front of cops. Has there been a time in your life when you did something that from the outside might seem to go against common sense but feels right in the moment?
I mean it’s incomparable but even cliff-jumping in Hawaii off a 110-foot cliff [during shooting for “Battleship”]. … It’s kind of doing things that people say, “What the [bleep] are you doing?” There’s something in you, in everyone at one point, where you’re doing it because everyone’s not, or you’re doing it because they told you [that] you couldn’t.
Is that something you had to do for the role, as opposed to for fun?
No, no, it was on my off day. There was a group of us that would go find the highest cliffs in Hawaii and jump off into these glorified rivers. It was hilarious. Every week we would be searching for the next place to go jump.
Who went with you?
Brooks [Brooklyn Decker] came and after some coercing she jumped off one, which I tip my hat to. But I don’t think anyone else of the cast came. It was some of the crew that came with us. Some crew members would go out there and go on some pretty epic hikes.
Speaking of “Battleship,” what’s another board game that should be a movie?
Oh, man. I think the only correlation to that “Battleship” is the title and that it’s a naval film. People [are] loving this forceful idealism that we’re literally, apparently, pieces on a board game during filming. They’re going to be pleasantly surprised that this has really a lot more depth than people want to give it.
So you’re not stabbing anyone with a giant plastic peg?
I am. The opening sequence is me calling numbers and trying to peg people with these huge, 20-foot red-and-white pegs that are on this big table. That’s basically the film. It’s exciting. It was a trip to make. You just had to buy into it.
What went through your head as you finished filming “Friday Night Lights”?
Man, a lot. A lot of mixed emotions. [Bleep], there’s so much, man. I grew so much through the process and the risks we were allowed to take and how many times we could really challenge and bring that writing to life and work with these other actors that were on the same page. And I loved playing Riggs. But at the same time I’m super-excited about these endeavors that are coming up and challenging and growing through new experiences. But I’ll never forget that process and hopefully I’ll keep taking the same amount of risks as I did as Riggs.
What do you think Tim Riggins will be doing in 10 years? [Ed. note: What follows could be a spoiler if you haven't already seen "FNL" season 5!]
Oh, [bleep]. What I love about Riggs is, and the way they finished it, is that they finished it “FNL”-style. We always made you work, and that was the beauty of it. I think with the way we finished Riggs was it was just, I love that you can go through Dillon and [bleepin’] run into that guy grabbing a six-pack and he’ll just give you a nod or whatever it is and he’s off doing his own thing. Oh, [bleep], I love that you could take him anywhere really. Hopefully he’ll settle down a bit but something tells me there’s still a lot more for him to explore. [Laughs.] You could take him anywhere and it makes sense because he’s that much of a rogue kind of guy.
I like to think that if I went down to Texas now he’d be sitting on someone’s lawn drinking and contemplating the world.
Hopefully on his own lawn. On his property. I did play it very--hopefully it came across that way--when he said he wasn’t going to do anything illegal again, I really did think he meant it. Because I think he learned his lesson. I love the catch-22 relationship he has with [his brother] Billy; that’s all they got. I know he’ll be with Billy and they would have their clashes and make-ups for the rest of their lives. It’s the beauty of family.
In my interview with Aimee Teegarden, when I asked her what I should ask you the first thing she said was, “Oh, Tay-tay!” Is that usually what she calls you?
Unfortunately we only worked I think for one episode and then our paths would cross if it was a dinner scene or something like that. But she was [bleeping] great on “FNL” man, talk about growth. She was just so good. But, no, I don’t really recall her saying that too often, but I think she’s one of few people that I’ll let call me that.
She wanted me to ask you how the house you’re building is going.
It’s very surreal right now. It’s going really well. We just pulled the trigger on the plot of land, I got it grated, and just signed the architect so I should be getting the drawings within the month. It’s very surreal, man. It’s truly a dream come true and an exciting time. It’s in Austin, on the lake.
Once you build the house, if you’re sitting outside having a beer, someone who strolls by will think it’s Tim Riggins out there.
You know what, I have no problem with that. F***, that guy helped me get it, so I have no problem being compared to that guy. I like Riggs.
And if people talk to you as if you’re him, will you get back in character?
No, I’ll never go back in character, but what’s funny is that when guys are like at a bar or something—I don’t drink very often, at all really especially when I’m working, but it’s like I’ll just be at a bar and maybe go for a beer with a buddy and catch up and they think I should be like shattered drunk and sending me shots which is very flattering but at the same time it’s like they correlate it quite tightly with Riggs.
What do you say in that situation?
Um, I say cheers and I have it, usually. What is that, it’s like bad luck if you [turn it down]? I can’t remember; maybe it’s someone that convinced me that it was just so [that we’d] have a shot.
Click here for Kitsch's thoughts on his beloved Canucks and their 3-0 lead on the Blackhawks
His favorite romantic comedy: “I think you’re hintin’ that maybe it’s time I do a comedy. Believe me I was very close actually, two weeks ago, to signing onto a great little independent. It just didn’t work out dates-wise, but I’m itching to get in there and do some comedy. It’s just gotta be the right one. I like ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona.’ Is that a romantic comedy? Yeah, that could be in there. I love that kind of humor, that situational relationship stuff. That was [bleepin’] great.”
On his iPad: “It’s a house app. Which is an architect app. That’s my main app right now ‘cause I’m building a house.”
What he’s listening to: “I’m going old-school Pearl Jam right now. Like ‘Nothingman” is a big one, I just rejuvenated that one in my song list.”
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Fridays at 7 a.m. on WCIU, the U
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