Taylor Kitsch stole hearts in cult TV series Friday Night Lights but his ride to Hollywood success wasn’t been an easy one. As he switches gears to play a motorcycle cop alongside Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn in True Detective, he talks about his transition from jobless actor to man-in-demand.
The first season of True Detective starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. This second season features different actors, directors and locations but keeps the spirit of the original alive. Was that a challenge? It was a challenge. But season one is definitely its own entity and I think it really set a precedent — hence getting the kind of actors it attracted — because the material is so good. In season two the material dictates the tone and our job was really to be honest to those characters.
Do you feel pressure to live up to the first season? Expectations are huge. I’m not really worried or stressed about how people are going to take season two. I’m doing what’s expected of me and I’m not going to waste energy on other people’s perceptions. It’s up to me to empower the character and breathe life into him and because the material is as good as it is, it enabled me to really dive into it.
You play a motorcycle cop. How do you feel about riding motor bikes? I think being on the motorcycle, you’re just a different breed. I love that idea of just being on your own and letting your thoughts wander. It puts you in the moment whereas if you’re in a car, you’re talking on the phone or DJing with music, or eating, that’s a different experience. I drove by a guy yesterday on my motorcycle and he was literally driving with his knees. He was on the phone and eating a burger. So when you’re in a car there are a lot of things your energy can be used towards other than driving but when you’re on a motorcycle that’s all you are doing.
In your career you’ve experienced some major ups with shows like Friday Night Lights. But you’ve also had downs especially with blockbuster John Carter being panned... I had someone very close to me say to me that hopefully I’ll have many more ups and downs, not in just my career but in life. If you don’t have that, you’re not taking enough risks. And I take a lot of pride in the risks that I have taken.
You’ve been open about struggling in your early days, including sleeping on the New York subways for a while. I’d sleep (on the subways) for around two weeks at a time. There were a couple of close calls but nothing major happened and I never truly felt in danger.
Did you ever think of throwing in the towel? I didn’t give myself an alternative and I wasn’t ready to quit. I struggled for quite a while but my coach gave me the opportunity to go to her classes for free. I finally paid her back, I’m pleased to say.
And now you’re starring in much-coveted roles in film and TV ... [Laughs] Yes, my ego is really going to get carried away this year. Just watch.
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