One of the many films to premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival was Peter Webber’s (Girl with a Pearl Earring) historical drama Emperor. The film takes place during the days following the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II and stars Tommy Lee Jones as General Douglas MacArthur, the de facto ruler of Japan as Supreme Commander of the occupying forces. Matthew Fox plays a leading Japanese expert on the staff of MacArthur who is tasked with deciding whether or not Emperor Hirohito should be tried as a war criminal. Fox’s mission becomes more complicated as he searches for a school teacher (Eriko Hatsune) who first drew him to Japan years before the war. For more on the film, here’s a clip and some images.
Shortly before the world premiere, I sat down with Matthew Fox for an exclusive interview. We talked about why he wanted to do Emperor, how the finished film compares to the original script, how he prepares for a role, if he prefers a few takes or a lot, and more. In addition, we also talked about Speed Racer (a film I love), his physical transformation for Alex Cross, World War Z, the reshoots, Lost, would he ever do a comic book movie, and a lot more. Hit the jump to either read or listen to the interview.
Collider: How are you doing?
MATTHEW FOX: I’m doing well.
I mentioned Speed Racer before I started recording. I absolutely love that movie.
FOX: Me too.
The former Lost star has a lot of eating to do ever since losing a staggering 40 pounds to play a frighteningly thin and ripped tattooed serial killer in the upcoming thriller Alex Cross.
“My mother hated it,” Fox says with a laugh. “She’s Italian and she’s a fantastic cook and loves to feed her son more than anything. She couldn’t stand it. It really upset her.”
Fox attained his scary physique with the help of Simon Waterson, the same trainer responsible for Daniel Craig’s hot James Bond bod, Jake Gyllenhaal‘s unforgettable chest and abs in Prince of Persia and the pumped up pecs of Chris Evans in Captain America.
“We worked really hard on this for five months,” Fox said. “The training sessions were mostly circuit training. You’re going non-stop from exercise to exercise, never taking any breaks for about an hour and a half. I was burning a lot of calories and working on certain muscle groups. It was very strategic on his part and very gradual.”
In fact, he’s only gained back about 15 pounds since finishing the flick. “I’m taking my time to put it back on but eating all the things I love to eat,” Fox said. “I have a terrible sweet tooth. All those pies, ice cream and cookies were completely out the window when I was training. Pasta and bread were pretty much non-existent in the diet as well.”
Alex Cross is based on novelist James Patterson‘s detective series. Tyler Perrytakes on the starring role previously played by Morgan Freeman in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider.
“Like most everybody, I didn’t really know Tyler Perry from anything other than the stuff he’d done up until this point,” Fox said. “A really dark sort of revenge movie that was going to require a huge amount of drama and emotional intensity certainly isn’t something we had seen from him in the past. But let me tell you, everyone who has seen the film really feels Tyler has delivered on that.”
And then some—like an elbow to Fox’s head.
“We were doing this final mano a mano fight to the death on this catwalk above this old theater and it was something like 1 o’clock in the morning and we’d been at it for 10 hours,” Fox remembered. “We’re standing on a two-foot wide catwalk trying to make these huge roundhouse punches look good and Tyler caught me with an elbow. He apologized to me so many times. But it’s OK. Things like that happen all the time.”
Alex Cross is in theaters Oct. 19.