There are very few actors who have flawlessly mastered the bad boy role. Taylor Kitsch is definitely one of them. Early in his career, Kitsch proved that he had some seriously impressive acting chops when he landed the role of the brooding football player from the wrong side of the tracks, Tim Riggins on NBC's teen drama Friday Night Lights. In fact, his acting coach who worked with him to land the part compared his talent to some very seasoned actors.
His coach? That would be Taylor Sheridan...the actor turned filmmaker and creator of the mega-hit TV show Yellowstone. During filming, Kitsch would regularly cut out some of his lines and just tell the other actors that instead of responding he was just going to give them "a look."
"You hear stories where Steve McQueen would literally give lines away," Sheridan explained to GQ. "I just worked with Kevin Costner, and he'd say, 'I don't need to say this line--I can say it with a look.' That combination of talent and knowing the character is rare."
While it's hard to imagine Kitsch anywhere other than the Lone Star State, he grew up in a trailer park in Kelowna, British Columbia. Though he was a successful junior hockey player, an injury forced him to pursue other interests and he ended up in New York City with a modeling contract. But it wasn't an overnight success story for Kitsch. He didn't have a visa and was having trouble booking jobs. In fact, he would regularly sleep on the subways between crashing on friends' couches. Though he was able to finally get a manager he couldn't do the first acting job he booked because of the visa situation. So he took some time off to make money working for his father (digging ditches) before he was able to buy a car and drive out to Los Angeles.
Even with Kitsch's good looks, he didn't roll into Hollywood and immediately end up on a TV show. In fact, he had a second homeless stint where he ran out of money and was living in his car for a while. But then he booked a small part in John Tucker Must Die. Then Snakes on a Plane. Then The Covenant. Friday Night Lights followed but originally, Riggins wasn't meant to be a major character. If you go back and watch the first few episodes you'll notice that he's barely in it. It was literally Taylor Kitsch who changed his future on the show by bringing some of himself to the role.
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"I was told he wasn't gonna last," Kitsch explained to Interview Magazine. "Whatever it was, people clicked to him, and the studio loved him and what we were doing with him...the dry humor that Riggins has--that's mostly improv. I played hockey my whole life. I was just hanging out with a bunch of pro-hockey players who were good friends. Calling everybody six, seven, two, zero--that's Riggins. Calling that whole apology on the field, all of it was made up on the day of."
After becoming one of the most popular characters on the show, Kitsch started getting calls from major movie studios. He asked the FNL writers to temporarily write out his character and had three movies come out in a year that ended up being way less successful than anticipated -- Battleship, Savages, and John Carter. The biggest disappointment was definitely Disney's John Carter which, despite all the hype, ended up being a major box office flop. Kitsch had to literally give away his beloved dog to film in England for 6 months, dieted rigorously to keep up his physique, and it seemed like it was all for nothing. He was devastated. But he didn't let it defeat him.
Kitsch went on to prove that he is incredibly diverse and has way more to offer as an actor than just playing athletes and military men in films like Lone Survivor and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He starred as Paul Woodrugh in HBO's True Detective season two, played cult leader David Koresh in the miniseries Waco, gay rights activist Bruce Niles in Ryan Murphy's film The Normal Heart, and will be in the upcoming Amazon TV series opposite Chris Pratt, The Terminal List. He's proven that he can master the small screens just as easily as major feature films. Though at this point in his career, he's particular about the roles he chooses. After all, he initially was inspired by the dream of starring in indie films, becoming the next Sean Penn.
Similar to his former FNL co-star Kyle Chandler, Kitsch had an immediate connection to the state of Texas while filming the series for five seasons. Though he keeps things low-key driving an F150 truck, the Canadian spent six years building his dream house on Lake Austin after living for a decade in a condo that he purchased in the second season of the show. He's fully embraced the relaxing vibe the state of Texas has to offer as a nice balance between having a career amidst all of the craziness of working in Hollywood and it just makes us like him even more.
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