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He’s serious about his acting, and about his tattoos, Matthew Fox tells Andrew L. Urban, on his Sydney visit to promote Vantage Point, in which he plays a secret service agent. But the lad from Wyoming originally wanted to be a racing car driver ...

As a youngster, Matthew Fox was desperate to be a racing car driver … and later, he was obsessed about running the world’s fastest 100 metre sprint. “Then reality about my athletic abilities hit,” he says with a smile, as he leans back in the Sydney hotel armchair, looking passably like a sportsman. Almost. Tall lean, healthy … and his inner arms splendidly tattooed.

"a colourful complement"

The tats, begun 10 years ago, “are all about something important … ideas or events … they’re all saying something,” things he feels strongly about – but that’s about as much detail as he’ll divulge. “I don’t tell anyone what they mean – and I’m perfectly prepared sometime in the future to look back and wonder how I could have felt so strongly about this or that,” he adds philosophically. But for now, they’re a colourful complement to his persona. “A lot of people associate tattoos with prison, although now they are becoming more mainstream … but still, there’s a sense of fraternity, and those who don’t just do it on a whim but take it seriously, they all recognise each other.”

For an actor, they can also be a nuisance sometimes – for make up artists having to cover them in certain roles, he adds without the slightest hint of regret.

Raised on a Wyoming ranch (but not a very prosperous one), Matthew abandoned hopes of a sporting life after college (he got a degree in economics at Columbia); he sought out work that would bring home some cash – fast. (But he hasn’t abandoned cowboy style boots …) He got an agent and started doing tv commercials. In a while, his agent encouraged him to test for dramatic roles. He went to acting schools – notably the Atlantic Theatre Company founded by William H. Macy and David Mamet – “and acting started to make sense to me.”

But unlike racing cars or sprinting 100 metres fast, his acting career evolved; “it was slow and incremental,” he says. “I approach it as a marathon, not a sprint. And I put a lot of pressure on myself to do it well.” He’s serious about it.

Matthew, best known as the heroic doctor Jack Shepard on the smash hit TV series, Lost, is in Australia to promote his action feature, Vantage Point, in which plays the secret agent colleague to Dennis Quaid’s Presidential protection unit operative. Previously he starred in Party of Five, but now his career is heading Hollywood-way. In Vantage Point, his character is not what he first seems, and plays a key role in the revelation of the plot to assassinate and/or kidnap the President of the US during a special anti-terrorist summit in Salamanca, Spain. His co-stars also include Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver and William Hurt as the President.

"an amazing director"

“All these people, I’ve been watching on screen all my life so it was a terrific thing to work with them.” Matthew is also enthusiastic about director Pete Travis. “He’s an amazing director and starts out by getting to know the cast as people.”

His previous movie prior to Vantage Point was the sporting drama, We Are Marshall, but coming up next is his childhood dream come true, when he plays Racer X in Speed Racer, starring with Emile Hirsch and Christina Ricci, directed by the Wachowski brothers of Matrix fame.

Published March 13, 2008

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Matthew Fox in

Australian DVD release: March 13, 2008

VANTAGE POINT, dir: Pete Travis
Secret Service agents Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid) and Kent Taylor (Matthew Fox) are assigned to US President Ashton (William Hurt) for the duration of a landmark summit in Spain’s Salamanca, where a global anti-terror initiative is to be announced. When the President is shot on the podium in the large public square, chaos is fuelled by two bomb blasts. From the crowd, US tourist Howard Lewis (Forest Whitaker) is camcording everything, while in the mobile GNN News centre, Rex Brooks (Sigourney Weaver) is producing the live to air news feed of the event. The vision captured provides some leads – with disturbing and unexpected results.

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