Lucas Black Interview: Seven Days In Utopia Actor Talks Tiger Woods, Golf
There are no editing tricks or stand-in swingers to make Lucas Black's golf game look so impressive in Seven Days In Utopia. The actor, who has previously starred in Sling Blade, Friday Night Lights and Get Low, is a scratch golfer, who is as likely to be atop the leaderboard at an amatuer tournament as he is to be at a movie premeier. With Seven Days In Utopia hitting threaters, Black was kind enough to sit down with HuffPost Sports to talk about his own own golf game, Tiger Woods and the parallels between hitting the links and delivering one's line on set.
HuffPost Sports: In the film, there is a lot of emphasis put on the importance of emotions when it comes to golf. Is that something that resonates with your experience on the course?
Black: If you're thinking clearly and are content about where your life is -- to where you can just think about the present, think about the now -- that's what you need to do to hit good golf shots. I know there are a lot of distractions, but when you're thinking clearly, you're more free. You've got to have that freedom on the golf course. It helps you execute that shot at that given moment. And that's really all that golf cares about. it could care less about anything else but that defining moment right at impact.
HuffPost Sports: Golfer Padraig Harrington recently came out and made a similar statement regarding the struggles of Tiger Woods. Do you think that one's emotional state could affect someone as talented as him?
Black: I've heard this quote before that I think comes from Dottie Pepper's dad. She said, "You don't lose talent overnight." And, I think, he was telling her that because she was in contention to win in a tournament and had a bad round, but was only still a few shots behind. She was down about her game because of some three or four or five shots that she'd hit out on the golf course, and he was like, "Look, you don't lose talent overnight." And, that's true. I dont think Tiger has lost his talent, but I think we also don't know how strongly his injury is affecting him, which could make him lose some of that talent. Whose to say what's going going through his mind? Nobody can imagine. And, I think a lot of us care too much.
HuffPost Sports: In the climactic stretch of the film your character plays in an event on the pro tour and their are cameos from several professional golfers. Did you get to spend much time with them and even play a few holes?
Black: Rickie Folwer and I, we played together at the AT&T Pebble Beach, and that's where we started our friendhsip. I was lucky enough to get him invovlved in this project. We were very fortuante that he was able to come and be in a couple of scenes in the movie.
K.J. Choi plays a character in the movie, and it was great to be able to converse with him. He's got a personality and a sense of humor. You wouldn't really realize the kind of sense of humor he has with that intimiating look he has playing on tour. But he's a man of fiath and that was great to see. He mentioned God in his speech when he won the Players Championship, which is cool becuse this movie has a faith aspect.
HuffPost Sports: When you were out golfing with these pros did you get the feeling that you could compete with them. Did it fuel your fire to eventually play on the PGA Tour?
Black: Absolutely. You know, when you're trying to get better at golf, you're always measuring your game up aginst other people to see what you've got to do to get better and to see if you can compete with them. I can't sit here and tell you that I wasn't doing that. I can hit the same shots they can hit. I've just got to do it more consistently. That's the big difference. It's all about consistency and longevity. An amateur golfer or a collegiate golfer that plays can hit shots just like tour pros, they've just got to execute them more often. But it definitely helped my confidence, and allowed me to become more comfortable in my own skin on the golf course, to be able to hang out with those guys.
HuffPost Sports: At the start of the film, the transformation of your character is sparked by a meltdown on the course. In all of your experience playing, have you had anything go that wrong for you?
Black: Well, you know, yes. But not to the certain extent of my character's meltdown. I remember I was at the U.S. Open qualifier whenI was 25 and I was playing pretty well. I think I was one under par, or even par. And I come up on a par three. it was a pretty simple par three, but the pin was tucked behind the bunker on the very right side of the green. It was a pretty big green and I should have just hit a five-iron to the imiddle of the green bcause there were like 207 yards and I think I had like 212 to the back. But, instead, I tried to get greeddy and hit like a cut four-iron. I pushed it a little bit and it bounced one time into the tall heather, like the long fescue. But it was only in it like six inches, so i tried to play it out. I got a triple bogey, a six. That's a meltdown for me. I didn't get emotioanlly distresseed as my character did. But playing golf those situations are going too happen. You're going to have a hole where you make a big number. I don't care who you are. The best players on tour have those holes. We consider those meltdowns. Golfers all have doubts. If they don't them then they're delusional and lying to themselves. Even the best players in the world will tell you that. So, I've been through experiences like my character has been through, just not the same level of drama that they show on screen.
HuffPost Sports: Watching the film, you take so many swings and the viewer sees you striking many fine looking shots. How hard was it to hit with the cameras rolling?
Black: It was different, you know. I wasn't really concerned about my game, my ballstriking or my swing because I'd been working hard on it the almost 3-5 years. And, I've been working with my swing coach for the last three years. So that wasn't a concern. It was more a timing issue. When you're out there playing on your own in a tournament, you're on your own time, your own routine. And I had to hit golf shots on cue. If they had a camera move or a dolly move or a crane move, they would say, "OK, hit." So, I told them that this isn't going to work. You're going to have to give me a countdown, or something, so I could go through my normal route. I said, "You're going to want me to go through my normal routine because it's going to look more natural and look more realistic." If I'm just standing over the golf ball for 15 seconds and you're tryng to get the camera into position, I said that doesn't look realistic. The director -- he was a new director -- he'd done a phenomenal job, but he was kind of inexeperienced as far as the golf was concerned and so was the director of photography. I took a lot of pride in that aspect of the movie so we had conversations about certain shots and certain movements and I think it worked out pretty good.
HuffPost Sports: Are the concentration and comfort level that are so important in acting things that help you in golf?
Black: For me, it's different because i look a them in different ways. Maybe i should try to look at them in similar ways. But I do feel like when I'm on the golf course that its my stage. It's my turn to hit my shot, it's my turn to show off a litlte and that comes from acting, too, really. Well, you know, it's like when I'm on the set and the camera is rolling and it's my turn to do my thing. Those two can relate. You want to be open to changes during a scene but you still have to be confident in how you want to portray your character. You also have to be open to change sometimes with your gameplan in golf, but you still got to be confident in what your doing.