Ben Foster is certainly young enough to have missed a movie like 3:10 to Yuma. When he was cast as Charlie Prince in the remake, Foster made it a point not to study the original film.
Ben Foster on 3:10 to Yuma
"I have to be pretty specific about what I'm putting in my system while prepping a job," said Foster. "You try to get yourself as open as possible and you start living, ideally in the subconscious availability so I didn't want to repeat or reference that at all. I was going in different directions for prep work."
Charlie is a cold blooded killer who worships his gang leader Ben Wade. Charlie clears a path of bodies trying to break his boss out of a prison convoy. "We had a great time developing Charlie. Going over a lot of photos of outlaws with Jim [Mangold] and Arianne [Phillips], our brilliant costume designer, we came to the conclusion that outlaws were rock stars of their day, very flamboyant dressers. And at least my take on Charlie is that he's the prince and Ben Wade is in fact the king. So if we're going in a rock and roll angle and tipping the hat to the Civil War, there is an actual white leather coat very similar to that one in a museum that we found and that felt kind of glam rock to me. So we kind of went down that direction so it was just watching a lot of Bowie and how he would move."
As many actors say, Foster would not call his character a bad guy, despite the body count. " I know you guys have all heard it, where it's 'I don't play a bad guy. I'm doing my thing.' But at the end of the day you've got to love the person you're playing to the bone. You've got to fight for that person and the only way to do that is to understand their beliefs and their life. And that for Charlie is Ben Wade. So if you can find that place in yourself in which you would do anything for someone that you love, you can get close to wrap your head around it. And then when you're in an environment like that and you're against the elements, you have to kill to survive. So it becomes very simple."
Foster also had to get comfortable on a saddle. "I think it's made me a better actor because you can't fake it. You can't lie to a horse. It goes from your head to your knees and if you're nervous, it's in the horse and he goes. So the first month of shooting, there's always going to be an adrenaline rush before doing a scene. There's always going to be a refocusing and during that refocusing it goes right to the knees and I'd be the one guy on the horse and the horse was like this [shaking around]. And it's hard to look like a bad ass when [you're saying], 'Okay, okay, okay. Calm down. Relax.' And about six weeks in, and Russell was really great about this, he spent a lot of time with me off set and on, on horseback just getting used to it and just saying it's got to be from a place of calm. If you can live in that space, I think the work benefits."