Lucas Black on Golf, God, and 'Utopia'
Lucas Black once turned down a movie role because the director wanted him to drop his thick Southern accent—he grew up in Alabama—and use a less distinctive dialect. This is a self-described "country boy" who not only sticks to his drawl, but to his principles.
Black, 28, grew up in the Southern Baptist Church, and takes his faith seriously. Which is why he's attracted to movies like Seven Days in Utopia, which opens in theaters nationwide tomorrow.
Based on the Zondervan book of the same title, Utopia stars Black as Luke Chisolm, a young golf pro with a hot game and a hotter temper. When Luke's anger leads to a meltdown in a tournament, he drives off in a huff and ends up running off the road in the small town of Utopia, where he meets an old cowboy played by Robert Duvall. Duvall's character, who happens to be a former golf pro, takes Luke under his wing and teaches him a thing or two about the game—and about life.
It is Black's third film with Duvall—he had a role in 1996's Sling Blade, but more recently, has starred opposite the Academy Award winner in 2010's excellent Get Low and now in Utopia. The young actor couldn't resist this last role, not only for the chance to work with Duvall again, but because of his prowess for golf—he shoots in the low 70s and hopes to play professionally some day—and because of the movie's faith-based themes. It was, for Black, a perfect fit.
Why did you want to do this movie?
I'm an avid golfer, first of all. When I'm not acting, I'm playing golf. I'm pretty passionate about it. I've been playing in amateur tournaments for the past five years. Also, I read the book about three years before they wrote the script, and I fell in love with the story and thought it was a great message. Then, when I read the movie script, I called David Cook and told him I wanted to be a part of it.
I read a story where your teaching pro said you needed to get your emotions under control on the golf course. I thought sounded like your character in this movie. So, do you have a hot temper on the course?
No. I think what he was referring to is that I get amped up to play a golf tournament like I used to get amped up to play a football game. And when you get that amped up and anxious, sometimes your heart rate gets up and it affects your execution of golf shots. That's what he was talking about. I've never been one to throw clubs, break clubs, or use bad language on the golf course. I've played with golfers who've done that, and I really hate to see it. If I did something like that, my dad would come get the putter and hit me upside the head with it. I knew better.
Any thoughts about playing pro golf?
Yeah, I have aspirations to try and compete professionally. Any golfer that competes in tournaments would be lying if they said they didn't. Hopefully, if I keep getting better, I'd be able to one day qualify [for the pro tour]. We'll see.
How would you describe Luke in this film?
Luke's a character who has lost his way. He's got his priorities mixed up. I think all of us in life can be guilty of that; I know I can. I am. No matter what we're trying to accomplish in life, or what career path we're trying to take, sometimes we get caught up and lose perspective on what's important in life. I think that's the way Luke is. And then he ends up in this little town, Utopia, and meets a guy that has a lot of wisdom, and he becomes Luke's mentor. And he ends up changing Luke's life by leading him by example and teaching him different lessons about life and golf.