From humble Texas beginnings as Tim Riggins in Friday Night Lights to his upcoming transformation as cult leader David Koresh in Waco, Taylor Kitsch continues to quietly surprise audiences with his dramatic performances in high-action dramas and thrillers. As well as acting, Kitsch currently has the title Pieces in production, in which he’s a triple threat (Writer, Director and Actor) showing the actor isn’t a one-trick pony.

In his latest film Only The Brave, Kitsch plays Chris “Mack” MacKenzie, one of the heroic Granite Mountain Hotshot crew members who battled the devastating Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona, 2013. The film excels in retelling the real-life relationships, struggles and successes of the men who made up the firefighting crew. Alongside an incredible cast of Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges and James Badge Dale, Kitsch’s performance shines best when building the banter and brotherly dynamic with Teller’s character, Brendan.

His long-time collaborations with director Peter Berg have resulted in some incredible performances over the years (notably Friday Night Lights and the gritty Lone Survivor), bringing to his roles an ‘all-American’ bravado that disguises a softer, more sentimental sense of brotherhood. His performance in Joseph Kosinski’s Only The Brave is no different – Kitsch recalls to Vanity Fair the importance of bonding with his co-stars, and Josh Brolin stated Taylor was an “enormous influence” on his performance.

The chemistry with his co-stars is what makes Kitsch’s dramatic roles so watchable. Be it adding southern charm (despite being a Canadian native), brash brotherly banter or confiding in other characters for more tender moments, you can’t look away. True Detective Season 2 was another gritty role for Kitsch to sink his teeth in to, and offered a subtler hero than his action-packed alter-egos on screen. His character Detective Woodrugh is trying to do right by his family, while also living a lie about his sexuality – it’s a vulnerable and complex role which Kitsch pulls off with aplomb, and his scenes with Colin Farrell are testament to the chemistry he can evoke with his fellow actors.

This rapport with his co-stars could not be more evident in Only The Brave, and was so important when telling the true story of the incredibly courageous men who made up the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Of the cast’s training and physical preparation for the role he recently told Vanity Fair:

“I didn’t even know what a hotshot was… The beauty of this job is you get to really envelop yourself in these kind of beats.

Long hikes, 50-pound backpacks… You’re carrying the fuel and the chainsaws. It really is an artform to fight these fires.”

Kitsch, along with his co-stars, spent time with the families and partners of those that died in the Yarnell Hill fire, finding it incredibly important in translating the true story to the big screen. Their contributions to the story are clearly evident as the events unfold, with the film exploring the community spirit and brotherhood more than first expected.

Only The Brave hits UK cinemas on November 10th

By Michael Dickinson

Michael is the VultureHound Film Editor.