‘At this point in my career, I love imperfections’, says Josh Duhamel of role in The Lost Husband

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Josh Duhamel is apologising profusely for being late for our phone call. He is out at his remote lake cabin and had lost track of time.

“I’m right out in the woods and it’s a great place to get away because I don’t have to worry about wearing a mask all day long,” he explains. “And there is a freedom about it out here that I really, really love and it’s hard to find if you’re in Los Angeles right now.”

The 47-year-old seems like a natural outdoorsman, happier out in the sticks than in the bustle of the city, and not unlike his character in his latest film. In romantic drama The Lost Husband he plays a gruff goat farm manager in Texas Hill Country, who ends up falling for a young widow (played by Leslie Bibb) who moves into town with her children.

The film is based on the book of the same name by bestselling author Katherine Center and offers a portrait of rural life that resonated with Duhamel, who is father to a seven-year-old son, Axl, by his ex-wife, singer Fergie.

“There was something simplistic about the story that I liked, I was in a certain place in my life at the time and it just felt like a fun getaway to go spend some time in the middle of Texas with my kid.

“Everything felt right about it, it just felt like a cathartic little project. We spent half the time in Austin and the other half in Round Top, which is pretty out there, and it really felt like it had the same vibe as the movie.

“So it wasn’t that difficult to slip into that world when you’re on set making the movie, it felt like you were already in it. I do like the idea of going on location somewhere that is going to be easy to continue to raise my boy while I’m doing it, rather than going into the Arctic to shoot a story about raising a pack of wolves or something.”

Instead of wolves he had a herd of goats to contend with, but ended up so fond of the animals that he is now thinking of getting his own. “I hadn’t had very much experience at all with goats, that was a new one for me,” he remembers with a laugh.

“I’ve milked cows in a movie before but that was the closest I’ve been. But goats are really mild mannered and good-natured animals and I kind of learned to fall in love with them. I would love to have a couple of goats as a pet because they are so sweet, they are not going to hurt you, they are good around kids, they are funny looking and fun.”

He pauses. “I’m not saying I’m going to run out and grab some goats right now but I wouldn’t be opposed to owning a couple at some point.”

He pauses again. “Actually the only place I could really keep them is out at my cabin in Minnesota, and I’m afraid the wolves would take them out in two days. They wouldn’t live very long out here.”

It’s a rather sobering thought, but Duhamel is matter-of-fact about it, much like his character O’Connell, whose brusque efficiency can sometimes be taken for rudeness. “I watched a movie called Hud back in the day, with Paul Newman in it, and he was so unapologetic that I loved that he just didn’t care, he wasn’t one of those guys who is amenable to people, based on what they need, he just is who he is and doesn’t make any apologies for it and that is kind of what I liked about this guy.”

Duhamel is instinctive about the roles he takes, whether it be in big-budget blockbusters like Transformers, rom-coms like Life As We Know It and New Year’s Eve, or dramas like the Nicholas Sparks adaptation Safe Haven.

“I guess I look for an authenticity about the character,” he says. “Too many times things are written to fit a plot and I feel like the characters need to dictate the plot. I love characters that are flawed, I have done enough movies where the characters are still a little bit too perfect and it always bugged me, but you’re starting out, you’ve got take what you can.

“But at this point in my career I love the imperfections of characters and trying to figure out their perspective on their world. If you’re playing a bad guy or a good guy or someone a little aloof, like this guy, there is a reason for it, and I like to figure out that reason.

“It’s fun to play these guys who are larger than life, but it’s hard to relate to that, and I think it’s hard for audiences to relate to that unless they just want pure escapism. If I’m going to compare something like Transformers to this, yes Transformers movies are fun to shoot, and you get to do all kinds of things and go to all kinds of cool places and play with all kinds of cool toys, but the character work in something like that is really tough, because there is really not time for it.

“It’s really about the action and the robots and you’re kind of a piece of a puzzle and you just have to fit in where you can. Something like this really allows the character to breathe and let moments happen, and that to me is what is really fun about what I get to do, it’s finding those moments and making it feel like real life.

“In a big movie like Transformers, oftentimes you don’t get those opportunities, at least I didn’t in them — as much fun as I had making them, it’s just a completely different game.”

Next up Duhamel faces an even bigger challenge, writing and directing his own film. “My favourite type of movie is ridiculous dude comedies,” he admits, “and I’ve got to do a few romantic comedies and things like that but never anything geared towards guys, so I wrote this movie because that is what I love to watch.

“It’s just about a bunch of guys who get together once a year for a weekend of games, it’s called Buddy Games and it’s been all consuming, but it’s been the biggest learning experience and the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done.” The Lost Husband is is available for digital download now.

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