Chances are if you know Ben Foster by name, it's because his characters – and indeed, his performances – are almost unforgettable: Spacker Dave, a pierced and perforated neighbor to Frank Castle, a/k/a The Punisher; Mars Krupcheck, a homicidal teenage home invader in Hostage; Russell Corwin, a troubled artist on Six Feet Under; Jake Mazursky, a fearless, mercurial older brother looking for his sibling in Alpha Dog; and Charlie Prince, a sociopathic bounty hunter in 3:10 to Yuma. Add another role to that growing list: The Messenger's Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery, a soldier assigned to notify parents and loved ones that their sons, daughters, husbands and wives were killed in the line of duty.

Foster gives the performance of an already-impressive career as the tortured young soldier, turning his own tightly-wound on screen persona into a portrait of a man trying to come to terms with his own life through announcing the deaths of others. Cinematical recently spoke to Foster via telephone about Montgomery and his participation in The Messenger; in addition to talking about his collaboration with fellow cast and crew members, Foster reflected on the kinds of roles he tends to tackle, and talked about the process of creating such memorable performances in one film after another.

Cinematical: Where did you see this guy at the beginning of the movie, and where did you want him to sort of end up?