Ben Foster was born two days before Halloween in 1980. His family moved from Boston shortly after he was born, and he grew up in the Midwest town of Fairfield, Iowa. The town featured a strong theater presence, and Foster showed signs of a promising Hollywood career even before he hit his teens.
The young actor starred as Charlie Brown in a local play before writing a production at the age of twelve. Foster directed and acted in his own play and placed second in an international youth playwright competition. He attended a summer theater program, and by the age of sixteen, he was done with mainstream life.
The young actor took a major risk by dropping out of high school and moving to Los Angeles. Despite the lessons preached by cautionary afterschool specials, Foster’s risk paid off¾he was soon cast in the 1996 Disney series “Flash Forward.” Foster’s decision to quit school wasn’t as rash as it seemed, however. He’d sent a homemade talent tape to an agency, and Cecily Adams, a professional casting director, saw it. She contacted Foster’s parents and urged them to send him to Los Angeles; Adams was casting for “Flash Forward” at the time.
Unlike many young Disney stars, Ben Foster broke away from teen movies early in his career. He started playing a wide range of disturbed or violent characters. Foster is notable for a frantic delivery, an intense style, and a hoarse acting voice. Following his short stint with Disney, Foster leveraged his unusual presentation and style with roles in the television movie “Bang Bang You’re Dead,” for which he won an Emmy, and HBO’s award-winning series “Six Feet Under.”
Within a few years, Foster achieved big-screen success. His work includes roles in “The Punisher” and “Phone Booth.” However, Foster’s breakout role may have been as a crazed serial killer in 2005’s “Hostage.” This film cemented Foster’s move from lightweight comedies and teen roles to heavier, darker roles suited to his edgy voice and acting style.
After “Hostage,” Foster landed roles in bigger films that featured ensemble casts. His award-winning portrayal of a drug dealer in “Alpha Dog” added to the list of gritty crime dramas on his resume, but Foster’s next job helped him break through those barriers. He joined an all-star cast in 2006’s “X-Men: The Last Stand” as the popular Marvel character Angel.
A year later, Foster joined Christian Bale and Russell Crowe on the set of “3:10 to Yuma.” Again, he played a sociopathic character and was nominated for several awards for the role. During the same year, Foster turned in another dark performance in “30 Days of Night” before moving on to lighter fare in 2008’s “Birds of America.” Foster has seen steady work over the past few years and starred with Mark Wahlberg and Taylor Kitsch in “Lone Survivor,” which saw limited releases throughout the United States in 2013 and is set for full release in January 2014.
Foster has been seen with a number of young actresses and purportedly dated stars like Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Zoe Kravitz, and Robin Wright. Ben Foster’s younger brother, Jon, is also an actor. Jon’s credits include television’s “Accidentally on Purpose” and “Life as We Know It.”
According to reports, Foster is dedicated to his craft. He takes his roles seriously and does the work necessary to turn in authentic performances. A professional gun coach trained Foster for his work in “3:10 to Yuma.” Thell Reed, the gun coach, previously worked with actors such as Kurt Russell, Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, and Val Kilmer. For his role in “Alpha Dog,” Foster put glaucoma drops in his eyes to create the appearance of being high; he kept his eyes closed when not filming to avoid light and spoke to the director with his eyes closed much of the time.
Over the past few years, Foster has been listed as an actor to watch by many industry magazines and websites. He’s also appeared in Entertainment Weekly and Variety Magazine. His ability to immerse himself in a variety of roles means he’ll likely be cast in a range of movies far into the future.