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.
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.”
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.
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?'”
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.
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
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
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.
“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.”
“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.”