He calls Hugh Jackman “a beast”, but the man playing Wolverine’s final nemesis says that’s not an insult, but a valuable lesson
“I DON’T CRAVE FAME, I SEEK KNOWLEDGE”
Kentucky-born actor Boyd Holbrook is best known as Steve Murphy, the DEA agent who brought down Pablo Escobar in the hit series Narcos. But after this month, everyone will know him as the man who faced down Wolverine in Logan – Hugh Jackman’s final stand as the legendary X-Man.
In real life, however, Holbrook doesn’t want to beat his rivals, but learn from them. It’s a wisdom he’s applied with increasing success, beginning with a chance encounter that set him on the path to Hollywood stardom.
THE RED BULLETIN: In Narcos you played the hero. In Logan, you’re the villain. Which suits you best?
BOYD HOLBROOK: The villain’s always the funnest, isn’t it? And this guy, Donald Pierce, he’s a little cheeky, he likes a good time, and he’s a fan of Logan. He’s an admirer.
Are there parallels to you? Are you a fan of Jackman?
That’s an easy correlation to make. The guy’s a machine, no joke. I heard going into the project, “Oh, he’s such a great guy,” but the director and the number one actor on the call sheet, they set the tone. And listen, if Hugh is busting his ass, you’d better bust your ass. We had a couple of personal talks, but I learned the most from him by action. He’s prepared, focused, loose, he’s got humility. Good ingredients.
You learned from another actor, right at the beginning your career.
I dropped out of college, got a job at a department store in Lexington, Kentucky, and Michael Shannon came in. I recognised him from Vanilla Sky. He had a couple of lines, if any, in that movie, but it was astonishing for me to meet a person who’d navigated a world like that. He said, “Get into theatre.” I quit my job that week and became a carpenter at a theatre. Ten years later, I went backstage at one of Michael’s plays in New York. Of course, he didn’t remember, but it goes to show that if someone gives you something, it’s what you make of it.
Initially, you made it as a successful fashion model.
I did that so I could get to New York. I’d written a script, a friend had put me in contact with Gus Van Sant and I naively thought he would direct it, but he gave me a ‘Where’s Waldo’ part in Milk – a couple of lines here and there. Three lines with Morgan Freeman [in The Magic Of Belle Isle], that’s worse than trying to carry an entire film.
In what way?
Because you’re putting so much importance on Morgan Freeman, on those three lines. There’s a learning curve that everyone who’s ever made a film is going to have – if you’ve made three films you haven’t made five films. Being a younger actor you could drive yourself crazy over something like that.
Surely all experiences count?
Absolutely. There’s so much you can learn through osmosis of being on set. I worked with Christian Bale on Out Of The Furnace. Christian was going on to a Terence Malick film about the music industry (the upcoming Song to Song) and I play a little music. That’s how the conversation started. I met Terry and we started a couple of months later.
Fortuitous encounters seem crucial to your progress.
I’m blessed, but also, I make my own luck. That’s why I started a production company. But I’m the biggest fan of Michael Shannon and Christian Bale. Rather than seeing this as some sort of Hollywood competition or craving fame, I want to work. I think those two gentleman share the same attitude.
How do you stay grounded?
It’s important to be proud of yourself and where you’ve come from. I used to have insecurities of being from Kentucky, being around kids in New York City who had a deeper educational background than me, or didn’t have an accent like mine. Those were big obstacles.
Did attitudes change towards you after Narcos?
Absolutely. I can’t walk around with a moustache.
But you have a moustache in Logan.
It’s a full beard.