Ben Foster

Ben Foster

Foster spent his first four years in Boston, MA until his parents decided to trade in the city life for the rural environment of Fairfield, IA. Surprisingly, there were four local community theaters in the area, and by the age of eight, Foster began acting onstage. He landed his first leading role at age 11, starring as the title character in the stage production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." The following year, he debuted as a playwright and director with a one-act that won a statewide theater competition. Dropping out of high school in his junior year, Foster headed to Los Angeles and not long after arriving, gained his first screen credit with the little-seen "Kounterfeit" (1996). He became a full-time actor later that year when he was cast in the leading role of a 13-year-old braving his first year of high school on the Disney Channel/ABC series "Flash Forward" (1996-97). Although only 26 episodes were produced, the show found a core audience of fans and became something of a cult hit in its various reruns. It also served to launch Disney's lucrative arm of live action teen-oriented programming, which would create teen superstars later in the decade.Shifting gears, the baby-faced actor played a teen murderer in the 1998 NBC movie, "I've Been Waiting for You," and returned to the big screen where he joined an impressive cast that included Adrien Brody, Joe Mantegna and Bebe Neuwirth in "Liberty Heights" (1999). Serving as the central character through whom the world of 1950s Baltimore is filtered, Foster did an admirable job of anchoring yet another nostalgic Jewish memoir from Barry Levinson. He went on to appear in a recurring role on NBC's brilliant but cancelled portrait of teenage awkwardness, "Freaks and Geeks" (1999-2000), as a mentally challenged student. From that critically acclaimed but short-lived series, Foster appeared in a pair of high school-set feature films, "Whatever It Takes" (2000), a modern version of "Cyrano de Bergerac" set in high school, and "Get Over It" (2001), in which he had the lead as a high school basketball star willing to go to great lengths to win back his ex-girlfriend. After a small role in the ensemble caper comedy-turned-box office bomb "Big Trouble" (2002), Foster began to veer away from light comedy towards more substantial and interesting projects. The decision proved a good one as Foster promptly earned a well-deserved Daytime Emmy Award for portraying an alienated and potentially violent teen in the Showtime original movie "Bang Bang You're Dead" (2002). He had a small, largely silent role in "Northfork" (2003), Michael and Mark Polish's offbeat story about a 1950s Montana town waiting to be obliterated by the building of a dam, and joined the cast of the acclaimed HBO drama "Six Feet Under" in a two-year recurring role as Russell, the neurotic bisexual boyfriend of Claire, youngest member of a Los Angeles family who run a funeral home. While Foster's HBO presence added to the actor's increasing street cred, he continued to make film appearances in popcorn pleasers like "The Punisher" (2004), a failed comic book adaptation starring John Travolta and Thomas Jane, and "Hostage" (2005), in which he was featured as an unhinged serial killer who kidnaps a shady accountant (Kevin Pollak) and his two children after a bungled robbery.Foster followed up with another gritty crime drama, Nick Cassavetes' fact-based "Alpha Dog" (2006), portraying an out-of-control speed freak dealer and murder accomplice to a notorious California outlaw teen. Foster earned a Young Hollywood Award for Best Breakthrough Performance for that film, and went on to experience his first major box office hit with "X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006), the third installment of the comic book franchise directed by Brett Ratner, in which he played the winged mutant, Angel. The following year, Foster scored another high-profile film, co-starring with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale as the sociopathic second-in-command of an outlaw Western gang in "3:10 to Yuma" (2007). Director James Mangold's popular and critically praised Western earned Foster Best Supporting Actor nominations from both the Saturn and Satellite Awards.Another dark, intense featured role in the horror film "30 Days of Night" (2007) led Foster to require some comic relief, which he found in the Sundance Festival-screened comedy, "Birds of America" (2008), starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Hilary Swank and Matthew Perry as grown siblings brought to live together under one roof after years apart. The 29-year-old who successfully navigated from teen fluff to lucrative genre films made another deft transition to character-based drama with "The Messenger" (2009), in which he starred as an Iraq War veteran whose job entails informing families of the loss of a loved one. The film took home top honors at the Deauville Film Festival, which helped offset the critical and box office failure of Foster's subsequent teaming with Dennis Quaid as astronauts in the sci-fi offering "Pandorum" (2009). Lead roles in the action films "Here" (2011) and "The Mechanic" (2011) were followed by a supporting role opposite Anthony Hopkins in ensemble drama "360" (2011) and a role in the James Ellroy-penned corruption drama "Rampart" (2011), on which Foster also served as producer. After co-starring opposite Mark Wahlberg in the action thriller "Contraband" (2012), Foster played William S. Burroughs in the Beat Generation biopic "Kill Your Darlings" (2013) and co-starred with Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck in David Lowery's romantic drama "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" (2013). He reteamed with Wahlberg in Peter Berg's Iraq War drama "Lone Survivor" (2013) and starred opposite Chris O'Dowd in Stephen Frears' "The Program" (2015), a drama bout the fall of bicyclist Lance Armstrong in a doping scandal. Maritime action drama "The Finest Hours" (2016) and fantasy thriller "Warcraft" (2016) were followed by Taylor Sheridan's critically-acclaimed West Texas bank robber drama "Hell Or High Water" (2016) and a turn as the villain in "Inferno" (2016), Ron Howard's third film starring Tom Hanks as action hero Robert Langdon.