Though Ben Foster is officially starring as Treat in Broadway’s Orphans, as far as the cast and crew of Orphans is concerned Foster should probably be billed as “lifesaver.”
That is because Foster stepped into the role less than a month before previews were set to start after Shia LaBeouf was fired from the production. Foster wound up making his Broadway debut under a cloud of controversy as LaBeouf made his behind-the-scenes drama with co-star Alec Baldwin very public by posting e-mails between the cast and crew on Twitter. Foster spoke about his stepping into the role to The New York Times.
Foster was ready to jump in the role because he originally auditioned for it, but lost out to LaBeouf. He says, “I was crestfallen that it didn’t work out originally. Then I got a phone call saying, ‘Are you still interested?'”
However, Foster admits that he was nervous about his lack of theater experience when reading for the role, revealing, “I hadn’t been pursuing theater actively. This was really the first play that I’d read to be considered before. Reading it was like holding something electric in your hands. The language is deceptively simple and aggressive. There was this feeling of seizure: ‘I don’t know if I can do this.'”
Because his acting work was for film and television, Foster confesses that the rehearsal process was a huge obstacle for him. He explains, “I’m not accustomed to rehearsing with anyone. Quite frankly I don’t do rehearsals. The way I’ve been working for years, I go out and research — a recon mission — and bring it back to my director. We discuss notes, we approach the script, we integrate into the script, and then we show up and block out a scene and turn cameras on. That’s all I know. So this feels like complete nudity.”
Regardless, Foster has at least one fan: LaBeouf himself, who saved face by sitting in the front row during the first preview performance and giving the cast — and Foster in particular — a standing ovation.