Actor and avid hockey player Taylor Kitsch still hasn't gotten over getting robbed in the 2017 NHL All-Star Game back in January. It's kind of hard to forget when the masked villain was James Badge Dale, his co-star in the upcoming film "Only the Brave."
It was all in good fun, of course. The two talk about the experience of playing with a bunch of Hall of Fame hockey players with laughter and awe of the talent around them, bonded from their time on the ice together and from filming their latest movie set for release in theaters Friday, Oct. 20.
"Only the Brave" is based on the true story of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite group of firefighters, who died during the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona in 2013. Their preparation for the film included two weeks of grueling Hotshots training before four months of filming in hot dusty conditions.
"They kicked our butt," Dale told NHL.com "They wanted to give us a taste of what they do. They give you a taste of that and then it becomes apparent that, 'Oh, we can't do that.' We gave it our all."
The story focuses on the brotherhood of the Hotshots, and Kitsch and Dale spent much of their youth building camaraderie on the ice. Kitsch, from Kelowna, British Columbia, played junior hockey until an injury ended his career. Dale, before roles in acclaimed projects like "The Departed" and the HBO mini-series "The Pacific," was a goalie for Manhattanville College in New York City.
Kitsch, who earned fame portraying football player Tim Riggins on the TV show "Friday Night Lights," still plays hockey regularly. He even brought his equipment to New Mexico while they were filming and dropped in on a men's league once a week in Santa Fe. Dale, however, hadn't played in years before the celebrity game at Staples Center in Los Angeles. He had to wipe the rust off his skates and exhume his old equipment.
"He was sending me great photos of his shed where his gear was and he was dusting it off before the game and I was like, 'This is too good.' I wanted him to start so I could light him up," Kitsch told NHL.com. "He posted basically a shutout with a breakaway shootout goal from one of the most prolific scorers of all time."
Dale, in his Chris Osgood-style helmet and cage, allowed only one goal, and it was to Teemu Selanne.
"I came out of retirement for that," Dale said with a laugh. "I mean, I've putting my head in front of moving objects since I was a child, but I had hung it up."
Kitsch idolized Steve Yzerman and the Red Wings in his youth, and enjoys watching Yzerman's Lightning these days. Dale is a native New Yorker and devoted Rangers fan.
Though their hockey careers are long behind them, both still find ways to draw from their experiences for roles and their latest project was just another example.
"It is a collective and you do have to rely on your guy next to you," Kitsch said. "In that sense it's incredibly relatable, although the stakes are obviously way higher for them. But that alliance, that trust you have to have, that's everything.