Interview: Taylor Kitsch on toughing up for ‘Lone Survivor’

Taylor Kitsch plays one of four soldiers pinned down by enemy fire in "Lone Survivor." Credit: Getty Images
Taylor Kitsch plays one of four soldiers pinned down by enemy fire in “Lone Survivor.”
Credit: Getty Images

Taylor Kitsch didn’t need much goading to portray an elite soldier. In “Lone Survivor,” he plays one of a team of SEALs fighting off an ambush in Afghanistan. It was a chance to try and get into the fighting mindset, the need to push yourself and be the best.

“I’m infatuated by it,” Kitsch says. But he knows he’s still just an actor, and he will never know what it’s like to have to face death with that intensity. “I will tell you I don’t understand that. Unless you’re in that predicament, you don’t know what you would really do.”

Still, researching into the role — in particular, talking to Marcus Luttrell, who wrote the book it’s based on and survived the ordeal — he got a glimpse into how soldiers deal with potentially imminent demise. “It’s that brotherhood that drives them,” he says. “They’re okay with death. It’s an honorable death. They die with their boots on. The worst thing about dying is leaving others behind to fight for themselves.”

Getting into his character — Michael P. Murphy, who was one of the three who did not survive — required hanging out with Luttrell, having “late night booze-infested talks” and getting to know both him and who Murphy was. And it was a lot of physical work as well. “Murph was a huge fitness guy. There’s actually a thing called ‘The Murph,’ which set a precedent for training. That helped me. He was a big boy.”

But it wasn’t just about working out. “Training will take you a f—ing fifth of the way, if that,” Kitsch says. “It’s the spirit of the guy — the fighting spirit that these guys talk about. You have to get that fight in you.”

And there was also the pain of shooting on a mountain. “I was grateful I trained as much as I did, because we were ten thousand feet above. There’s not much oxygen. It was excessively taxing, for us and for the crew.”

One easy thing was working again with director Peter Berg, who created the show “Friday Night Lights,” which made Kitsch a name. Berg also cast him in “Battleship,” a less accurate portrayal of the fighting life. “We’re friends first and foremost, so our shorthand is pretty darn great,” he says. That Berg was once (and sometimes still is) an actor helps, too. “If it’s a long day, he knows what you’re going through, or if you didn’t f—ing sleep the last two nights. He gets it.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

Local

NYPD: Suspect dead after two U.S. Marshals, cop…

A suspected sex offender died after a shooting at a West Village smoke shop that wounded two U.S. Marshals and an NYPD detective on Monday, officials said.

National

PHOTO: New Zealand Heral uses wrong image to…

The New Zealand Herald made a terrible mistake of using the wrong image to illustrate the tragic death of Staff Sergeant Guy Boyland – a New Zealand-born Israeli soldier who…

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

Entertainment

'Kim Kardashian: Hollywood' game easter eggs and cheats

"Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" is the hottest game of the moment. Here are its best easter eggs as well as some tips and tricks to speed your way to the top.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.

Food

Zagat releases '30 Under 30' list

Zagat releases a list of the people changing the food and drink industry across the country.