Cannes: Josh Duhamel on Playing a Career Criminal in ‘Bandit,’ ‘Jupiter’s Legacy’ Cancellation

Josh Duhamel has had a whirlwind first half of 2021.

At the top of the year, he flew to the Dominican Republic to star opposite Jennifer Lopez in Lionsgate’s Shotgun Wedding, replacing Armie Hammer in the 11th hour after Hammer left to project following allegations of sexual misconduct. He then released Netflix’s splashy Mark Millar adaptation Jupiter’s Legacy, which was not renewed for a second season despite being atop Nielsen’s streaming chart and in Netflix’s own Top 10 chart.

Now, after barreling through a high-concept studio action rom-com and the debut of a superhero series, he is currently in Georgia shooting a project with an independent spirit: Bandit.

Bandit, which is being sold internationally by Highland Film Group at the virtual Cannes market, tells the true story of Gilbert Galvin (aka The Flying Bandit) who in the late 1980s planned more than 63 bank and jewelry heists in Canada, all while leading a double life with a wife and a fake job as a traveling security consultant. Mel Gibson, Elisha Cuthbert and Nestor Carbonell also star.

Speaking on his day off from Bandit‘s tight shooting schedule, Duhamel talks about what attracted him to Galvin, ’80s sweaters and the Jupiter’s Legacy cancellation: “It’s pretty disappointing, I’m not going to lie.”

What made you sign on to Bandit?
I read this script and love this story. I got to talk a little bit with Gilbert Galvin, the man himself. The balls that this guy had to do what he did back in the late 80s. Obviously, security back then was much less rigid than it is now, but I loved the bravado of this dude. He figured out how to disguise himself, figured out which place was vulnerable, how he could get in and out quickly and how he could quick-change out of these crazy disguises in such a short amount of time. He would have a turtleneck and a jacket on and he’d cut the turtleneck down the side so he could tear off the jacket, tear off the turtleneck and the pants were tear-aways and he was wearing a three-piece suit underneath it all. And then sometimes he would go back to [the crime scene] to ask the cops, “Hey, what’s going on here?”

Given that you are playing a real person, how was preparing for this project different from others?
Prep on everything is a little bit different. On this one, because I was playing a real guy, I had the opportunity to pick his brain. What was he feeling the first time he did it? What was your heart rate? Was it a thrill or was it pure terror? He’s not a well-known guy so I am trying to make him as accurate as I can, but I’m also trying to fictionalize him in a way that embodies the spirit of what he did and why he did it rather than trying to emulate him perfectly.

In the beginning, [the robberies] were purely out of desperation because he was broke. And then it became like this thrill that he became addicted to. And the problem is he went through the money almost as fast as he got it. So, even though he stole $2.4 million, he still ended up broke in the end. The one thing that so many of these stories really boil down to is wanting to be loved and wanting that family. That’s really what drove him.

The movie is set in the late 1980s. How has it been inhabiting that time period?
You should have seen the sweater I had on yesterday, oh my god. I walked into the trailer and my girlfriend was there and she just started laughing because I looked like something out of Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It was this lavender-looking thing. The clothing was wonderfully awful.

Hollywood has a long history of heist movies. Did you watch any before heading to set?
I am a huge fan of Catch Me If You Can and Heist — the one with Robert De Niro. There is such a long history. But the thing I’ve been doing as an actor over the last several projects is I don’t go out there with anything sort of pre-planned. Because you never really know what’s going to happen and every time you try to plan something, it doesn’t go that way. The set is different. The actor you are playing opposite of isn’t doing what you expect them to do. So it’s so much more fun to just sort of go in there with a bag of tools or a bag of ideas and pull from that as you go.

How was it to join Shotgun Wedding so close to production beginning? Are there advantages to that?
Of course, I always do the work and I know where I am in each scene. But within any scene, so many things can happen that you don’t even see coming. If you just embrace the unexpected, it keeps you wide open to anything. What has really helped me as an actor is not being so afraid anymore. I used to be so afraid that I would fuck it up. If I mess up a line, I’m going to screw up the whole thing. Now, I don’t care if I screw a line up. I’ll come back and I’ll do it better the next time. I’ve found that it really helps make the scene come alive. And J-Lo was awesome and fully embraced it. We obviously rehearsed but then I just liked to try stuff in the moment and see what happens. If I’m having fun, the audience is having fun. For me, when I’m watching something, I can tell when it was pre-rehearsed. I love Jack Nicholson, especially in the 70s, because you can just tell that dude went in and just let it rip. You didn’t know what he was going to do. And that’s really what I’m trying to do in my work now.

Your most recent project Jupiter’s Legacy isn’t getting a second season but has become one of the most-watched streaming shows of the year. How has it been watching it be embraced by audiences but know that there won’t be more of it?
Well, it’s pretty disappointing, I’m not going to lie. We all worked really hard on it, we’re proud of it and we loved it. Then the audiences have really, really loved it. It’s been a success by every metric I thought it would be, but apparently it’s not enough. It’s a weird thing, it really is, because we all thought that the second season was going to be so much fun. And you could see it start to happen at the end of the first season and the stuff that happens, especially to my character in that second season, would have been awesome. But it was an expensive show and the new leadership at Netflix, I’m not sure they ever really embraced it.

I want to pitch an idea to them to just do a feature, telling the story of that second season. We can just do a movie and then I think that would satisfy what the audience really wanted to see in that second season. So, we’ll see. I’m grateful for the opportunity. I’m grateful to Netflix for giving me a chance to play it up because I got to do a lot of fun stuff in that show and do a lot of things I hadn’t done. For that, I’m grateful. I don’t have any hard feelings. It sucks and it hurts and it’s disappointing; but at the same time, that’s what this business is. It’s ups and downs.

Is there any type of project that you haven’t gotten to do yet that you are hoping to try?
I really want to do more directing and just keep finding projects as an actor that let me do things that I never thought I could do. Jupiter’s Legacy was one of those. I got to do some stuff in that which was beyond anything that anybody had given me a chance to do before. It was a long journey, but it was all about the final product. None of these things are easy to make. Every single project — even the one I’m on now — is a challenge every single day. But when you’re done with it, it’s such a feeling of accomplishment because so many people have to come together in every single department to work towards one thing. The hope is that you’re making something great. Nobody sets out to do anything other than that.

Read the full story on The Hollywood Reporter.