Exclusive Interview With Ben Foster On Lone Survivor

Matthew Simmons

WGTC: Have you stayed in touch with his family?

BF: We texted not too long ago. I just had dinner with Marcus [Luttrell, who Mark Wahlberg plays and who wrote the non-fiction book Lone Survivor is based on] and saw Pete [Berg, Lone Survivor‘s director] last week. The film brought a lot of folks together. It’s nice that the DVD is coming out. We’re excited just because it gives us the opportunity to all get back together and think about what these men did and what does it mean to each other.

WGTC: What advice did his family members give you to help your performance so that it could remain true to who Matt Axelson was?

BF: It’s funny, you’re kind of a different person to different people. I’m different from my mom than I might be with my brother. Everyone who I met that knew Axe said he was a warrior’s warrior. [Pause] Gosh, it’s really hard to talk about. He was a beloved man and they celebrate him in the most beautiful way. It has inspired me. As much as understanding what the warrior does is how the family of a warrior operates. That’s a real courage, that’s a real strength. The Axelson family is a bedrock of love and celebration. Of course, they grieve. But they have taken this tremendous loss and exploded it with love and shared it with me, and continue to this day. There’s some people that get crippled by grief. It warps them. But they leaned into it and still love him. What a beautiful way to look at the life cycle.

WGTC: That’s so moving to hear that this is not just an ordinary role for you and that it touches you so personally. I mean, how could it not? Before you started filming, you and the other actors took part in a training regiment with some elite military personnel. Which part of this training was the most helpful to you as an actor?

BF: How to communicate in a high-stress situation with clear and direct movements, where your safety is on the line. We’re shooting live fire and we’re trailing each other. You got to know where your guys are. You’re moving as one animal that takes different shapes and sizes over the terrain, and you’re covering all angles. There’s a feel that being just within these men was an extraordinary experience. And we were surrounded by the men who served. Any questions that we had were answered, in terms of tactics. Some of it we couldn’t show on film exactly how it goes, because it’s high-level security. But, it’s such a kick and privilege to be around these kind of men. We just sucked up as much as we could. Live fire training, that sets you right.

WGTC: Did you do any stunt work for the film?

BF: I don’t know how to answer that. It’s hard to say what a stunt is.

WGTC: Of course, when you’re comparing it to what these soldiers went through.

BF: Yeah, it’s hard. I have a terrific stuntman, we all had guys who fell down that mountain. We did as much as we were allowed to do. That said, it’s hard to talk about stunts in any kind of comprehensive way when these guys threw themselves down a fucking mountain. We’re going to hotels at the end of the night.

WGTC: You’ve been working on Warcraft and the Lance Armstrong biopic. Do you have anything else in the works?

BF: I’m off to London on Tuesday and start rehearsal to do A Streetcar Named Desire at the Young Vic. [Editor’s note: Foster will be playing Stanley Kowalski.] To get to play with Tennessee’s words… I can’t wait to get my mouth and body around this guy.

That’s all the time we had with Mr. Foster, but we’d like to sincerely thank him for his time. Be sure to pick up Lone Survivor when it arrives on DVD and Blu-Ray tomorrow!