We remember him best for his roles as Charlie Salinger on Party of Five and Jack Shephard on Lost, but you will never look at Matthew Fox the same way ever again after witnessing his performance as Michael “The Butcher” Sullivan (also known as Picasso) in Alex Cross.
The Rob Cohen-directed movie has him playing a serial killer who manages to stay one step ahead of the police until he runs up against a formidable adversary in Cross, played here by Tyler Perry. The role had him undergoing a strict diet and extreme martial arts training, both of which resulted in one of the scariest characters you will see in any 2012 movie.
We got to talk with Matthew Fox during the L.A. press day for Alex Cross. The actor discussed his preparation for the role, how long it took him to come out of character, some of the fight scenes in the film and much more.
Check it out below.
We Got This Covered: How did you prepare for such a dark role?
Matthew Fox: It was a lot of work. It required five months of not eating the things I love to eat and not having a glass of wine with dinner, a lot of time in the gym and just really committing to it and not cheating. The physical weight loss part was really challenging, and I was always curious if I could do something like that and I proved to myself that I could. That was the way into the role for me.
I remember when Rob (Cohen) called to offer me the role and I was in London doing a play there. When I read the script, the image which jumped into my head was this guy’s philosophical construct that he builds for himself to rationalize his obsessions. That would be more of a result of the intensity level in which his mind works at.
We Got This Covered: How long did it take you to come out of that character once the shooting was done?
Matthew Fox: Not very long. I couldn’t wait honestly. When we were done shooting, emotionally I was pretty spent. We shot a lot of the movie at night and I remember the last few days thinking that I can’t wait to get to the end of this and eat some really high carbohydrate food, go home to my family and slip back into my normal everyday life.
We Got This Covered: You and Tyler Perry decided not to speak to each other or to do anything together, and Rob Cohen also told us that he read your lines when you were off camera to Tyler. How did you feel about that and what was it like working with Tyler?
Matthew Fox: I am a big, big fan of always being there for the other actors when they’re doing scenes. Part of that was driven by the fact that I was doing another film at the same time called World War Z in London. So I missed a few of those scenes where Tyler did his on camera stuff for the phone conversations he and I had. I really regretted that, but Rob is really good at that kind of thing and gave him what he needed.
We never really made a decision not to communicate with each other. That was really just driven by the nature of the film. In the movie we’re just two guys trying to kill each other and there was never really an opportunity for us to have any kind of interaction beyond scenes where we were trying to kill each other. When you’re playing that stuff you don’t just stop and start talking about how’s the family.
Tyler brought a lot of really good stuff into this film and the interaction I did have with him was really good and positive, and then we went about doing our work.
We Got This Covered: Can you talk about the fight scene where Tyler actually hit you?
Matthew Fox: He brought that up? Well that happens and I’ve been the one that’s done that in the past. Those fight sequences when you’re really drawn out and exhausted, every now and then someone makes a mistake. You misjudge something and somebody gets hit.
Tyler caught me with an elbow at about midnight on the scaffolding when we were doing that stuff and he was so unbelievably horrified by that. He called me I think for about two days after that just apologizing, and I tried to let him off the hook and said “it’s no problem man.” I didn’t get seriously hurt so it’s all good.
We Got This Covered: Was this cold psychopath entirely from the script, or did you do some research on people like this that are just sociopaths or psychopaths? What did your research entail?
Matthew Fox: I did a lot of watching and stuff. I remember the first time Rob and I talked and he described the guy to me, and the first guy that popped into my head was Ted Bundy. I think it was mainly Ted Bundy because he looked like the last person on earth that would be a serial killer. He just came across as somebody who was prototypically handsome and was very charming.
Obviously it changed because it ended up not being anything like Ted Bundy, and he ended up being more openly psychopathic. This character really only exists in the movie so it took on a kind of hyper realistic tone as a result.
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