Ben Foster, born October 29, 1980 in Boston, Massachusetts, was swiftly moved by his parents to be raised in Fairfield, Iowa - a town that had four community theaters. His passion for acting was discovered early on, and after starring in the title role in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown", put on by one of the community theaters, he wrote, directed, and starred in his own play at age 12, a play that won second place in an international competition. After attending Interlochen Theater Arts Summer Program at age 14 in Interlochen, Michigan, it was only a matter of time before Ben dropped out of high school at age 16 and moved to Los Angeles, California, where he was almost immediately snapped up for the Disney series "Flash Forward" (1996), in which two friends narrate the highs and lows of high school.
His film debut was a small role in the little-seen Kounterfeit (1996) (V), after which he was solicited for several made-for-TV movies and appearances on television series before reaching his next milestone, Liberty Heights (1999), where he played alongside Adrien Brody and Joe Mantegna as a rebellious Jewish teenager who engages in a forbidden relationship with a Black girl. His first starring movie role was in the film Get Over It (2001), where he starred along with Kirsten Dunst as a lovelorn teenager, and then the beautifully crafted Bang Bang You're Dead (2002), in which he played Trevor Adams, the starring role. Still, until 2005, his parts for the most part were small but beautifully played, and then he landed the role of Marshall Krupcheck in the movie Hostage (2005), an intense piece of acting that made people begin to take notice and recognize his potential and talent.
Since then, he received major roles in two major movies: Alpha Dog (2006) and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006).
Often plays crazed, violent characters
Calm mellow voice
Soft hoarse voice
Intense acting style
Frantic fast paced delivery
Dropped out of high school his freshman year to move to Los Angeles, California.
Older brother of actor Jon Foster.
At age 12, he won second place in an international competition for a play that he wrote and directed.
Raised in Fairfield, Iowa
His favorite movies are Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), The Jerk (1979) and Husbands (1970).
Was originally offered the part of Eddie O'Hare in The Door in the Floor (2004), but he thought he was too old for the role and gave up the role to younger brother, Jon Foster because he thought it was better suited for him.
Casting director Cecily Adams saw the homemade audition tape Foster had sent from his home in Iowa. She called his parents and told them that, while she could make no guarantees, they should put him on a plane to Los Angeles, immediately. They did so and he landed the lead role in the pilot she was casting, "Flash Forward" (1996).
For his role on 3:10 to Yuma (2007) he was trained by renowned Hollywood gun coach Thell Reed, who also trained actors Russell Crowe, Kurt Russell, Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Sam Elliot, Girard Swan and Val Kilmer for Tombstone (1993).
Was ranked #16 on Entertainment Weekly's '30 Under 30' the actors list. (2008).
Provided the voice on the tape reading of James Frey's "Bright Shiny Morning".
Has been practicing Transcendental Meditation since he was four years old.
One of Variety Magazine's 10 Actors to Watch (2007).
His favorite movies are Husbands (1970), The Jerk (1979), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), All That Jazz (1979) and The Iron Giant (1999).
Risked his sight while filming Alpha Dog (2006) by adding glaucoma drops to his eyes for much of the shoot to dilate his pupils, making him appear to be high. He'd hide in the bushes at night and cover his eyes between takes to keep the lights from shining into them and also had to talk to director Nick Cassavetes with his eyes closed.
[Discussing his role in Hostage (2005)] In the novel, my character was written as a 400-pound, 30-year-old massive force. Since I am not that, I had to find a different direction. I based my character on a serial who saw his parents die and now has a fetish for little girls and watching people die.
[on preparing for his character in Liberty Heights (1999)] The big goal for me was just to get the mental state of mind, this kind of pure innocence. My generation is pretty jaded, pretty cynical. Everything happens really fast. Too much, too fast. So I got all the Life and Look magazines from '54 to '55, stuff that would be at the family's house, on the coffee table. I listened to all the Columbia years of Frank Sinatra, stuff that would probably be on the radio. I talked to my grandmother and looked through her photo album. I talked to my dad.
[on director Nick Cassavetes] Nick is magic. He doesn't tell you what he wants, he allows. And as long as you're taking chances and he feels that you are being truthful to yourself, then you can do no wrong.
I'm so sick of sarcasm and irony, I could kill! Sincerely, the real root of things is love and sacrifice. Everything else is an illusion. I'm not trying to preach here. I can't tell anybody anything. But I will say, if you're available to them, there are so many great secrets in the world, so many signs. It's when we stop for a moment and listening that the world gets interesting.
[Talking about meditation practices] It's always difficult. To feel, rather than to think, to tap into that source and let it come through you. It takes courage. Because we feel it and then we get scared and we analyze it. We live in this thought web, we identify things and put them away and distance ourselves from them. But to be completely present? That is source, that is art, that is spirituality. And meditation is a way to defy fear and experience that source. *Laughs* I know this is all esoteric and weird.
[on acting and his role in Alpha Dog (2006)] "It is cathartic. You do learn a lot. This part in particular was a lot of realizing where man's weaknesses, where my weaknesses, are. The best direction that Nick gave me was, "you're a fast car that doesn't handle well." So I just went for it. But if I try to over-intellectualize it, my heart leaves it. Because when I was in it, I was possessed."
[on his movie Big Trouble (2002)] "It was more of a crappy farce than a black comedy. I took the job so I could work with such a great director. But in the end, it ended up living up it its name. I've learned that calling a film a black comedy is like the kiss of death."
[on getting the part in Liberty Heights (1999)] "It was so surreal just to audition for it to begin with. When I got the call I was passed out. I was at my family's house, just taking a break from my apartment, and my mom came and knocked on my door. I said, "Leave me alone!". She said, "No, wake up!" I had drool down my face, I picked up the phone, and my manager said, "You got it!" and I proceeded to do a parade around the house in my underpants for a good couple hours."
When X-men came around, it was a vacation. Like living in a theme park for six months. I got to fly around and kick bad guys' asses.
(On creating his characters) "Every role, every gig, you have to find a quality and you have to love the person. Not just like him, but love the person so you can care about what they care about."
The heat around young actors burns out. Natural ability and magnetism only get you so far. The rest is hard work.
(On wearing wings for the part of "Angel" in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)) Angels don't sit, apparently, so they just kind of pose and stand or sleep on couches face-down.
You spend all day thinking about something and considering. For example, the movie, The Messenger (2009/I)...(exploring) grief, loss, the inevitable. Something we all go through. Something we all have experience with. Making the phone call, receiving the phone call that a loved one is no longer with us. You spend all day considering that - it's hard to shake. It's natural. I think it's normal. I would be worried about people who could turn that off. Power to them. I'm grateful for every experience, every film that allows a period of time to consider that and to feel these presented questions. But it takes a while. And, hopefully, if you do ask these questions and you are truthful with yourself, you meet yourself along the way.
[re role in play "Orphans"] I hadn't been pursuing theater actively. This was really the first play that I'd read to be considered before. Reading it was like holding something electric in your hands. The language is deceptively simple and aggressive. There was this feeling of seizure: "I don't know if I can do this.'
[when asked for acting advice] [...] be bad. Give yourself permission to be terrible and celebrate that 'cause it's really about moving through a room in the darkness, and you're bumping into furniture. It's okay to fail 'cause there's no failure, you're just informing the richness of your experience, and that's- that's the greatest gift you can possibly give yourself. Be terrible, because you're gonna find something gorgeous and stunning that will sustain you for the rest of your life.
[when asked if he'd be up for singing and dancing in a film] I hope so! I'm hoping someone will let me, 'cause I think everything is a dance. I mean, my favorite movie is All That Jazz. I just eat it up.
(May 2006) Attended the 2006 Cannes Film Festival in France.
(July 2007) Attended the 2007 Comic-Con International in San Diego, California.
(February 2009) Attended the 59th Berlin Film Festival in Germany.
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