Ben Foster Burst Into Tears When He Read The War Veteran’s Story "Leave No Trace”


Actor Ben Foster of "Hell or High Water" and "The Messenger" opens up on "Salon Talks" about playing a veteran in Debra Granik's "Leave No Trace," out June 29. Foster's character and his daughter in the film, played by Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, live undetected for years in the vast woods of Oregon until their world is upended and they must abruptly adapt. "I finished the script and just burst into tears," Foster told Salon's Andrew O'Hehir. Foster connected with the parenting choices his character struggles with, and in particularly, the story's connection to his own role as a new father.

The central question of "Leave No Trace" comes down to a simple humanistic question, which Foster explained. "What do we actually need in life to live a life that's fulfilling? These are questions that I am asking as a parent, as a man every day." Playing veterans onscreen is not only a coincidence for Foster, but a conscious choice and interest area for him outside of acting. Watch the video above to hear why tortured, deep roles in independent film have defined his acting career and why Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans' stories are part of his generation's responsibility to tell.

Plus, Foster reveals how he got into character for the role, which included survivalist training and spending time teaching Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie survival skills in the woods. "I love prep. I love the collaborative process." Foster said. The actual finished film, Foster says, is like "the receipt of a great meal."

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