Primarily known for his role as Jack Shepherd on the phenomenally successful TV series Lost, fans of the show will barely recognize Matthew Fox in his new movie Alex Cross, where he shed an amazing amount of weight to portray a sadistic serial killer known as Picasso.
The movie stars Tyler Perry plays the title role, a Detroit homicide detective created by novelist James Patterson, who is on the trail of Picasso.
I spoke with Matthew about his transformation into this creepy killer.
How did you prepare for such a dark role in Alex Cross?
It was a lot of work, it required about five months of not eating the things that I like to eat and not having a glass of wine with dinner. The physical weight loss part was really challenging. I was always curious about whether I could do something like that and I proved to myself that I could.
That was the way into the role for me. I remember when Rob (Cohen, the movie’s director) called me to offer me the part. I was in London doing a play there, and after I read the script that was the image that jumped into my head.
I just felt like the philosophical construct that he builds for himself to rationalize his obsessions would require an enormous amount of energy and that he would look like that naturally. On the outside Picasso looked like someone who would have these disturbing ideas. It was a real challenge and I enjoyed that.
I read that you and Tyler decided not to communicate during the shooting of the movie, is that true?
We never really made a decision to not communicate with each other. That was really driven by the nature of the film. In the movie, it’s just two guys trying to kill each othe, so there was never an opportunity for us to have an interaction beyond scenes where we were trying to kill each other.
The few moments where it was the fight to the death took several days to do and was really exhausting. We did have our moments to just have a quiet conversation. But when you’re playing that stuff, it’s not like you stop and ask, ‘How’s the family?’
Tyler really brought a lot of good stuff into this film, and the interaction I had with him, the small bit, was really good and very positive, and then we went about doing our work.
I hear he accidentally hit you during that fight sequence.
That happens. I’ve been the one that’s done that in the past. You do those fight sequences and they’re drawn out and you’re really exhausted.
Every now and then somebody makes a mistake, and you misjudge something and somebody gets hit.
Tyler caught me with an elbow about midnight on the scaffolding, when we were doing the fight.
He was so unbelievably horrified by the [accident,] he called me every day for about two days after that, just apologizing.
I tried to let him off the hook by saying, ‘It’s no problem, man, I didn’t get seriously hurt.’ So it was all good.