Surveying his wish list of potential co-stars, acclaimed actor Ben Foster said that he's always wanted to work with Oscar-nominee Mark Wahlberg. But when Foster finally got his chance recently on the crime thriller "Contraband," he also found out that he'd have to roll with the punches in some pretty intense fight scenes with "The Fighter" star.

"Your scenes are lumped in with the stunt guys (standing in for you), but when it was just us, Mark is no joke," Foster told me in a recent interview. "He's a pretty solid fellow. I think I can hold my own, but that man is strong. Thankfully, there is a structure to fight scenes and the punches didn't actually connect -- but we still come off like we're fighting."

Apart from the heavy lifting, Foster couldn't have been more impressed with his co-star.

"He's one of the most stand-up, loyal, hard workers I've met," Foster said. "He's stayed true to his roots and is incredibly humble. I had a gas with him."

In "Contraband," new Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray (Universal Studios Home Entertainment), Wahlberg stars as Chris Farraday, a former smuggler-gone-legit who is forced back into the dangerous underworld when he needs to come up with cash to pay off a vicious drug lord (Giovanni Ribisi) after his brother-in-law (Caleb Landry Jones) botches a high-priced job.

Kate Beckinsale also stars as Chris' wife, Kate, and Foster stars in the pivotal role of Sebastian Abney, Chris' longtime friend who is caught in the middle of the dangerous operation.

An Actor's Appreciation
Of course, anytime an actor steps into the shoes of a character, they can experience any number of emotions, whether it be inspirational or just plain relief that they've never been in the same harrowing circumstances as their characters. Needless to say, Foster was thrilled to walk away from his work in "Contraband" knowing that he's not a part of that dangerous world, but can instead help portray it.

"Anybody who does what we do lives incredibly blessed lives," Foster said. "Coming off a job, just being employed is a blessing, especially in these times. Even though actors are freelancers, it's not hard walking away having a positive, grateful outlook. There are so many talented people out there who are not working right now, so I feel incredibly blessed."

Foster, who has starred in such hits as "3:10 to Yuma," "The Messenger" and "X-Men: The Last Stand," said the only thing better than the work itself is finding out that people related to it in some sort of way.

"If somebody can say something nice about what somebody does, that's a beautiful thing," Foster said. "If somebody sees your movie and they enjoyed it, or tell you that they felt like they knew that person, were that person or recognized something, then maybe, potentially, it feels a little less lonely for them out there in the big, bad world. I know movies that have done that for me in the past, so it's nice to know what we're doing is not a waste of time."

With any luck, Foster will be able to share more of his talent soon with "Gotti: The Shadow of My Father," which tells the true story of reputed mob boss John Gotti (John Travolta) and his son, John Gotti Jr. (Foster). The high-profile film, which also includes the likes of Al Pacino, Kelly Preston and director Barry Levinson, has hit some development snags and is currently stuck in pre-production.

"'Pre-production' is a very big word," Foster said with a laugh. "They're currently ironing out financing. We were in pre-production last fall, but there have been some changes of the guard, so hopefully we'll be getting back into in the New Year, but nothing is set in stone."
Whatever happens, Foster said, it can't happen soon enough.

"I would have great company, the subject matter is fascinating and I would love to work with Barry again," said Foster, who worked with Levinson previously on the 1999 coming-of-age drama "Liberty Heights."

Plus, Foster said he loves what will most certainly be served on the catering menu.

"It would allow me to eat some pasta, which is never a bad thing," Foster said with a laugh.