Matthew Fox talks to BBC Movies about playing a Secret Service agent in ‘Vantage Point‘, working with the Wachowski brothers on Speed Racer and what life might be like after ‘Lost‘.
Did you have any reservations about being in an ensemble cast rather than being the star after a massive TV show like Lost?
No, I don’t ever think about that at all. The role is never the first way into a project for me. It’s always about the whole project, the entirety of the film and its potential. The director is probably the biggest piece of the pie of all the elements that vaguely come together in some way towards you feeling compelled to pursue the project, or accept an offer. Then the role comes after the director sort of says: “This is how I’d like you to serve the story”.
What form did the script take when it was presented to you?
It was one of those reads that was difficult. It was well executed and very original, and has this theme of perspective running though it, which I personally find pretty fascinating. I think about it a lot in my life, just how different things can look to different parties, depending on who they are and where they’re standing and how they want to perceive it. But the actual structure of the script was pretty straight through. It began with the event and then the re-telling of the event through these different perspectives. You also knew that it was the kind of project that post [production] was going to be a very intense experience, because there’s almost an infinite amount of ways that you could end up structuring the film.
I saw the movie about 10 days ago and was really happy with how it all turned out. I think [director] Pete Travis is just a really smart, very dedicated director. I loved the movie he did before, Omagh. I remember the first time meeting him thinking he was just somebody I really wanted to work with and felt that he was going to make a really cool film.
How did you enjoy the Secret Service boot camp?
We had consultants on the film, so it was really more like a daily basis thing for me, having somebody there. It was always very important to Pete and Dennis and I, and everybody who was playing Secret Service roles, to make sure that we got the logistics of how that would go down. We choreographed those sequences the same way that they would choreograph them. And it’s very choreographed, and very specific. So, we had somebody there to ask questions of all the time, all the way from where weapons were carried, the way communications were handled, and the positional reference of people around the President. Dennis, Pete and I really wanted to spend some time talking about what the history between these two guys might be, so that we could make some of the things that happen later in the film a little more powerful. It’s an action thriller, it’s a really intense ride, but we wanted to find the opportunities within that to try to make things heavier towards the end.
How does your commitment to a long-running TV series affect your ability to pick and choose film roles?
There are times when it’s frustrating because Lost does take up a big chunk of the year for me, but at the same time Lost is a big reason why I’m getting all these opportunities. So, I’m grateful to what the global success of the show has done for me personally, and it’s definitely a big reason why I’m getting the opportunity to work with directors of this calibre, on these kind of films with these kind of casts. Sometimes there are opportunities that I can’t be a part of, and I wish I could, but then I’m also very well aware that the very thing that’s sort of helping fuel that had got to be my number one priority.
Do you have the clout to suggest they delay a couple of weeks’ shooting on Lost so that you can do a movie?
Well yeah, they’ve done that. We shot Speed Racer last summer in Berlin with the Wachowski brothers, and there was a three-week overlap between the Speed Racer schedule and the Lost schedule. Touchstone and Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and everybody over at Lost really wanted me to have the opportunity to be a part of the film, and they restructured the shooting of the year so that I could come back two weeks later than everybody else, which I’m very grateful for.
How was being directed by the Wachowski brothers?
God, it was absolutely fantastic. I can’t say enough about them as creative minds and as people. The movie is going to be so different from anything we’ve seen. Traditional editing is out of the window, the way the movie was shot, I’m really excited for that.
Do you know how Lost is going to end?
Now that we know that we’ve got this set number of chapters left, Damon can finally actually plan out how he wants the storyline to go. So yes, I do have some ideas. I have some imagery that he’s mentioned to me. But I can’t tell you because a truck would pull up to this hotel, some guys would jump put with sub machine guns, and they’d jerk me out of here in three seconds flat [laughs].
Are you still surprised by the way your character or the story develops in Lost, or can you anticipate their moves?
No, I’m always very surprised. Damon and I talk about Jack a lot, and about the story, so there are things I’m prepared for. Last spring he called me pretty far in advance on the flash-forward situation, and obviously he had to fill me in on what that year of Jack’s life was like. I had to close this period of time, from him feeling like he was rescued off the island, towards this future where he’s a mess, he’s suicidal and desperate to go back. That was such a huge surprise to me, and such a good thing for the show, I think, a really smart move on his part. I think it’s really opened up what the show’s going to be for the next three 16-episode seasons.
How do you feel about a future without Lost?
This has been an amazing experience for me, so I’m going to really try to savour the next two seasons of shooting the show, and then I think I’ll be ready to move on to different things. I don’t think I’ll do television again. That said, I think some of the best writing is happening on television, so the only reason I’m saying that is that I have more control over what my year looks like by doing films. And I love the contained experience of doing film. You sign on to do this particular story, you spend three or four months really dedicated and focused on that one experience, and then it’s done, and you’re unemployed, and I can dictate how long I stayed unemployed and really nurture the relationships in my life, and then wait for that next thing that starts to build up and feel like I’m compelled to be a part of it. It would just give me more control over what my year looks like, rather than having a six-to-nine month piece of work on one roll. That’s pretty time-consuming.