I recently got the chance to talk to actor and stuntman Kevin Foster about his role in Nicolas Cage’s new film, ‘Stolen’. Here, Kevin talks about his life as a professional stunts person and what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set…
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
Nicolas Cage’s character, Will Montgomery, is part of a group of thieves who steal 10 million dollars. The heist goes bad, and he goes to prison for 8 years. When he gets out, Josh Lucas’ character kidnaps Montgomery’s daughter because he’s convinced that he hid the 10 million dollars.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
Josh Lucas’ character, after losing his leg in the heist gone wrong, has since gone crazy and is working as a taxi driver. He has Cage’s daughter in the trunk of his cab. I play a New Orleans motorcycle cop who pulls Lucas over for a broken tail light. As I’m about to let him go with a warning, I hear a noise that makes me suspicious, so I make him get out and open the trunk. I don’t want to give away what happens after that.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
Noon Orsatti. It all started with Noon. He was the stunt coordinator on the film. I’ve known Noon since shortly after I moved to LA in 1999 and worked for him on a bunch of different projects. A lot of times, if a movie has a role that requires stunts but doesn’t really warrant hiring an actor and a stunt double, they will cast an actor who also is a stunt person. So, Noon called me up and said “Hey, I want to send you into the casting directors to audition. Are you in town?” I auditioned and got the part. This is also how I got the part in the first ‘Iron Man’. Actually that’s how most of my acting career has come about.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
The idea of it is a lot like other action movies. What makes ‘Stolen’ different is in the execution of the idea. It’s an action movie with a good dramatic story line to it. And on top of that, it’s directed well so you end up getting pulled through the movie instead of looking for what’s coming next or guessing what’s coming next. And you’re invested in what’s happening to the characters the whole time, and you have fun rooting for them.
The film stars Nicolas Cage, Josh Lucas, Danny Huston, Malin Akerman, Sami Gayle, Edrick Browne, Mark Valley, Barry Shabaka Henley and M.C. Gainey, with Simon West onboard as director. What was it like working with the cast and crew on set? Any good anecdotes?
It’s funny because I was cast before the movie started, but my part was the last one to be shot. I worked on the last week of principal photography. It seems like… well, I’m in this movie, and so is Nicolas Cage, Malin Ackerman, and Josh Lucas, so of course I worked with all of them. But movies are odd like that. The only one I worked with was Josh because he and I were the only ones in that scene. Even Sami Gayle was in the trunk in our scene, but I never met her because the trunk was closed the whole time! So she was never even there when I was.
Let’s talk a bit about you, Kevin. We should mention that you’re also a stunt performer as well. What made you want to get into the acting and stunt industries in the first place?
Well, long story short: my freshman year at the University of Illinois, I was studying engineering. One day I realized it was absolutely not the life I wanted so I left class and went home to my dorm. I was a gymnast in high school, and so was my roommate. He said his old gymnastics coach was a stunt man. Right then and there, we decided to be stunt men. He’s now an accountant. I took my first acting class a year later and loved it, so I decided to pursue both at the same time. Honestly, I wanted to avoid working for a living. I’ve never been a fan of it. I’ve had other jobs, and comparing them to acting and stunts, it’s a no brainer. If I can make a living in entertainment, that’s what I want to do.
Ironically, I’ve probably had to work harder than I would have in another career because it’s so competitive. I’m always, ALWAYS, paranoid about “what if I don’t work?” You gotta be okay with the fear. The fear is actually what drives me.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in either?
I think I heard a quote from Barbara Streisand once “If you can do anything else, do it.” I’d say that’s not bad advice. But if you do decide to do it, have a way to make money indefinitely while you’re pursuing acting and/or stunts. Not as preparation for not making it, but to take the pressure off while you’re building your career. If you go into an audition or interview desperate for a job, they can smell that. And nobody wants to hire someone who seems desperate. Also, train and what you want to do. If you’re not good at it, that’s okay, you can get good at it.
What’s the worst injury you’ve sustained so far?
My worst injury yet was on a show called ‘Moonlight’. It was my first day on that show. An hour and a half after I got there, I was rehearsing a stunt where I had to run, jump over a railing, fall 14 feet and land on a couple of 8 inch pads. The boots I was wearing were really flimsy, and when I landed, my ankle rolled sideways. I got up and walked thinking it wasn’t that bad, but I actually tore a ligament. I put on an ankle brace and took some pain killers. That was 9:30am. At 3:30 pm I had to do the stunt six times. In the spectrum of possible injuries, that one is pretty mild so I consider myself lucky.
What’s been your favourite stunt to perform so far?
I guess, now that it’s done, the fall I did on ‘The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen’. I was in the Hyde creature costume for the stunts on that movie. There was a scene where Sean Connery and Shane West – (Alan Quartermain and Tom Sawyer) capture Mr. Hyde. I had to do a fall off a 22 foot roof, sliding backwards, in a 45 pound creature suit. I was scared out of my mind because I didn’t know how much the roof would rotate me when I slid off of it. That was the first time I saw an ambulance on set and realized it was for me! When there’s a hairy stunt being performed, a lot of times they have an ambulance standing by just in case. But it went well, and it’s even on the behind the scenes footage on the DVD.
You’ve been in a number of different film and TV projects – which actors/actresses have been your favourites to work with so far and why? Any good stories?
Back to LXG. I doubled an actor named Jason Flemyng. The complexity of the costumes we were wearing made the role so demanding, that there ended up being quite a bit of overlap between what Jason and I had to do. Being in a creature suit like that is something you have to experience to fully understand how miserable it can be. Since we were both doing it, and nobody else was, we bonded right away. He was always very supportive of the work I was doing, as you can see in the behind the scenes stuff on the DVD. More recently, the ENTIRE cast and crew of ‘The Office’. I worked on the season 10 premiere, and I don’t think I’ve ever been on such a welcoming, gracious, friendly set. From the actors to producers to the director to the writers, everyone was great. It’s so weird, stunt people never have contact with the writers, and two of them approached me with nice things to say.
What’s currently on your I-Pod right now?
Christmas music. It’s been playing on my iTunes for about the last two months. I’ve been writing a new script. It’s a Christmas movie. When I write, I always have music on because it feeds so much of what I write. I can get inspiration from an album or a single line from a song. Or even just the mood of a song can put me in the right frame of mind to write a given scene.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
- Since I recently saw ‘Lincoln‘, I have to say Abraham Lincoln. Normally I come out of a movie wanting to make movies, but I came out of that movie inspired to be a good person and accomplish great things.
- Which brings me to Robert Zemeckis. Absolutely my favourite director. I’ve learned so much about directing from his movies. And what’s impressive is that he does such a variety of movies. ‘Castaway’, ‘Back To The Future’, ‘What Lies Beneath’, ‘The Polar Express’, ‘Contact’. All of them are incredibly well told stories. I gotta be around a guy like that. I couldn’t help but learn. One of my career goals is to work with him.
- And here’s an unexpected one: Jon Bon Jovi. The music that has come out of his mind has fed so many different times in my life. And, again fed a lot of the things I’ve written. He has a brilliant way of taking emotion and letting it out in music.
What’s coming up for you in 2013?
Good question. In what I do, so many things come out of nowhere. But I just finished a new screenplay a few days ago, and I’ll be trying to get that out into the industry to get my writing career going. I do want to write and direct as well. I love acting, but I feel drawn to writing and directing. I made my first feature film a few years ago that did well at festivals. I really want to continue dreaming up and telling stories.
Thanks for the interview!