Actor Ben Foster on playing Lance Armstrong: “those guys suffer”

“It wasn't EPO that made Lance the greatest cyclist. It was something far bigger.”

by John Stevenson   June 5, 2014  

Ben Foster as Lance Armstrong

Actor Ben Foster says that preparing for the role of Lance Armstrong in a forthcoming movie has given him new-found respect for cyclists and, perhaps surprisingly, for the disgraced rider himself.

He will star as Armstrong in a forthcoming movie based on David Walsh’s book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong, directed by Stephen Frears.

Foster told entertainment website IGN that Armstrong was “one of the greatest athletes that's ever lived”, not just for his physical ability but for his “focus”.

Foster says he spent time among cyclists and on the bike in preparation for the role. He has certainly managed to look the part. A publicity still of Foster released last year has cropped up a couple of times mistakenly used in stories about Armstrong.

Of pro cyclists, Foster said: “Those guys suffer in a very specific way. It was really interesting to spend time in that community. I had no idea what it took to push the body that way.

“It's about being eight hours in the saddle. That's a lonely, ritualized -- it's in circles. You're making circles. You're pushing past hunger. You're pushing past clarity of thought. It's a wild way to suffer. Your feet aren't going anywhere. You're going in circles up these impossible mountains.”

As for Armstrong himself, Foster seems to have developed an admiration for the rider who was stripped of seven Tour de France titles after the full extent of his and his team’s doping was uncovered.

He said: “In terms of his athletic ability, there aren't many like him. That's a combination of focus. It's as much will as being a physical body. He's one of the greatest athletes that's ever lived.”

The as-yet-untitled movie will co-star Chris O’Dowd as journalist David Walsh whose dogged pursuit of Armstrong contributed to his downfall.

But despite the revelations about doping, Foster thinks Armstrong was still something special. He said: “He came up in a time of doping, and it's my opinion, if you look at the statistics, you have to go down 17 or 18 guys for those seven years retroactively, at least, to find a clean rider.

“So it wasn't EPO [Erythropoietin] that made Lance the greatest cyclist. It was something far bigger. How he handled that ability, how he handled his will, that story's not over yet.”

24 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Quote:
“So it wasn't EPO [Erythropoietin] that made Lance the greatest cyclist. It was something far bigger."

And in Five, Four, Three, Two......

posted by farrell [1868 posts]
5th June 2014 - 13:04

27 Likes

I think we all know Lance was a great athlete; he was the best of his 'era.' It is a good sign for the film that Foster is so absorbed in his character. Lets hope the Director is more objective though.

He certainly looks the part. I hope we don't need two more Lance movies after this one.


I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer, I spat out Plath and Pinter.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1704 posts]
5th June 2014 - 13:20

20 Likes

I'm beginning to wonder if Armstrong stories should have the comments locked like in progress legal cases...

posted by mbrads72 [157 posts]
5th June 2014 - 13:20

21 Likes

As always - no story is black and white - the drugs may have been part of it, but by no means the whole tale

Buddha said:

Believe nothing, No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it, Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.

mad_scot_rider's picture

posted by mad_scot_rider [580 posts]
5th June 2014 - 13:26

16 Likes

I swear I have read somewhere in the mountain of Lance stories that the first year he won the tour only 14% of riders' samples retroactively tested were positive for EPO? If that is true it's difficult to say he came up in an era of doping. You could argue that winning his first and subsequent tours on EPO with the peleton's full knowledge that he actually encouraged the whole situation

I'm so lazy I'd rather order something off Wiggle than go to the shops for Haribo...

posted by Mr Jono [112 posts]
5th June 2014 - 13:42

25 Likes

Yep, '99 was relatively clean thanks to Festina the year before. There wasn't a test for EPO at that time so riders didn't need to be micro dosing to evade detection, they just boshed back the EPO of an evening during the Tour. The samples were tested anonymously in 2005(?) but a journo from l'Equipe got hold of the bit of paper which matched sample numbers up to riders and published it, though thinking aobut that it must have been more than 8 years down the line since they couldn't charge anyone with doping.
Anyway, Postal coming in all doped up in 99 made the next 6 years ever dopier though, I guess.
That's an extremely simplistic way of looking at things, but I really ought to get back to work.

posted by bashthebox [762 posts]
5th June 2014 - 14:12

14 Likes

When you look at the facts.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19912623

And then add those who have been linked to Ferrari, Conconi et al i.e. Evans, Roche, Delgado, Indurain

And there aren't many left.

posted by Joelsim [2016 posts]
5th June 2014 - 14:14

13 Likes

He's got the most un-Lance legs ever, I thought actors beefed up for roles? If Jackman can turn himself into Wolverine, surely you could do a few squats for this, Foster.

image.jpg

posted by Nick T [900 posts]
5th June 2014 - 15:48

18 Likes

Nick T wrote:
He's got the most un-Lance legs ever, I thought actors beefed up for roles? If Jackman can turn himself into Wolverine, surely you could do a few squats for this, Foster.

Hey, he's got tan lines though! Wink

posted by cmcg867 [10 posts]
5th June 2014 - 17:32

10 Likes

In other news, the sun will rise tomorrow morning.

posted by Beaufort [222 posts]
5th June 2014 - 18:00

11 Likes

The Sun doesn't rise, it's just an illusion caused by the Earth spinning around.


I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer, I spat out Plath and Pinter.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1704 posts]
5th June 2014 - 18:18

28 Likes

There has to be a huge amount of natural ability to actually get to the stage of being a professional cyclist, just like all other sports and lance had probably more than his fair share but the EPO took him to another level.

I hope Foster protrays him well so that people can judge lance for themselves.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3172 posts]
5th June 2014 - 18:35

12 Likes

Looks like they've tried really hard with all the details, but thats a shoe #fail. Sidis in '99? I think not. Already with Nike, no?

curdins's picture

posted by curdins [36 posts]
5th June 2014 - 20:03

12 Likes

"Fastest" - sure.
"Greatest" - not so much...

posted by Weiman [1 posts]
5th June 2014 - 20:11

10 Likes

I'm surprised that road.cc haven't done any reviews of the Pantani film, and the 'Lance Armstrong Lie'. I have seen both, and both give very sympathetic accounts of the respective riders.

I understand the culture of doping and difficulties of being a professional in this era. However, having watched 'The Armstrong Lie' Armstrong's chief talent is for crafting the narrative of his own story. He talks about doing 2009 clean, we he almost certainly wasn't. He also claims to have be dope free on the Hautacam, but conveniently cloaking the fact that he was likely to have doped in his run up to the Tour.

Ultimately his focus and drive took him to the top. But it is the ruthless and illegitimate manner in which he did that counts him down as an athlete and a human being.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1531 posts]
5th June 2014 - 20:30

18 Likes

Perhaps Ben should actually read the book the film he's starring in is based on Wink

posted by Ducci [78 posts]
5th June 2014 - 21:49

9 Likes

Doping was never really the issue. Look at Pantani, it's still possible, rightly or wrongly, to admire an athlete who doped.

Ben ignores the real issue with Lance: they bullying, intimidation and abuse of his power within the sport. The careers he destroyed simply because he disagreed with people (Le Mond, Andreu, Emma O'Reilly...). This is the real reason Lance should be vilified. The doping is a sideshow.

Clever move by Ben to promote the movie though, and I suspect the real motive for his comments - this remark just bought the film a ton of free advertising!

posted by giobox [357 posts]
6th June 2014 - 1:16

25 Likes

I wonder if the sponsors of the time which are on his kit and bike will object to this film as they now all want their money back or is it a case of some free advertising? There's not only the stench of doping but money, dirty money.

Airzound

posted by Airzound [863 posts]
6th June 2014 - 10:32

7 Likes

"Ben ignores the real issue with Lance: they bullying, intimidation and abuse of his power within the sport. The careers he destroyed simply because he disagreed with people (Le Mond, Andreu, Emma O'Reilly...). This is the real reason Lance should be vilified. The doping is a sideshow."

Spot on , took the words out of my mouth, so to speak. Its his vile contempt for the lives of other people that that got in his way or disagreed with him, and his abuse of his position of power to bully and threaten them make him beneath contempt for me.

posted by robgeje [7 posts]
6th June 2014 - 11:42

11 Likes

Yes he was a bully but the fact stands he was a phenomenal athlete , anyone on here who simply see his name and spouts off about the doping really need to look at themselves and think ..... "Do I still cheer on Contador,valverde, Rogers, Millar, schleck etc etc " if the answer is yes to any rider who has served a doping ban then you are highly hypocritical and in my eyes jumping on the let's hate LA bandwagon.

My opinion..... fantastic athlete at a time when the vast majority of top riders were doping but yes a control freak and bully

posted by chiv30 [997 posts]
6th June 2014 - 12:57

6 Likes

The problem with all the 'he was a phenomenal athlete, and everyone else was on drugs too' stuff is this: different people react to EPO differently, depending on their natural haematocrit levels. It can help some athletes much, much more than others. So there's no such thing as a level playing field if everyone is doping.

This point has been made a hundred times in the debates over Armstrong, but it remains true. Some people ignore it, but they are wrong to do so.

posted by HarrogateSpa [207 posts]
6th June 2014 - 21:58

12 Likes

HarrogateSpa wrote:

This point has been made a hundred times in the debates over Armstrong, but it remains true. Some people ignore it, but they are wrong to do so.

And most people ignore the fact that the entire peloton allowed this to happen. LA was just a slightly bigger fish in a small pond - vilifying him doesn't really serve a whole load of purpose to be honest, in fact it hides the true scale of the deceit - Lance wasn't the beginning or end of doping by any means but it makes a slightly better story than most because of the aura and persona that existed around it. He's far from the only rider to lie, cheat, bully, intimidate. The entire peloton, the doctors, team managers, sponsors were all doing exactly the same to one degree or another.

A few years ago, Cycling Weekly printed a frankly laughable editorial where they claimed they knew all about Lance all along but they couldn't publish because they'd be sued. So they rode the Lance bandwagon, devoting pages of copy to how wonderful he was - which naturally sold them loads of magazines. If true, even the media were in on it. If not true, they were just trying to cover their own arse for fawning all over Lance for the previous 7 years...

posted by crazy-legs [635 posts]
6th June 2014 - 22:08

3 Likes

crazy-legs wrote:
A few years ago, Cycling Weekly printed a frankly laughable editorial where they claimed they knew all about Lance all along but they couldn't publish because they'd be sued.

That's not laughable, it's pretty much what happened. Look at Lance vs The Sunday Times, Lance vs the LA Confidential book... Lance successfully sued for libel in all these cases, and it did have a chilling effect on sports journalists covering the Lance story.

Walsh explains this aspect of Lance's power pretty well in his books. This was much more of an issue in the UK and US legal systems. LA Confidential for example, was still able to be published in France. This is a big part of why UK cycling fans were so poorly informed about lance.

Lets face it, if the Sunday Times legal team, who have a great deal of libel litigation experience, couldn't successfully defend an honest article about Lance, what chance did small cycling publications have?

posted by giobox [357 posts]
6th June 2014 - 23:01

11 Likes

2nd rate actor in 'uses press controversy to stir up some hype about film no one wants to see shocker'..

Lance who f-in cares, starve him all oxygen of publicity.

posted by sq225917 [22 posts]
8th June 2014 - 9:50

1 Like