This is an American in Paris who receives us at Fouquet’s to talk about The Program , the latest feature film by Stephen Frears in which he takes on the role – and bikini – the cyclist the most controversial in the history of cycling. His likeness is uncanny in the biopic. But today, with his stubble, his ash blond and arms studded with tattoos – one can imagine the ordeal to hide when shooting – Ben Foster, 34, has nothing of the Texan stripped of his seven Tours of France. A treacherous and bilious character that the actor desperately tried to understand. Meeting
The Point.fr. Were you aware of Armstrong case before shooting The Program
Ben Foster: Not at all. I was not following the Tour de France, and I did not know much about cycling. All I knew was that Lance was a cyclist. And that’s about all.
What were Stephen Frears’s arguments to convince you of to embody screen?
He told me to “remain available” until the script is written. I had three months before me, I had to read about 75 books on the subject. There was so much to digest … I went to Colorado to get familiar with the cycling race where I joined the Garmin-Cannondale team for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge (Tour of Colorado, Ed). I met many speakers, like a real journalist. On returning, I had about 15 hours of recording. I met Frankie and Betsy Andreu [former captain of the US Postal Service team and his wife, who had described the details of the Armstrong of doping confessions in sworn testimony in 2006, Ed], mechanic Lance, his nutritionist … I began to gather a lot of information. It was at that moment that Stephen told me: “All right, you got the role!” The filming was starting six weeks later. The training could begin.
Exactly, have you experienced physical transformations to slip into the skin of e Lance Armstrong?
I prefer not to talk about (laughs). I mostly had to adapt: I never shod with clipless pedals! How to engage the cursed wedge without losing balance? I kept falling. I had six weeks to become the greatest cyclist of all time and I was unable to stand! I trained with members of the pack, with people who had run with him, with others who had registered its aerodynamic on computers. We used it on my body for comparison. The way the bike was set up, the way I was standing on the machine, with the hips back, arched body, and heels turned outwards, his brutal ride … We did everything as was accustomed to. It was exciting to learn all these things to the millimeter, because I have not only learned to ride a bike, I learned to roll his way.
So you might win the Tour de France!
Well, let’s say I’m a much better runner today! (laughs)
And Lance Armstrong, you l ‘ve met?
I ‘ tried to contact him through one of our consultants. But he rejected my request.
Why not having directly contacted?
I would have loved to talk to him. To be honest, I wrote him an email. I have sent him, and he came in my mailbox, unchanged. I tried to contact him through two consultants, but my message never reached him. I took it as a sign. A message from them to urge me to leave him alone. And all this was done in the back of Stephen. He told me: “Do not contact the We have not spoken to the queen when we did The Queen ..” I do not say I did everything in my power, but I wrote it. Three times. In different forms in each case. Now it’s too late!
How do you think Armstrong responded by seeing the movie?
It’s not that I do not care his opinion, but in my eyes, what he thinks is irrelevant at this stage. We have not made this film for him. This is a part of his life, not its entire life. And this part of his life, “the program”, has hurt many people. He perceive it as he will receive it, but again, the movie was not made for him.
Stephen Frears he introduced you this biopic as impartial or, conversely, as a biased portrait?
The script was moving, since we rewrote every day, as and as we accumulated information. Stephen has a really funny sense of humor (laughs). Initially, he wanted to call his film The Ugly American . I said, “Uh, ok … Thank you hired to play the ugly American I will do my best …”
Your vision character she has evolved with the movie?
Of course. The press presented it as a jerk, a liar, a doped. It was said that he had stolen the victory seven times Tour de France. That’s what people like about him utter. But looking closer, the character is more complex. He is a man who was very ill, he almost died … That’s not nothing. And to have lost friends with cancer, I know this is something that changes you and your worldview. He decided to use his story to launch his foundation fight against cancer: Livestrong, and save lives. He raised more than half a billion dollars. His hateful attitude is justified by its involvement in the life of these patients. And no matter whether to destroy the lives of those who get in his way to carry out his project. This is both an empire and war. And you know what they say: “In war as in war!” And we must not forget that there was a culture of doping. Everyone dopait at that time.
Do you share some traits with Lance Armstrong?
Like him, I can be quite obsessive, professionally speaking. But his obsession with him was to be the first, which means nothing to me.
How to explain that America is doped for so long with the Armstrong myth?
We love our heroes. To turn them into superheroes, like those comics. The period was ideal for Armstrong to be considered as such. His story resembles that of Christ, the man who dies, is reborn, save the weak, raising money … Then we realize that Christ was bogus. But if we know venerate our heroes, as we know destroy when necessary. Being betrayed by someone you trusted, it is very painful. It hurts anyone. I do not think this is unique to Americans
Watch the trailer for The Program .