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Benjamin Walker sets sail in "In the Heart of the Sea'

Benjamin Walker as George Pollard in new film,

Benjamin Walker as George Pollard in new film, "In the Heart of the Sea." Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

In the film "In the Heart of the Sea," frequent Broadway star Benjamin Walker plays George Pollard, Jr., a captain who was set on a path to the sea by his family's roots from day one.

Proving himself as a captain to his family, as well as taking control of his ship, are arduous tasks in and of themselves, but then an enormous whale turns the story into a greater obstacle at sea for George and his men.

amNewYork spoke to Walker about the "Moby Dick"-inspired film, coming out Friday.

Did you know "Moby Dick" was inspired by a true story?

I had no idea, and I think a lot of people will have that experience when they go see it. "You mean to tell me there was a real whale?" It made it more potent and real, but what was exciting about it was I could do a bunch of research to learn about it.

Were you surprised by anything while researching the role?

If you've ever been to New England, the widow's walk, it's a little top of a balcony on these houses, where these wives would go up and look out onto the horizon, waiting for their husbands to come home. That little nugget of history can inform you so much of what that time was like. The influence that these whaling vessels had -- not only on an industry but an entire people.

How did you physically prep for those periods where you're stranded and gaunt?

That was not fun. They had us on this crash diet from day one. At first we were exercising every day, and dieting. Then there came a point where it became unsafe for us to exercise on top of the fact that we were eating something like 600 calories a day. That sounds horrible, and it wasn't pleasant, but it's still not a fraction of what the men who were there actually suffered.

Did you have any preconceived notions about director Ron Howard before working with him on this film?

I was surprised to see how nice he was. To be that successful and that prolific, he could very easily get away with being a jerk. He was really collaborative -- no idea is a bad idea. I don't think I saw him have a negative moment of energy or see him say anything unkind to a single person.


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