After 7 1/2 days of walking across Illinois to prepare for a movie role, Burt Culver wasn’t ready to stop.
“I kind of wish we were shooting today. I’m kind of in that zone,” the 36-year-old actor said Monday morning in Rock Island.
In preparation for his lead role in the movie “To Survive,” Culver took it upon himself to re-create the trek made by the movie’s main character, a man who has lost his wife and family and walks from Gary, Ind., to Iowa after the apocalypse.
“I was surprised that some parts of Illinois looked post-apocalyptic already,” he said. “Abandoned buildings, abandoned railways.”
During his approximately 200-mile-long walk, Culver said he gained insight into the character.
“He’d lost his entire family, society has collapsed. He has no reason, really, to keep going, but he does,” Culver said. “Part of this journey for me was to find out why he really keeps going.”
Very few aspects of the trip did not go according to plan, Culver said. Although his original itinerary called for him to camp a few nights, he was able to stay in motels. It meant 15 fewer pounds on his backpack and less stress on his body, he said.
Culver carried a smartphone with him for its GPS feature, but he did not plan on 103-degree heat, or unexpected rainfall and lightning. He also did not imagine the number of blisters he would have on his feet.
Staying in motels gave him a good night’s sleep and a shower, but he let his beard and fingernails grow.
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Once his made it to Peru, Ill., Culver knew he was halfway to Iowa, which made the rest of the trip easier. On his best day, he logged 34 miles before reaching Bureau County.
After stopping at the former Memorial Christian Church in downtown Rock Island, where he was driven by filmmaker Stephen Folker to accommodate a live TV shot, Culver crossed the Centennial Bridge at about 11:45 a.m.
The church, which was vacated in 2006, will serve as one of the locales for filming, Folker said. It will represent a small, abandoned country church where a struggling family lives.
“He’s a loner, so he has to decide if he travels alone or if he goes out of his comfort zone to help somebody else,” Culver said of his character.
Shooting will begin Sunday and is scheduled for 1 1/2 to two weeks in and around the Quad-Cities.
Culver said the experience of walking across Illinois provided the enlightenment for the role that he was hoping to get.
“To do a role that you’re not used to doing, or something that’s out of your zone, you have to find parts of yourself you don’t normally deal with,” the Seattle native said.
Culver’s willingness to put himself in the role impressed Folker.
“That goes a long way in my book. It’s so hard to find good, quality actors,” he said.
Folker said there are two types of actors. One goes into theater or movies looking for fame or glory.
“Then there’s people like Burt who are looking for the love of the craft of acting,” he said. “That’s the right reason to do it.”