Prior to this year, Taylor Kitsch’s biggest feature film was 2009′s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but he was only in a handful of scenes as the card flinging mutant Gambit. The 30-year-old is probably best known as the brooding and beddable Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights, NBC’s beloved — and ratings-starved — high school football drama.
Cut to 2012. This weekend, Kitsch’s first feature film starring role, in Disney’s sci-fi adventure John Carter, hits theaters. Two months later, Kitsch’s second feature film starring role, Universal’s gonzo sci-fi action pic Battleship, also unleashes itself upon the marketplace. Two months after that comes Kitsch’s third feature film starring role, in Oliver Stone’s drug thriller Savages. That walloping one-two-three punch is such an auspicious debut for a prospective leading man that it’s hard to come up with a Hollywood precedent that equals it.
So is Kitsch ready to handle the mad rush of fame that is suddenly heading his way? “Yeah,” he told EW last month, in his typically amiable Canadian drawl (if there is such a thing). “I mean, I live in Austin, Texas, and I think so many things boil down to it being a choice. If I want to be in the s—, I can be in the s—.” So what does being “in the s—” mean? “I don’t do the L.A. stuff. I don’t put myself in the predicament of going to the clubs, going to these f—ing events, the schmooze s—. I think a lot of people think they need to go do these things to be seen or talk to people that may get them a job. But I never want to get a job that way. I’ll always leave it to my work to do all the talking, or hopefully that’s the way it is. And I take pride in that, because I think it’s becoming more rare as the more I get into it, all this press and stuff. I love the fact that I live in Austin, and I come in, do the job, and get out.”
EW spoke with Kitsch just after he’d spent a few weeks in the South Pacific finishing up his final scenes in Savages. Before that, he was in Japan, already doing press for Battleship. So how is he processing having all of these films suddenly land on top of each other? “I have my moments, like everyone else,” he says. “I’m f—ing exhausted. I haven’t been home in a month, and I won’t be home for another two months. There’s jobs you lose ‘cause of press. I mean, I didn’t get into [acting] to be a cheerleader. But I’m proud of [these films], so there’s another angle of representing the film. I mean, it’s such a Catch-22.” What Kitsch says he keeps returning to, however, is how different these three films really are, and how different he is in each of them. “They’re just so different, esthetically, attitude-wise, tonally. And as an actor, that’s what I got to keep doing. I just get so much fulfillment out of that.”
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