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Boyd Holbrook has all the makings of the next Hollywood heartthrob: brooding, swoon-worthy looks, a discerning selection of roles (past projects include “Milk,” “Behind the Candelabra” and “Out of the Furnace”) and he’s dating an Olsen. It’s essentially a stardom powder keg. The news that he landed a role in the sure-to-be-huge David Fincher movie “Gone Girl,” currently filming, all but ensures it.
Holbrook is at the Sundance Film Festival to promote two films with performances that are radically different: an intense role as the lone survivor of a coal mining explosion in “Little Accidents,” which premiered in Park City, Utah, on Wednesday night, and a lighter turn as an Aussie scuba instructor in “The Skeleton Twins.” “I play Kristen Wiig’s bad decision,” he explains of his bit part in the dramedy.
This story first appeared in the January 24, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The former film, based on a true story, hit far closer to home for the Kentucky-bred actor, as his father worked as a coal miner in Appalachia. “I really put in the work,” he says, including months of sessions with a physical therapist and neurologist to simulate the effects of a mild stroke and carbon monoxide poisoning. “It was just so uncomfortable, but I was willing to sacrifice whatever pain at the time,” he says of atrophying one side of his body to achieve a more realistic portrayal.
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Aside from his Appalachian roots, the 32-year-old also shares his character’s approach to fashion. “A good pair of boots, a good pair of jeans and a change of underwear and socks, and I’m fine,” he sums up with a laugh. “The whole tuck-in-the-jeans boot thing, that derives from not getting the bottom of your pants dirty or soaked with coal or mud, so it’s a function rather than a fashion statement,” he continues, noting costume designer Meghan Kasperlik’s use of “practical” clothing.
There are fringe benefits to his low-maintenance, scruffy approach. “I think it’s what women are attracted to. They want a man. They don’t want a mannequin,” says Holbrook, whose wardrobe staples include hand-me-downs. His fashion-forward girlfriend, Elizabeth Olsen, who visited the set and hung out with his onscreen love interest, Elizabeth Banks, and her family, seemingly approves of his hipster look. Though the guy doesn’t need much transformation. “That dude’s straight-up sexy,” Mark Duplass, executive producer of “The Skeleton Twins,” dishes.
With a handful of films coming out in the next year with heavyweights like Fincher, Sam Shepard and Terrence Malick, the indie heartthrob is poised to make moviegoers’ hearts skip a beat long after Sundance wraps up this weekend. “Boyd is not going to talk to you or me in two years,” Duplass cracks.