The fast-rising young actor talks to Jeremy Kay about shoot-outs and barbecue with Russell Crowe
Following memorable roles in Alpha Dog, Hostage and Six Feet Under, Foster found himself playing a psychotic gang member alongside Russell Crowe and Christian Bale in James Mangold's Western remake 3:10 To Yuma.
"To come to the table with these two guys is obviously very exciting," Foster says. "Russell took so much time with me and taught me to ride a horse and took all of his on-screen gang of outlaws into the desert where we shot guns and ate barbecue. He's a great guy - very misrepresented by the press."
Under Mangold's "extremely supportive" direction, the film was shot in New Mexico. "For my character Charlie (Crowe's right-hand man) it was very clear he was devoted to his boss and was a very disturbed individual who was capable of violence. The only way to make that work for me was to have the idea that Charlie loves his boss in a platonic way.
"You have to honour the character, and that's your biggest concern. When you load a set like that with so many heavies, everybody is going to be honouring their corner and hopefully through some miracle it ends up working. I'm very proud of that film."
The star of There Will Be Blood talks to Mike Goodridge about giving characters a voice
When Daniel Day-Lewis first read Paul Thomas Anderson's screenplay There Will Be Blood, he was immediately taken by the opening stretch of the film which depicts the hazardous attempts by a young Daniel Plainview to mine silver.
"Your first encounter with the script is a very important moment and the first few pages are terribly important," he explains. "By page four, no-one had said a single word. The life of this man was all described in beautiful detail and I found it terribly exciting to have such a long sequence with no dialogue. In fact the sequence was much longer on the page and much longer when we shot it but in order to contain the whole story, Paul finally began to condense it a little."
When we do, finally, hear Plainview speak, it is a low, booming voice most unlike any of the actor's previous incarnations - more John Huston than Day-Lewis. "A voice is a profoundly important part of discovering a life," he says. "With each piece of work, there's a game you play with yourself as far as you need to create the illusion for yourself that this life you're trying to discover reveals itself. In other words, you might be reading and thinking and exploring different areas, learning certain skills, and you try to allow this life, this character to reveal itself, to have that illusion and that includes a voice.
"While I was working on it, I was listening to some early recordings from the Dust Bowl. Luckily for me, no recordings exist from the time of the film, so I could pretty much do whatever I wanted. There was a lot of trial and error. But I kid myself that it's not a technical exercise, so that when you are thinking you sometimes hear the voice in your head. I try to listen for it and when I hear it in my mind, I can begin to try to vocalise that."
Renowned perfectionist that he is, Day-Lewis says he maintained Plainview's voice off camera as well as some of his habits. "I think I showered intermittently," he smiles.
Could Katyn finally secure the legendary Polish director an Oscar nomination' Theodore Schwinke reports
Andrzej Wajda received an honorary award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000, but none of his films have ever been nominated. Three have been submitted as the Polish entry - The Promised Land, Maids Of Wilko and Man Of Iron - although the latter was subsequently pulled by the Polish government.
But the 81-year-old, whose latest film Katyn is this year's Polish submission, says the films that stood the best chance were never submitted. "Neither Canal, Ashes And Diamonds nor Man Of Marble got such an opportunity, since the powers that be refused to let them enter the competition," he explains.
Wajda says he is trying not to think of Katyn's prospects at the Academy Awards. "If I think about the Oscar at all, I see it in terms of an award to Polish cinema, which deserves it," he says.
Katyn, like Wajda's earlier films, is grounded in Poland's tragic past. "History has always featured in my films," Wajda says. "A Polish artist, I neither have been able to nor have wanted to run away from it."
The film tells the story of the 1940 massacre of Polish PoWs by Soviet troops. "Not only does it tell about the fate of the Katyn crime victims, my own father included, but also about the lot of their family members."
Katyn has been seen by nearly 2 million people in Poland. Audiences at the film's premiere in Gdynia responded with an eloquent silent ovation, since discussion of the Katyn massacre was forbidden under Polish communist rule. "Polish audiences find out something in the film that they have been waiting for - the truth about those tragic events," Wajda says.
SUPPORTING ACTOR CONTENDERS
1 Casey Affleck
The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
Affleck was the bright new star of 2007, thanks to his breakout performance as Robert Ford. The actor dominates the film, starting off as James' biggest fan and ending as his killer.
2. Javier Bardem
No Country For Old Men
The chameleon-like Spaniard transforms himself into a snappily dressed, demonic assassin in the Coen brothers' latest crime saga, and steals the film.
3. Hal Holbrook
Into The Wild
The revered 82-year-old Holbrook will have built-in voting support for a career that spans back to the 1950s. He delivers one of the year's most touching supporting turns as the solitary widower Ron Franz whose life is changed by his encounter with Chris McCandless.
4. Philip Seymour Hoffman
Charlie Wilson's War
Hoffman is the standout in the supporting cast of Mike Nichols' end-of-year epic, playing a CIA agent who teams with the congressman of the title to arm rebels fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan.
5. Max Von Sydow
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
In one of the year's most perfectly pitched supporting turns, Von Sydow is eminently memorable as Jean-Dominique Bauby's wheelchair bound father ("Papinou"), even though he is in just two scenes.
6. Vincent Cassel
French star Cassel gives one of the year's most memorable supporting turns as Kirill, the violent, probably gay, son of a Russian mob kingpin. Increasingly volatile and violent as his position in the family is weakened, Cassel paints a frightening portrait of a childish criminal fighting his desires.
7. Paul Dano
There Will Be Blood
The 23-year-old Dano, well-known from mand Little Miss Sunshine, holds his own against Daniel Day-Lewis as the conniving Sunday twins, Paul and Eli, in Paul Thomas Anderson's oil drama.
8. Tom Wilkinson
A former Oscar nominee for In The Bedroom, Wilkinson has won acclaim for playing a big-business lawyer involved in a class-action lawsuit who has an epiphany about the nature of the case and switches sides.
9. Ben Foster
3:10 To Yuma
As Charlie Prince, the ruthless second-in-command to outlaw Ben Wade, young actor Ben Foster is surprisingly convincing. A violent killer, he is also haunting as a man devastated when his loyalty to his boss is rejected.
10. John Travolta
Travolta's performance as Edna Turnblad shines through a full-body fat suit and five separate gel-filled silicone prosthetic appliances, and the very feat of playing a woman under such conditions could win him voting support.
[s19] Ned Beatty, Charlie Wilson's War
[s19] Philip Bosco, The Savages
[s19] Tom Cruise, Lions For Lambs
[s19] Irfan Kahn, The Namesake
[s19] Tommy Lee Jones, No Country For Old Men
[s19] Alfred Molina, The Hoax
[s19] Armin Mueller-Stahl, Eastern Promises
[s19] Mark Ruffalo, Zodiac
[s19] Michael Sheen, Music Within
[s19] JK Simmons, Juno
[s19] Christopher Walken, Hairspray
[s19] Forest Whitaker, The Great Debaters
[s19] Owen Wilson, The Darjeeling Limited