In the film 21 Bridges, Taylor Kitsch and Stephan James portray Ray and Michael. They're close friends and small-time thieves whose latest heist triggers a massive manhunt after they stumble upon an enormous cache of cocaine-and then kill several cops during their escape.
Screen Rant got to speak with them about how they approached their relationship in the film and their experience with the military training they did in preparation for their roles.
Screen Rant: Guys, I really dug the film, and one of the best things about it is that your characters relationship. Can you both discuss a bit about the bond your characters share?
Taylor Kitsch: It's everything, otherwise it's gonna go down to being a cliche action film if you don't have that heartbeat underneath it. That's the one thing we focused on from day one, and that's what's gonna keep that a float and keep you engaged. That was it.
Screen Rant: Taylor you’ve said you loved playing Ray…
Taylor Kitsch: I do.
Screen Rant: What was it about Ray that you loved so much?
Taylor Kitsch: There's just an undeniable...he just...honored that relationship...to the point he would give his own life for. I think there's just something beautifully tragic behind that. And I loved kind of exploring that. One, you can reason Ray to do anything. Because of that. So I can go any which way on any given take, which I loved. And as ruthless as he can be, there's always a reasoning behind it.
Screen Rant: Stephan, I saw this interview you did for the Hollywood Reporter and you talked about the roles that African American actors are offered can be a bit one dimensional, especially in crime action genre like this film. So what was your reaction when you read this script and you saw the character that Michael ended up being?
Stephan James: I loved it. I loved Michael. I thought he was extremely layered. The film reminded me of so many films that I've been so excited about growing up. But the truth is Michael could have been anybody. He didn't have to be an African-American character, and I think that's what made the story particularly special to me. Just step into this role that could theoretically be any type of person but it just happen to be Michael. Dealing with that conflict, especially since you see the end of the film and that face off between Chadwick's character and my character and really just understanding that dynamic is so that's definitely something that aided in my involvement in the film.
Screen Rant: Taylor this was not the first time you trained as a military character, but Stephan, I think this is yours?
Stephan James: Yeah, definitely my first time doing major gun training, and yeah, I just had a blast man. We got to hang out with really cool SWAT guys who was showing us the whole gambit and playing with all the fun toys...so it was cool.
Screen Rant: Taylor, since this isn't your first time, do you learn anything new every time you go into this training?
Taylor Kitsch: Yeah, you gotta at least press the refresh button, because I don't shoot much when I'm not playing a guy that's doing it. I do love it. I love the process of it and working with these guys in armors...shout out to Vinny (Vinny Mazzarella, the film's Property Master)...he was awesome. I think it served a great purpose and I'm lucky to be trained by the best as well.
- 21 Bridges (2019) release date: Nov 22, 2019