Ben Foster loves him some “Hell or High Water.” But that’s not just because it’s his new movie. The acclaimed actor, 35, is picky, especially when it’s his own films. A rare exception is the low-budget thriller, which takes an alternately pitiless and hilarious look at two ne’er-do-wells (Foster and Chris Pine) who embark on a marathon of bank robberies in Texas, unaware that they’re being pursued by an especially methodical Texas Ranger (Jeff Bridges). Foster tends to play intense, in films like “The Messenger” and “Lone Survivor” and shows like “Six Feet Under," but in person, he’s a bit more up for a laugh.
You just got off your second run on stage as Stanley Kowalski in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” I’m sure that’s not an easy one to shake off.
Stanley’s hard to kick. I didn’t realize how much “Streetcar” was driving me. Stanley Kowalski doesn’t go down quietly.
And you had to bulk up for it.
I gained a bunch of weight. Each guy needs something a little different. I’m stripping down for this Scott Cooper film [“Hostiles”], which is a Western. I play a short guy with a whip. I’m not doing very well, frankly, being in Austin, eating barbecue and drinking beer.
Dumb question, but is it harder to bulk or slim down?
I mean, eating — who doesn’t like food? Eating’s great.
You’ve done unusually intense preparation for some of your roles. Did you have to do anything approaching intense for this?
It was a very aggressive diet of whiskey and hamburgers. I trained hard for it. [Laughs] Tanner [his character] is an animal. He’s a man who enjoys his appetites. So I indulged some myself.
You’ve played sociopathic or psychotic characters before. But sometimes they’re menacing and dark. Tanner looks like he enjoys being bad.
I agree. He enjoys his life. He enjoys the transience of this human experience to the hilt. He knows he’s not going to get out alive. He says to his brother, “I never met anyone who got away with anything.” That’s a big key for Tanner. It ain’t gonna end pretty. So, in the meanwhile, wheeeeeeee!
He seems fun to play.
I’ve never had as much fun on a gig as I did on this one.