After a career highlighted by roles as idealistic politicians, charming lobbyists and, most recently, the president, Aaron Eckhart is ready to take charge in the real world.
The 45-year-old California native with made-for-screen looks is in the midst of a major transition, making the leap that every actor dreams of: taking control of his career by not only producing his own movies, but writing and directing them too.
Eckhart, who told interviewers earlier this year that he is producing a film adaptation of Stuart Woods’ book White Cargo, tells BuzzFeed that he will also write and make his directorial debut on the project.
“It’s about a father going into hell to get the one he loves,” he says. It’s drama fueled with action. I want to make movies the whole family can see and be entertained… I couldn’t see it going this year. I’d have to say it’ll go next year. I’m gonna do a few films myself before that.”
“I like control, I like to create. I have so much more to give than just being an actor in a movie. Actors, in post-production, you really have no association with the film whatsoever,” Eckhart says. “If you don’t produce it, you’re gone, you’re making two more movies before it even comes out. I like the idea of hanging around and being responsible for the content of the movie, being responsible for how it’s put together and then going out and promoting it… If you’re an actor for hire, it doesn’t matter, they’ll cut you anyway. It’s not endemic to me, and it’s just the way movies are made, that’s the deal going in.”
Eckhart will also star in the film, which he plans to shoot in Colombia, which is offering a 41.25% tax credit to attract production to the country. The film’s budget will run around $15 million, he estimates.
“It’s tough, because there’s a certain type of movie that’s being made that costs a lot of money, so there’s not a lot of wiggle room there,” Eckhart says. But, alluding to Colombia, he points out that doors are opening elsewhere. “The marketplace is more international than it is domestic now, so there’s a lot of pipelines that you can tap into that make it not impossible to make a movie, especially if it’s in a certain genre or storyline, so as long as you’re living within those certain parameters, then you can make a movie.”
Not that he’s sour on his own films; he’s indeed quite eager to speak about Erased, the Belgium-set thriller that sees him star as a former CIA agent who finds himself on the run after a conspiracy puts him and his teenage daughter (Liana Libertado) in the crosshairs of a shadowy multinational corporation. On his tail is Oblivion’s Olga Kurlyenko.
Eckhart is on screen in nearly every scene and performs what is perhaps his most physical role to date, with more than a handful of fight sequences that result in a generous but unwanted blood donation.
“I trained for about three or four months before this movie, doing jujitsu or MMA, training every day,” he explains. “You do these type of movies enough, and either you’re doing boxing or MMA or doing some kind of fighting, you keep it up that way. I’ve been boxing for near 15 years and I’m always doing some sort of fight training.”
He also paid a bit of a price for this role.
“It’s very dangerous, I have to say. It’s not my favorite thing to do. I like to fight, especially with stuntmen, but fighting with other actors is very difficult because you’re not two pros doing it, you’re learning it yourself,” Eckhart offers. “And when things go wrong, it’s tough, because you’re not a professional in that particular discipline. If you get hurt — like, I bent my thumb back on this and tore all the ligaments on my thumb and was pretty banged up making the movie. But that’s just how it goes.”