Taylor Kitsch struck out twice this year in the failed films John Carter and Battleship, spoiling the Friday Night Lights actor’s hopes to leap from TV to big-screen star.
Now, Kitsch has a third time at bat with Oliver Stone’s drug-war thriller Savages, opening Friday.
While the actor regrets that the two previous movies flopped, he’s actually a bit relieved that he can take jobs as they come without having to work around sequel schedules had those films developed into franchises.
“Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that it died, and I’m not tied to these things for the next 10 years,” said Kitsch, 31. “I’m free to do whatever I want now. If I want to do something in January, February, March, April, I don’t have to go through two studios to be greenlit.”
Still, Kitsch started the year with the prospect of two studio blockbusters that could have given him steady work for years to come in the continuing adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars hero Carter and in more tales inspired by the board game Battleship.
With a feeble domestic box office of just $73 million, John Carter inflicted a $200 million loss on distributor Disney. Universal’s Battleship did fair business overseas, but it floundered at U.S. theaters.
Yet Kitsch doesn’t regard the films as wasted efforts. “I feel I grew an immense amount as an actor. On so many levels, it tested me. I wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t take any of those choices back,” Kitsch said. “I love what I’m doing. I’ve started to get excited again, and I think, obviously, it was hard on me that they didn’t work. You have bosses, we all have bosses, you want to do well for them. But I gave everything I had.”
That dedicated work wasn’t lost on Stone, who had seen Kitsch in various projects.
Adapted from the novel by Don Winslow, Savages features Kitsch as a U.S. veteran of the war on terror who partners with his best pal ( Aaron Johnson) to run a Southern California marijuana business.
Kitsch grew up in British Columbia and got his start in such movies as Snakes on a Plane and John Tucker Must Die.
Peter Berg, who directed the big-screen Friday Night Lights and was an executive producer on the TV spinoff, also directed Kitsch in Battleship, and the two are reuniting for Lone Survivor, based on the real-life story of Navy SEALs pursuing a Taliban leader.
Despite the film flops, Kitsch figures he built relationships that might lead to roles.
“I know personally, and this is the main thing to me that matters most, you talk to anybody I’ve ever worked with, ever. They will say that I’m probably the hardest-working actor you’ve watched in preparation, in drive, in what I put into it,” Kitsch said. “I think at the end of the day, that’s what matters. If you and I work together, and I go, ‘Yeah, I’ll go to war with you again,’ I think that’s the ultimate compliment you can give anyone.”