In Catch the Bullet, twenty-two-year-old, veteran actor Gattlin Griffith rides in on a horse – as the villain. Alongside stars like Tom Skerritt and Jay Pickett, Griffith and his younger brother Callder share the story of a U.S. Marshal Britt MacMasters (Pickett) who returns home to find his father (Skerritt) wounded and his young son kidnapped by the villainous Jed Blake. While westerns aren’t as prevalent as they once were, Gattlin shared about the joy of making the movie, and showing what he could do as an actor and a horseman.
“It was a really comfortable place for me, because I’ve grown up around horses and I’ve been riding since I could walk,” explained Griffith, whose father Tad has been in a stuntman on over one hundred films, and also directed live western shows in Fort Worth or Las Vegas. “So it was a lot of fun to have a project where my love of acting and my love of horses got to meet.”
“It’s dangerous having a stunt family and a big property! A lot of the stunts we weren’t supposed to do were performed out of sight of our mom and dad. But we have cows and we often would try to ride them when we were young, so you get your brother to put his hands down [like a ladder] and flip your other brother onto the cow. But it would only be a few seconds before our backs were on the ground.”
“We had ridden all the horses so it was time!”
Griffith says that most of his co-stars were older cowboys with decades of more experience than he did, so he took tips from them on what to do on set. But the lessons he learned from his parents involved a “submergence in the film business,” having watched his dad leave for months at a time and perform big stunts. At six or seven, he was already acting in films like Changeling, and he experienced life on set early on. And in terms of playing the villain…
“I was pretty competitive as a kid, so I was used to being the bad guy,” the actor shares, chuckling. “It was usually younger brothers against the older brother, and I didn’t take it easy on them.”
Growing out the beard for the film, Griffith realizes that the film allows him to show a different side of himself, than what people expected based on his child roles. Preparing to play the role of the outlaw, he says he analyzed and looked at what made Jed Blake the bad guy, a phrase he puts in air quotes, having totally accepted his character’s motivations. “His struggle is with the past, having regret, wanting vengeance for what happened before,” Griffith proposes. “He lacks the ability to overcome that and find peace in the here and now, that fuels his ambition to cause pain to others.”
So what has he taken away from the film? He’s still happy to be acting while atop a horse, but there are deeper lessons here, too.
“Westerns are great and we should make more of them,” Griffith says, “but we can’t hide from our past, and we should be honest with our families and not hide from them.”
Catch the Bullet is in theaters, On Demand, and digital on September 7, so tune in to see Griffith ride – and stay tuned to see what western he ends up starring in next.