Six Feet Under Russell
"Every role, every gig, you have to find a quality and you have to love the person. Not just like him, but love the person so you can care about what they care about." Ben Foster.
Daytime Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Award-winning actor Ben Foster was first noticed as thirteen-year-old Tucker "Tuck" James on the ABC/Disney Channel teen/pre-teen series "Flash Forward" (1996-1997) before gaining more recognition for his roles in the TV movie "Bang, Bang, You're Dead" (2002), as a kid who gets picked on a lot at school, and on the HBO dark drama series "Six Feet Under," as Russell (2003-2005), Claire's (Lauren Ambrose) sexually-ambiguous classmate and ex-boyfriend.
The budding thespian has starred in such films as ''Liberty Heights'' (1999), ''Get Over It'' (2001), "The Punisher" (2004), ''Hostage'' (2005), ''X-Men: The Last Stand'' (2006), "Alpha Dog" (2006), ''3:10 To Yuma'' (2007) and "30 Days of Night" (2007). Next, he will act alongside Hilary Swank, Matthew Perry and Ginnifer Goodwin in an upcoming drama/comedy film titled "The Laws of Motion."
On a more personal note, the 5' 9'' older brother of actor Jon Foster reportedly dated his "Get It On" (2001) costar Kirsten Dunst from August 2000 to March 2001, Julia Stiles (reportedly dating as of 2001) and his ''X3'' (2006) costar Ellen Page. He is currently dating Zoe Kravitz, whom he took to the ''3:10 to Yuma'' (2007) premiere.
Childhood and Family:
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 29, 1980, to Stephen Foster, a restaurateur, Ben Foster relocated with his parents to the small town of Fairfield, Iowa, after their Boston house was burglarized when he was four years old. Previously, Ben's grandmother, Lucille Foster, fled Russia with her family in 1923 and settled in the Boston area. Ben has one younger brother who is also an actor, Jon Foster (born on August 3, 1984).
Ben's parents, whom he has described as "free-spirited, Vietnam-protesting hippies," were associated with the Transcendental Meditation movement
Ben, nicknamed ''Curly Boy,'' once won second place in an international competition at the age of 12 for a play that he wrote and directed. He dropped out of high school his junior year to move to Los Angeles and later worked on his craft at the Interlochen Theater Arts Summer Program, in Interlochen, Michigan.
"The teen years were very difficult and I was really blessed with an extraordinary family and an outlet. I think those two things are major contributors to those who make the right decisions in the end and those who let themselves down. Having an outlet and that can be sports; that can be a form of art. But the reason why I believe these kids are pulling triggers is not hip hop videos, it's not video games, it's not the movies. It’s apathy and a lack of care. There's no place to put it. Or they've decided not to because they're privileged white Americans. They don't need to care. And because of that, anything is possible." Ben Foster
Bang, Bang, You're Dead
Acting by age eight, Ben Foster played the title character in a regional production of the musical "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" by the age of 11. At age 12, he won a statewide competition for the one-act play he wrote, directed and starred in.
Foster subsequently sent a homemade audition tape to casting director Cecily Adams, who later phoned his parents and asked them to put him on a plane to Los Angeles immediately. Foster dropped out of high school in his junior year and packed for the City of Angels.
In the new destination, Foster landed the lead role in the pilot Adams was casting, "Flash Forward" (1996-1997). In the teen/pre-teen series that aired on the ABC/Disney Channel, he starred as Tucker "Tuck" James, opposite Jewel Staite who played his best friend Becca. His performance received generally positive reviews and earned him two Gemini nominations, both for Best Performance in a Children's or Youth Program or Series category. As for the show itself, it found a core audience of fans and became something of a cult hit in its various reruns although only 26 episodes were produced.
Foster made his feature film debut in the independent crime/thriller film "Kounterfeit" (1996), directed by John Mallory Asher and starring Corbin Bernsen, Bruce Payne and Hilary Swank. He also played a teenage killer named Charlie, opposite Sarah Chalke, in the horror/thriller TV movie based on the novel by Lois Duncan, "I've Been Waiting for You" (1998), and played a recurring role as a mentally handicapped student on the NBC short-lived, but critically-acclaimed, drama/comedy TV series, "Freaks and Geeks."
"It was so surreal just to audition for it to begin with. When I got the call, I was passed out. I was at my family's house just taking a break from my apartment, and my mom came and knocked on my door. I said, 'Leave me alone!' She said, 'No, wake up!' I had drool down my face. I picked up the phone and my manager said, 'You got it!' and I proceeded to do a parade around the house in my underpants for a good couple hours." Ben Foster (on getting the part in the film ''Liberty Heights'' (1999)
In 1999, Foster scored his first major film role as Ben Kurtzman, the younger son of a Jewish family in 1950s Baltimore who has a friendship with an African-American girl, in Barry Levinson's semi-autobiographical feature, "Liberty Heights." Joe Mantegna played his father while Adrien Brody portrayed his older brother. When asked about how he prepared for his character in the film, Foster revealed, ''The big goal for me was just to get the mental state of mind, this kind of pure innocence. My generation is pretty jaded, pretty cynical. Everything happens really fast, too much, too fast. So I got all the ‘Life’ and ‘Look’ magazines from '54 to '55, stuff that would be at the family's house on the coffee table. I listened to all the Columbia years of Sinatra, stuff that would probably be on the radio. I talked to my grandmother and looked through her photo album. I talked to my dad.''
Entering the new millennium, Foster co-starred with Shane West, Marla Sokoloff, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe and James Franco in the teen romantic comedy film "Whatever It Takes" (2000), the high school-set version of the play "Cyrano de Bergerac." He then joined the ensemble cast (including Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor and Tom Sizemore) of Ridley Scott's Oscar-winning war film, "Black Hawk Down" (2001), based on the book by Mark Bowden. That same year, he also had a male lead role as a popular high school basketball star who begins to fall for Kirsten Dunst's character after being dumped by his life-long sweetheart (played by Melissa Sagemiller), in the teen romantic comedy feature "Get Over It.” Along with Dunst, Foster shared a Teen Choice Award nomination for Film - Choice Chemistry.
In 2002, Foster starred as Trevor Adams, a high school student who gets picked on a lot at school, in the made-for-television movie "Bang, Bang, You're Dead." His outstanding performance would lead his win at the Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Special category. Meanwhile, he portrayed Tim Allen's son and Zooey Deschanel's "killer" in Barry Sonnenfeld's generally ignored film adaptation of Dave Barry's dark comedy novel, "Big Trouble" (2002).
From 2003 to 2005, Foster played the recurring role of Russell Corwin, Claire's (played by Lauren Ambrose) sexually-ambiguous classmate and one-time boyfriend, on the HBO dark drama series "Six Feet Under." Alongside the show's cast members, Foster won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2004. He was nominated again for the award the following year.
During his "Six Feet Under" stint, Foster starred opposite Thomas Jane and John Travolta in Jonathan Hensleigh's film version of the Marvel Comics, "The Punisher" (2004), and starred as the psychopathic teen villain Mars Krupcheck, opposite Bruce Willis, in Florent Emilio Siri's action/thriller movie "Hostage" (2005), based on a novel by Robert Crais. Discussing his role in ''Hostage'' (2005), Foster noted, ''In the novel, my character was written as a 400-pound, 30-year-old massive force. Since I am not that, I had to find a different direction. I based my character on a serial who saw his parents die and now has a fetish for little girls and watching people die.''
2006 saw Foster as Warren Worthington III (aka the Avenging Angel), a newly winged mutant who joined forces with the School of Professor Charles Xavier (played by Patrick Stewart) in the third installment of the "X-Men" series, "X-Men: The Last Stand.”
He also filmed "Alpha Dog" (2006), the Nick Cassavetes' directed independent feature about real-life drug dealer Jesse James Hollywood (played by Emile Hirsch). For his work in the film, Foster took home a Young Hollywood Award for Breakthrough Performance – Male.
Foster recently co-starred with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale in James Mangold's remake of the 1957 Western film that was adapted from Elmore Leonard's short story, "3:10 to Yuma" (2007). For his role in the film, he was trained by renowned Hollywood gun coach Thell Reed, who has also trained such actors as Kurt Russell, Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Sam Elliot, Girard Swan, Val Kilmer and Russell Crowe.
He also portrayed The Stranger in David Slade's horror/thriller film based on the comic book miniseries, "30 Days of Night" (2007), alongside Josh Hartnett and Melissa George. He later revealed how he got the role in the vampire movie, ''David Slade is a friend of mine and he directed 'Hard Candy,' which is just a fantastic independent. I had been a fan of the graphic novel previously. He just said, 'Well, I want you in this movie. I don't know where.' I said, 'Well, that's cool.' I've got a bit of a vampire fetish so he showed me some footage that he did of the vampires and I had never seen anything quite like it. It's really remarkable and different and maintains the authenticity and respect to the original material. But I just came in and a full makeup job and became this Cajun drifter, basically a modern Renfield. It was just a fun month of work."
The budding thespian will soon wrap up his upcoming film project, "The Laws of Motion," a drama/comedy directed by Craig Lucas. The movie stars Hilary Swank, Matthew Perry and Ginnifer Goodwin.
Young Hollywood: Breakthrough Performance – Male, ''Alpha Dog,'' 2006
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, ''Six Feet Under,'' 2004
Daytime Emmy: Outstanding Performer in a Children's Special, ''Bang, Bang, You're Dead,'' 2003