James Badge Dale. You may not know him by name, but you’re probably familiar with his face. Appearing in shows like 24, Rubicon and The Pacific, and films like Flight, The Grey and Shame, has given the actor an impressive career thus far. Now, with the Summer of 2013 upon us, James Badge Dale is about to gain a whole lot more exposure as he has already appeared in two major blockbusters (Iron Man 3 and World War Z) and has one more on the horizon: The Lone Ranger.
In his upcoming film, James Badge Dale plays Dan Reid, the brother of the titular ranger. Though it’s more of a supporting part, Dale brings his always reliable acting chops to the table and turns in a strong performance, one that helps him to stand out in a star studded cast that includes Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer.
Last week, James Badge Dale was in Toronto to do some press for the film and we were lucky enough to participate in a brief, yet exciting roundtable interview with him. Among other things, Dale discussed what it was like working on such a big production, his experience working with movie mega stars like Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr., how many of the stunts he did himself and much more.
Check it out below.
This Summer has seen you take roles in some major blockbuster films. Iron Man 3, World War Z and now The Lone Ranger. Has this rise in exposure and increase in fame changed you at all?
James Badge Dale: I think the change is in the facial hair. [laughs] It’s funny, when we were shooting The Lone Ranger, I was sitting on a flight and the stewardess asked me “what do you do for a living?” So I said, “well I’m an actor” and she says “well, what have you been in?” And that’s the hardest question for an actor to answer. I don’t understand what that means. Do you want me to start naming off my resume or something? Then you know what happens. You tell them what films you’ve done and they go “no I’ve never seen that.” [laughs]
On this plane ride though, it worked out well because when the stewardess asked me, I look up and on the screen they’re showing The Conspirator and the moment that I looked up I was actually on screen. So I tell the stewardess “look, that’s me right there!” She looks at the screen, looks at me, looks back at the screen and then back at me and goes “no it’s not.” [laughs] She looked at me as if I was a liar, with this accusatory look. So sometimes it’s best just not to be recognized.
Funny you say that because no matter what role I see you in, you always seem recognizable to me. Even when I go into a film not knowing that you’re in it, when you pop up I always know who you are.
James Badge Dale: Thank you! At least someone knows I’m working. [laugh]
We don’t get a lot of Westerns nowadays, especially not a lot of grand Westerns. What was it like with the sets, and the costumes and everything and just putting that all together.
James Badge Dale: It was wild! We built an entire town outside of Albuquerque. You have this enormous living, breathing set and 5 miles of track wrapping around this town and all through the desert and two, working 1850’s style trains. Everything was right there for you. And that was one of the beautiful things about working on this film. Gore [Verbinski] insisted upon doing it right. With everything right there at our fingertips. He wanted us to feel the dirt, smell the horses and go through all these experiences. It was like a childhood fantasy come true. You grow up watching these Westerns and then suddenly you find yourself there.
Did you enjoy the costume? It’s a lot of leather.
James Badge Dale: [laughs] It is a lot. You slip on the boots, you spur up and that does something to you. When you can walk and clink your spurs. I just love that sound. You feel real tough too, especially with the gun belt and everything. [laughs] There’s a lot of weight in the gun though, it changes the way you walk.
In the film, you play the leader of a bunch of lawmen. Is that the approach you took on set too? Did the other actors kind of look up to you or were they more like “yeah, he’s not really in charge.”
James Badge Dale: They were probably sitting there saying to themselves, “really? Badge is in charge? really?” [laughs] All those guys are great guys, seriously. There was a lot of passion for this project on set between all the actors, so that was nice. I’m not that guy though. [laughs] I wasn’t the leader. We all hung out together and lived together, so we did form a unit together. It wasn’t about being a leader or not being a leader, we were all treated equal.
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