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Interview with WALKING OUT actor Josh Wiggins

October 6, 2017

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He was first noticed back in 2014, when at fourteen years-old, Josh Wiggins appeared in writer/director Kat Candler’s “Hellion” alongside Aaron Paul and has since managed to built an impressive body of work so early in his career. His work has been steady since that debut, showing up in films like “Max” with Thomas Hayden Church, “Lost in the Sun” starring Josh Duhamel and “Mean Dreams”, alongside the late Bill Paxton. That’s all within a three-year span and later this month he can be seen in “The Bachelors”, sharing the screen opposite Oscar winner, J.K. Simmons. But, before then audiences can find the now nineteen year-old in theaters in “Walking Out”, in which he shares the lead with Matt Bomer. Like in this other roles, Wiggins exudes a prominent confidence and openness in “Walking Out” and I recently chatted with him on the phone about his experience making this movie.

Based on an American short story, “Walking Out” is an adventurous father-son epic, following an urban teenager David and his estranged outdoorsman father, Cal. When their yearly hunting trip in Montana wilderness goes terribly wrong, the men have to fight to survive in grueling conditions in the wilderness after receiving some serious injuries, forcing them to grow in their relationship as they struggle to survive. The film also stars Bill Pullman in flashback scenes as Cal’s father, which speaks to the history of generational masculinity and outdoors education that’s been passed on between fathers.

In the interview, Wiggins describes how he earned the role of David in the movie, what the snowy shoot was like in Montana, his preparation for the physically demanding role and how Matt Bomer was generous enough to carry him off camera.

You can find my review of “Walking Out” here, but in the meantime, check out my interview with Josh Wiggins below….

 

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DAVID J. FOWLIE: Hey Josh, thanks for taking some time to talk about “Walking Out”.

JOSH WIGGINS: Of course.

DJF: How were you approached for this role, how did it come to you? 

JW: I was approached by the producer first of all, Brunson Green. It was at a wrap party for a another film I was shooting and he kinda pitched me the storyline and I was immediately hooked on it. So, he kind of got in touch with the directors and they knew Kat Candler, who I was with on the first thing I did. That sent me the first script that way and it was one of the first scripts I read where I read in one sitting, because it just really grabbed me. I couldn’t stop reading it. So, I reached out to Andrew Smith about it and we kinda talked about it and I signed on shortly after that.

DJF: Were you aware at that point that this was based on a book?

JW: Yeah, he did tell me it was based on a short story, but I hadn’t read it.

DJF: I was just curious to know if your character had differed at all from the source material or if it was basically the same.

JW: Yeah, I’m not sure. I do know it’s a little different adapting a short story as opposed to a thirty-chapter novel. You get to retain the elements that are in that short story. So, I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s more loyal to the source. I do know they bumped up the age of the character from twelve to like around sixteen or around there.

DJF: Gotcha. What was the shooting process like? Did you and Matt hang out or rehearse prior to shooting, spending time in Montana – or was your first time meeting Matt on your first day of shooting?

JW: The first time I met him was the first scene we had together. I had seen him, we were in the same hotel together, before we started shooting. So, I saw him get in the shuttle to the set. So, before the first scene –  I introduced himself, he introduced himself, father and son, we know each other for ten minutes – and then call “action”. So, it helps whenever you’re working with someone like that –  I mean, it turned out he and I had a lot in common, he grew up about ten minutes from where I lived. So, we had that same kind of home grown core to us and that really kind of speaks to our chemistry.

DJF: I imagine part of the draw to the role is this father and son relationship, but the other draw for this project was basically being outdoors for the majority of the shoot. I’m sure you knew it was going to be physically demanding, was there something though that took you by surprise though, in that sense? In retrospect, looking back and thinking, “Man, I wasn’t prepared for all that”? 

JW: (Laughs) Yeah, luckily I prepared as much as I could. I started dead-lifting a lot with this trainer, before we shot, which really really helped. But when you’re doing all the kinds of things that I would have to do for long enough, there’s no amount of training can really prepare you for that exact thing. By the end of it all, I was pootered out, to say the least. I knew what I was getting into and I knew that that was going to be the case. So, I kinda tried to take it on the chin. But, everyone involved was really awesome in making sure I was okay and comfortable and all that.

DJF: Yeah, because as I was watching you carrying Matt, I was thinking to myself, “I hope they gave Josh a break on set and maybe Matt carry you around on the set”. 

JW: (Laughs) Oh yeah, he definitely did just that. He carried me up to the set every now and then. He was up for that.

DJF: So, there’s the physical part of your role and then there’s the internal, emotional side of the character – there’s a lot going on internally with both of these guys. There’s not a lot said, initially, because the two are estranged and, well, they’re guys. I was wondering, what did you draw on to prepare yourself for the internal aspects of your character?

JW: It’s really just kind of thinking back and drawing on the times you’ve ever had a disconnect from someone. I mean, any little kid, any teenager, has felt that at some point in their lives. So, it’s something that everyone’s experienced to some degree. I think everyone has felt that at some point, so I just had to refer back to that time in my life and explore that.

DJF: I know you didn’t have any scenes with Bill Pullman, but you guys hung out at Sundance. What was it like meeting him? 

JW: It was awesome. I never saw him on set or anything. He shot all his stuff before I even got there, really. I was lucky enough to have dinner with him and everyone else and any time you’re with someone who’s been in the industry this long, it’s a pretty cool experience. He’s a super nice guy. And yeah, we saw each other and Sundance when we were all hanging out, so that was definitely a really cool experience.

 

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DJF: What was the response to the film at Sundance?

JW: Very positive. Everything that we saw, as far as the crowd and the venue itself was good. It was very cool. I had been to Sundance before, but that was my first time there, so I never really got to digest everything, but this being my second time, I really got to take everything in. So, it was really cool.

DJF: Were you at Sundance before for “Hellion”?

JW: Yeah.

DJF: I noticed you have another film coming out in a couple weeks with J.K. Simmons. Did you shoot that prior to “Walking Out” or after? 

JW: Yeah, it was last April, I believe. So, a little bit after “Walking Out”. So, it was nice going from below freezing Montana to having to carry a grown man on my back to sunny California. It was a nice way to make up for those rough five weeks.

DJF: Was five weeks the length of the shoot in Montana?

JW: Yeah, five weeks in total. We kinda split it up. Shot in November and then in picked back up in January.

DJF: Were those planned and purposeful pick-up shots or was it just it just due to the weather?

JW: It was all scheduled out like that.

DJF: You’ve had a pretty impressive career trajectory, so far. It seems like in the movies you’ve been, you’ve played characters you have had strained or challenging relationships or interactions with adults. That’s definitely the sense here with “Walking Out”, what did you learn specifically from this experience that you’d like to take with you  as you go forward in your acting career?

JW: One of the things you can learn from this movie is that no relationship is too far gone. Obviously, when David visits his dad, he’s not excited. He doesn’t really want to be there and then they go through a really crazy, terrible experience, but there’s that bond because of it. And it just goes to show that no matter how far off you are, you can always patch things up. You can always go back to statements of affection for each other.

DJF: Well put. Josh, thanks for your time today. Good luck with the release. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your work. 

JW: Thank you, man. I appreciate it.

 

 

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“Walking Out” was an official selection of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival was recently released in select theaters on October 6, 2017.

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