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Aaron Eckhart on ‘Sully’ and Tom Hanks Running for President

Newsweek –  Aaron Eckhart is instantly recognizable. His blonde-haired, blue-eyed, square-jawed good looks are that of the prototypical Hollywood star. He is the kind of actor who, when you see him on screen, has a strong, dependable presence and the ability to bring gravitas to a movie, whether it’s an action blockbuster as overblown as Olympus Has Fallen or, like his latest work, Sully, a subtle drama based on real events. But even with those all-American features and a commendable array of credits, Eckhart has never quite broken through as a leading man. He is perhaps Hollywood’s most valuable supporting player.

Aaron Eckhart attends the Mexican premiere of his film ‘Sully’ in Morelia, Mexico, October 24, 2016. The actor speaks to Newsweek about why he would vote for Tom Hanks as president. Jesse Grant/Getty

I present this theory to Eckhart when we meet in London’s famous Claridge’s hotel. He isn’t in the least offended. Rather the opposite, in fact. He wears it as a badge of honor. “I’m happy to take that title,” he says. “I’ve always been a solid guy for [leading women]…for Julia [Roberts in Erin Brockovich], Catherine Zeta Jones [2007’s No Reservations]. I’m proud of that. I’m proud that I can contribute in my own way.”

Eckhart, 48, might be the leading man of this interview, but we’re discussing two more films in which he comes second to the protagonist. In the Clint Eastwood-directed Sully, about the 2009 emergency landing of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, he plays first officer Jeff Skiles opposite Tom Hanks’ Captain Chesley Sullenberger. In Bleed for This, the biopic charting U.S. boxing champion Vinny Pazienza’s comeback from a life-threatening car accident, he portrays Pazienza’s trainer Kevin Rooney (Miles Teller plays the Pazmanian Devil).

Both movies have had significant awards chatter leading into next February’s Academy Awards. Having Eastwood and Hanks, both perennial Oscar favorites, on the marquee alone makes Sully a contender, but its chances are boosted further by Eckhart’s conviction as Sullenberger’s first officer, a beautifully understated script from Todd Komarnicki, and positive reviews across the world. The power of Bleed for This, meanwhile, lies in the one-two punch of Teller and Eckhart’s performances and their ability to bounce off each other. In an eerie coincidence, or fate, depending on how you look at it, the two films are released on the same day, Friday, in the U.K.

“The biggest challenge [on Sully ] for me—and the most excitement—was playing off of Tom,” says Eckhart. “A supporting character is very important because you’re defining the protagonist. Not everybody knows how to do that. If you’re trying to be the star of the movie, you’re taking some of the shine off your hero…that’s not the job of the supporting character.”

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Aaron Eckhart: ‘I have a terrible reputation’

The Telegraph – I meet Aaron Eckhart in London, early on a Saturday evening. He is dressed in a dinner jacket and a straight black satin tie for a secret assignation with Bafta. “I had it pressed for this,” he jokes.

Aaron Eckhart in black shirt

Photo credit: Rii Schroer

The suit is slim but not skinny, an important distinction for Eckhart, who, though so chiselled he could probably be used as a weapon, describes himself as “just an older man”, determined to “take the sexuality out of it”. (He is 48.) “Which is interesting in this business,” he adds, “because they try to sexualise everything. You know, all the suits are rail-thin and they’re tight and I’m like: ‘You guys! What are we trying to accomplish?'”

If you think that’s oversharing, it’s nothing. Within five minutes, Eckhart has told me that for his new film, Bleed for This, in which he plays the washed-up boxing coach Kevin Rooney, he put on 18kg, bought huge trousers but never buttoned them up, and shot the whole film “with poison oak all over my backside”. “Why are we talking about this?” he says, as if to himself.

Then he goes on.

“Three months before this movie started, I circled the day on the calendar and said: ‘I’m gonna put away the arugula salad and I’m gonna go for pizzas and banana splits’.” The weight gain led to a great deal of discomfort, he confides.

People who’ve seen Bleed for This all seem to emerge from the cinema with the same question: how long did it take you to realise Kevin Rooney was Eckhart? We first see him slumped on a floor in a stupor, and when roused, he moves so lethargically, and slouches so heavily over his enormous stomach that it’s impossible to tell who the actor is. Even after he finally lifts his bald head it’s not clear. Rooney is so far from the sort of alpha male role Eckhart seems cut out for that even if you know he’s in the film, you assume he must be playing another part.

Ben Younger, the director, gave an early screening to Steven Soderbergh, who directed Eckhart in Erin Brockovich, and, Eckhart tells me, “Ten minutes after I had entered the film Steven said: ‘Who is that guy?'”

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Aaron Eckhart: ‘I’m 48. For 20 years I’ve made mistakes’

Photograph: Mike Pont/WireImage

The Guardian – Hi Aaron. In your new movie, Bleed For This, you play the legendary boxing trainer Kevin Rooney, and you transformed physically, right down to the fake receding hairline.

You know, so much of this job is physical. So in Bleed for This, we see that my character has gained weight, he walks on the back of his heels, and these things tell us he’s tired, depressed, pissed off. I mean, I’ve studied body language, I see what you just did, shifting your weight, one side to the other. I saw your thought.

Right. So was it a tough film to make, physically?

I have a saying: “If you’re sweating you’re doing it wrong.” You don’t need to sweat. When you sweat, you’re giving effort. And the goal is to do it with no effort. People ask me, “Why aren’t you sweating?” And I say, “Because I am making myself effortless.” (1) The physical is key. Like, I know your state of mind right now by how you’re holding your body, that tension in your chest.

Just to clarify, when you say that you don’t sweat, you mean literally?

I mean physically not getting hot. But real body language is hard to catch on camera. Like, now you have your finger at your ear. Nobody is going to let me do that on film. A producer will whisper to the director, and the director will walk over and say, “Maybe try it without the finger.” But then we rob the audience of reality. Because that finger in the ear is you telling me something. (2)

Is it harder still to capture that on the kind of big-budget blockbuster you sometimes make?

In the movie made with green screen, where the director doesn’t actually know what’s behind you? Where they say, “Oh, we’re going to have aliens?” Yes. It makes it hard to be specific. (3) And being specific is where good acting comes from. Being disciplined, too. But there’s also what I call having balls. It takes balls to be disciplined. It makes people uncomfortable.

Continue reading Aaron Eckhart: ‘I’m 48. For 20 years I’ve made mistakes’

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Aaron Eckhart Gained 40 Pounds and Shaved His Head for Bleed for This Role

Aaron Eckhart Gained 40 Pounds and Shaved His Head for <em>Bleed for This</em> Role


Aaron Eckhart has always been a chameleon. Not many actors can go from playing a brawny, bearded biker in Erin Brockovich to Gotham super villain Two-Face so seamlessly.

So when his role as real-life boxing trainer Kevin Rooney in Bleed for This called for him to gain 40 pounds and shave his head, the actor didn’t hesitate. “It’s definitely more of a challenge to play an actual person because they are, in some ways, going to be defined by it for the rest of their lives,” says Eckhart. “It’s your responsibility as an actor to get as close to the real thing as you possibly can.”

To play Rooney, that meant Eckhart had to swap his usual arugula salads for pizza—and lots of it. “It was hard to gain the weight, especially because I’m usually really active,” he says. “About three months before the film, I completely stopped working out. I also changed my diet and started eating tons of pizza. Gaining 40 pounds really changes your headspace. It helped me get to the place I needed to be to play a character that is a drinker, a gambler, and generally down on his luck.”

The film itself is based on the true story of World Champion boxer Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller), who mounts one of greatest comebacks in sports, just 13 months after a head-on car crash leaves him with a broken neck. As Pazienza’s trainer, Rooney becomes the force behind a recovery that many thought wasn’t possible. “Both of these guys have been on top and have taken a fall,” says Eckhart. “But they are able to come together and support each other. And they never give up. This movie is about scratching and crawling your way back to the top. You can have as many chances as you have the imagination for.“

Though this is Eckhart’s first boxing film, it was his role in another real-life drama that helped trigger his passion for the sport. “I’ve loved to box ever since I was in Erin Brockovich,” he says. “I started boxing in 1999 to get in shape for that character and now I do it almost every single day, in one form or another. I figure you don’t learn anything from just going to a regular gym, so why not learn a skill at the same time.”

The other thing that attracted him to the project? Working with Teller, whom he also shared the screen with in 2011’s Rabbit Hole. “Back then, Miles was just out of school and now he’s a seasoned professional,” says Eckhart. “It’s been great to see how his process has changed and his evolution as an actor.”

(Photo: Mike Marsland/WireImage)

Source: In Style

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Aaron Eckhart’s Most Challenging Role To Date May Surprise You

Aaron Eckhart has played a variety of roles through the years ― from Harvey Dent/Two-Face in “The Dark Knight” to a tobacco lobbyist in “Thank You For Smoking.”

But the 48-year-old actor says his most challenging role to date happens to be his most recent. Eckhart portrays real-life trainer Kevin Rooney in the boxing drama “Bleed For This,” which follows the true story of Vinny Pazienza, a world champion boxer who breaks his neck in a car crash.

“The accent, for me, was terrifying in the sense that you have a Staten Island broken-nosed boxer guy from the streets. He has a higher register, which I really tried to get,” Eckhart told The Huffington Post’s Lauren Moraski.

To prepare for the part, Eckhart closely watched tapes of Rooney and also spent time at boxing matches to get a sense of how the sport works.

He also packed on roughly 40 pounds for the role. When he’s had to gain weight for movies in the past, Eckhart went straight for a diet of pizza, fast food and banana splits. This time, Eckhart initially tried working with a nutritionist, who put him on a meal plan focused on beans and other healthier food options. But two weeks before filming began, Eckhart hadn’t put on the pounds. So, he changed course completely, ditched the beans and consumed lots of pepperoni pizza.

Check out the clip at the source: HuffingtonPost.com

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With key roles in two acclaimed films, Aaron Eckhart revels in being out of actor jail

Los Angeles Times –  You don’t have to tell Aaron Eckhart that he’s been through something of a dry spell.  He’s well aware that landing prominent roles in both Clint Eastwood’s “Sully” and Ben Younger’s “Bleed for This” is something that, as far as his career goes, comes along once every 10 years or so.

Aaron Eckhart photo in black jacket

Photo: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

“The last time I had this situation, it was ‘The Dark Knight,’” the 48-year-old actor says. “I’ve been 20 years professionally in Hollywood and I’ve been through ups and I’ve been through downs. I have such a greater appreciation now for what it takes to be in this position in terms of having a critically acclaimed movie and a movie that performs in the box office, and so I’m just relishing it. I’m just having fun with it. I’m looking on Twitter. I would have never done that before.”

Both films find Eckhart portraying notable real-life figures. In the blockbuster “Sully” he was tasked with playing former U.S. Airways pilot Jeff Skiles, the first officer who assisted Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (played by Tom Hanks) with a dramatic emergency landing on New York City’s Hudson River.  As soon as Eckhart was cast he spoke to Skiles and asked questions that he admits seem pretty obvious but were incredibly important when researching the role.

“Did you think you were going to die? That’s what I think most people want to know,” Eckhart says.  “How did you keep from dying and killing 155 people? The answer is ‘We didn’t think about that. We didn’t have time to think about that.’ It was complete instinct. It was complete training. These guys are drilled in this. They’d give their lives over that stuff.”

Continue reading With key roles in two acclaimed films, Aaron Eckhart revels in being out of actor jail

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Aaron Eckhart Without Ego

Interview – “Oftentimes in movies, actors are playing very disagreeable, cantankerous, unattractive characters,” Aaron Eckhart says. “If you’re supposed to be in character all the time you’re going to do things that are going to displease people or make people uncomfortable—but you’re going to get a better performance. You have to weigh and balance: is it worth me pissing everybody off and having a reputation as a disagreeable person?” he continues, speaking over the phone from L.A. “If there wasn’t so much pressure to be a good guy then you’d get better performances from people.”

The cantankerous character Eckhart is referring to—and playing—is Kevin Rooney, the longtime boxing trainer who coached Mike Tyson early on in his career. In Bleed For This, we see Rooney at his lowest: drunken, overweight, gambling, and certainly disagreeable. When the accomplished and eccentric boxer Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller) breaks his neck in a horrifying car crash, the pair find redemption in one another through Pazienza’s hard fought return to fighting form, despite doctors’ uncertainty over if he’d ever walk again.

In order to portray the aging coach, Eckhart gained weight, shaved his head as if his hairline had receded, stuffed tissues up his nose to capture the nasal sound of a Rhode Island accent, and rarely broke character or spoke to his family or friends during the film’s shoot. While classically gruff—as what boxing trainer isn’t?—his performance provides a necessary, sobering presence to balance out the possessed rage and passion of Teller’s Pazienza. While maybe not always likable, the duo provides a compelling exploration of the violence, fervor, and highs and lows of boxing.

ETHAN SAPIENZA: I read that you originally wanted to be a songwriter, is that right?


SAPIENZA: Were the arts something that always compelled you?

ECKHART: Yeah. My mother and her mother are writers and poets. [When] I was about 14, I was going to rugby practice and they had auditions for a Charlie Brown musical. Because there was no competition I got Charlie Brown. It all started there. I knew I wanted to be an actor then. I just started doing plays in high school. No one in my family is in the business. Nobody encouraged me. I went to school and then went to university and got a film and acting degree. I moved to New York and didn’t get my real first film role until I was 27, which was In the Company of Men. It definitely was not in my family zeitgeist for sure.

SAPIENZA: Were you still writing music while trying to become an actor?

ECKHART: Oh yeah. I continue to write songs. I guess I got that from my mom—my love for words and images, creating feelings with words—the challenge of that. I’ve always been interested in that—the challenge of making songs.

SAPIENZA: Do you find there’s any overlap between songwriting and acting?

ECKHART: I always have a guitar on me when I’m in my trailer. I’m always writing songs, and definitely when I’m doing a character and need to get into a mood I use music to do that—whether it’s an aggressive mood or a sad mood.

Continue reading Aaron Eckhart Without Ego

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Aaron Eckhart: ‘I don’t think about being a star anymore. I’ve given that up’

Actor Aaron Eckhart has accomplished a lot in his career. He’s been in numerous blockbusters including “The Dark Knight.” He was nominated for a Golden Globe award for his starring role in “Thank You For Smoking.”

Most recently, he plays co-pilot Jeff Skiles to Captain Sullenberger, played by Tom Hanks, in the film “Sully.” And he plays famous boxer Vinny Pazienza’s coach in the film, “Bleed For This.”

His big break came in 1997, with Neil Labute’s film “In the Company of Men.” But, like most actors with a 20-year career, he hasn’t always picked great films. For instance, his 2014 film “I, Frankenstein” made less than $20 million domestically and currently has 3 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Frame’s John Horn spoke with Aaron Eckhart about being directed by Clint Eastwood in “Sully,” how Hollywood prepped him to be a movie star, and how he realizes that he’s not trying to be a leading man anymore.

Listen to it at the source: 89.3KPCC


On how he reacted when he got the part in “Sully”:

In this business, every single day of your life can change on any given day. So I just got a call and somehow Clint Eastwood wanted to meet me. It was one of those moments. It’s been years since I jumped around in my car and fist pumped and yelled. I remember where I was when I did it and I went right back to 20 years ago when I started making my first film in the sense that I was just overjoyed to be making a movie with such professionals.

On the realities of being a movie star:

It’s hard to get into these films. There’s a handful of actors who are consistently getting into “blue chip” films that are about something, that are meaningful, that have great directors and have the studio behind them. In my career, sometimes I’ve been in and sometimes I’ve been out. I feel like I’m just getting out of prison after six years and it feels good.

Horn: A prison of what?

You know, maybe questionable choices of taking a shot here that didn’t work out and having to work myself out of it. I count myself lucky to be in the business after 20 years. And for me to still be kicking around and still be a viable, recognizable commodity in this business is a huge achievement.

Continue reading Aaron Eckhart: ‘I don’t think about being a star anymore. I’ve given that up’

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‘Bleed for This’ Cast on Bringing Boxer Vinny Paz’s Life to the Big Screen

Aaron Eckhart on preparing to play boxing trainer Kevin Rooney

I’ve been boxing training for about 20 years, ever since I did “Erin Brockovich.” So, I knew it a little bit, saw a picture of Kevin, looked him up and said, OK, got to get to that guy.

I went through a great boxing trainer here, Freddie Roach, took me through his training camp with Pacquiao and Bradley, so I stuck it out and went to Vegas with them, was in the locker room before and after. Freddie taught me everything I know about training, about doing the mitts, about the psychology of a fighter, the psychology of an opponent. The whole chess game. Then Kevin Rooney Jr., Kevin’s son, was fighting in the Algieri camp when Pacquiao fought him later that year, so I went to that camp and I hung out with Kevin Rooney Jr. and he told me about his father and his training style, his technique. Then I went to the internet and got everything I could on his fights because Kevin was a fighter himself and had many interviews. Anything I could.

When I was in Vegas, I met all the old promoters who knew Kevin. They told me stories. As Miles said, in Rhode Island everybody had a story. So, by the time we were filming, we were well educated.

We have a responsibility because these are real people and they’re living and you have to respect, reverence for them. I want to look like him. Everyone on the set was really committed to this film, these characters. It was very important for us to portray this family as they lived, as they are. It’s important to Rhode Island as well. Ben took that seriously. I put on the pounds. The moment I cut my hair is the moment I knew I was doing the movie. It was great. It put you in character.

Listen to it at the source: KCET.org