LOS ANGELES — “My brain’s broken today,” Ben Foster warns, detailing the schedule that comes with shooting a movie, editing another and promoting one more simultaneously.
“I came from New Orleans yesterday, I was up at 3:30 in the morning, went to New York to go watch footage of a film I just produced, got on a plane three hours later, got here at 2 a.m. I don’t know what we’re talking about.”
What we’re talking about the latest movie he stars in, The Mechanic, a stunt-laden action film that took the 30-year-old actor a bit out of his comfort zone. In fact, one scene in particular — during which Foster fights hand-to-hand with an assassin more than twice his size — nearly did him in.
“It was wild,” he says. “He throws me into a wall. They told him not to and he did it anyway. So I went into the wall and came down — because, you know, I’m of the Jackass generation — and snapped my shoulder. I’m right-handed. So you hear something go ‘snap’ and you’re like, ‘Stupid man.’”
When Foster found he could barely move his arm the next morning, a call was made to a doctor who works with the New Orleans Saints, who gave him an injection that made everything better — for a little while, at least.
“By the time the cameras are set up, I can’t move again. I’m like, ‘Oh, call the magic doctor. This is how drug habits start. Give me the drug,’” Foster jokes. “He comes in and he leans into me — really great guy — and he’s like, ‘You know, I work for the Saints, and they’re a little bigger than you. But I’ve never given any of them this much. Good luck.’”
And then it was back to work. “Pain is a great motivator,” Foster insists. “At the end of the day, you can use pain as an energy. You know, it can be emotional, it can be physical. But as the military says, pain is weakness leaving the body, and you’ve just kind of got to ride it out — and hope you’ve got a doctor to pump you full of shit.”
Another great motivator can be working alongside a co-star like Jason Statham, for whom injury-courting stunt work is nothing new. “When he’s comfortable, he’s the funniest guy you’ve ever met. Just a wicked, self-effacing good bloke,” Foster says of Statham. “And a hell of an athlete. And it’s a world that I know very little about, and he was good to me.”
And now, monster schedule continuing, Foster is back at work finishing up Rampart, his first movie as a producer, an experience he calls “really, really humbling. And thrilling.” And he says working on the other side of a film shoot has opened his eyes.
“You know, with actors there are all these handlers and special treatment. It’s really kind of repulsive and a waste of time and energy,” he says. “I have a lot of respect for, always dig the crew, sometimes a lot more than the cast. A good-run production team is paramount to making a good film. You just can’t get it done without them. You can’t.”