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Recommend Interview: Ben Foster on "Leave No Trace"and Acting as Therapy (Email)

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by Nathaniel R

Ben Foster discussing "Leave No Trace"last summer when it openedWhen I first met Ben Fosterhe was promotingRampart(2011),a hard and angry movie about corrupt cops in which the acting was (unsurprisingly) terrific,he would barely speak about himself.Time has mellowed him,or at least made him more lighthearted about his own intensity.He ended our last interview begging for a screen comedy but sadly that project has never materialized.In person he's friendly and thoughtful and funny,never as impenetrable or scary or tragically sad as he has been is in his famous roles. In fact he's a happy new father,having had a daughter with his wife,the actress Laura Prepon,just over a year ago.

We met last month to discuss Debra Granik's award-winning dramaLeave No Trace.He plays Will,a former soldier who has shut himself off from society with only his daughter Tom (Thomasin McKenzie) for companionship.When Will and Tom are found living in the woods at the beginning of the film,social workers attempt to reintegrate them into society.The daughter immediately adapts but the father is tougher to reach.Leave No Traceis moving and insightful and beautifully acted so that's where we begin as we discuss his career,his early days in acting,and what's next.

Our interview,has been edited for clarity and length...

with Director Debra Granik on set

NATHANIEL: Projects likeLeave No Tracelive or die based on the chemistry between the leads,so how can you prepare for a two-hander like this.Were you involved in casting?

BEN FOSTER: I was involved in casting so far as Debra said 'I found someone I really like,and she's in New Zealand,here's the tape'.It was recorded on her phone and I watched like 30 seconds before I was like 'Oh yeah,that's it.'

Instant approval.That's so cool.

She has a quality --you see it in person and you see it onscreen,she's lit from within.[In awe] She's one of them.

And I assume you trusted Debra a little bit on unknown actors,too,because she's famous for that Jennifer Lawrence discovery...


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