Bandit Star Josh Duhamel Says He Wanted to Make His Character as ‘Fun and Funny as Possible’

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In a whirlwind spree spanning 33 months, Gilbert Galvan committed 59 robberies. Sometimes he’d double up, doing two in a day. He’d go on to become the most daring if not fascinating criminal in Canadian history. It was only a matter of time before Hollywood noticed. And they did, thanks to Robert Knuckle’s book on Galvan (“The Flying Bandit”), which expertly captured the smooth, handsome, persuasive criminal.


After serving time in a Michigan prison for swindling Western Union offices, Galvan did the unthinkable: he escaped in 1984 and fled across the border. His notoriety escalated in 1987 when it was revealed he was the bandit behind heists in 14 Canadian cities — in every province except Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. He racked up $2.3 million during his three-year spree, a calculated endeavor that often found him flying into cities and then back home the same day to his pregnant wife, who apparently wasn’t clued in on her husband’s romps. She thought he was a traveling salesman.

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He was much more, though. A bona fide master of disguise. And that was one of the main reasons — along with screenwriter Kraig Wenman’s clever script — that Josh Duhamel (The Thing About Pam, Jupiter’s Legacy, Transformers) wanted to star in Bandit, the film based on Knuckle’s book.

“I thought I would have a lot of fun getting into all these different getups and not really knowing how I’d feel when I was in disguise,” Duhamel said. “I’ve never really done anything like that, where I pretend to be all these different people. And it’s funny what happens when you have a wear a big or different nose than you used to having, or a wig, mustache, or whatever it is. Something takes over. A different person comes out of you in a weird way. You start feeling like, ‘Oh, this is what the character would sound like.’

“That was part of the fun of the movie,” he added. “Not really knowing how I was going to play these characters until I got into the full costume.”


On Making Bandit as Inventive as Possible

Bandit also stars Elisha Cuthbert (Happy Endings, The Ranch), Nestor Carbonell (The Morning Show, Bates Motel), and Mel Gibson (Father Stu, Lethal Weapon). In the hands of director Allan Ungar (Uncharted, Gridlocked), no doubt audiences will be charmed by Duhamel’s take on the Canadian criminal — there’s never been a shortage of charm when it comes to Duhamel.

Cuthbert plays Andrea in Bandit, Gilbert Galvan’s love interest. Carbonell takes on the ruthless detective who’ll stop at nothing to bring Galvan in. Coming along for the cinematic joyride is Mel Gibson as Tommy Kay, the loan shark/gangster Galvan turns to.

“We wanted this to be a thriller and have some aspects of a heist movie,” Duhamel said. “But I also felt with this character — and the whole story — that there was so much comedy to be had in the way Allan did this. And the circumstances Gilbert found himself in to feel that this [robbery] was his only option. What does the guy do when his back is against the wall? Well, I guess he goes to acting school for special effects and learns how to make fake noses. I mean, this guy literally went and became an expert at disguising himself. To me, that was an opportunity to make it as fun and funny as possible.”

Cuthbert said she was immediately taken by the script.

“I was so intrigued that this heist movie had a love story interconnected,” she shared. “I hope people walk away seeing how these two people met and the chaos that ensues in Gilbert’s lifestyle. I remember speaking with Josh and saying the film is a lot of fun, but that the whole way through I was going to focus on our chemistry and make sure we conveyed the film was also a love story between two people. And he was like, ‘Absolutely!’”

The actress and Duhamel create remarkable on-screen chemistry. The script may be breezy, and things move fast, but the director and his actors manage to also capture some depth throughout Bandit.

“Josh makes it so easy,” Cuthbert added. “We got to set and it was a lot of fun.”

Actually, the two had known each other for many years.

“Elisha is just such an easy person to hang out with — truly,” Duhamel said. “And I’m not even saying that just because she’s sitting next to me. We had rapport from the very beginning, and I wanted to work with that.”

He recalled one scene where his character was in disguise—this time in a fireman’s suit. “It was about 99 degrees in Thomasville, Georgia, and I come out of this bank wearing that suit, pretending to be a firefighter. It’s hot. I’m sweating. It was just disgusting, really. And Elisha has to pretend she’s all hot for me. And that’s the big kiss we have in the film. So, we kiss and they say ‘cut.’ Then I look over and I see her look at the makeup girl and go, ‘ugh.’ And I’m like, ‘Did you just gag?’”

He laughed. “I never felt less sexy in my whole life.”

“I’d never gag because of you,” Cuthbert responded. “To my defense, I was five weeks pregnant—for real—and had the worst morning sickness of my life. I was sweating. The gag was morning sickness.”

Duhamel smiled.

Yep. Their onscreen chemistry is reflective of their real-life friendship.

Related: Bandit Review: Josh Duhamel Charms as Clever Bank Robber

Making Bandit Believable

Ungar received the Bandit script five years ago. He’d been at the early stage of his career at that point and after reading countless scripts, wondered all too often what he thought people wanted him to direct—he’d go on to bring Uncharted, starring Tom Holland, to the screen. Bandit thoroughly surprised him. After reading the script, he immediately called his agent. He had to do the film, perhaps inspired by all the crime dramas and heist films he saw as a kid.

Many of those seminal films, in fact, are now considered classics. But in Ungar’s eye, they all employed an inherent and organic ability to wow audiences in ways that were both thrilling and entertaining — whether there was action, drama, or romance involved.

Bottom line: Those kinds of films were relatable.

“I want people to walk away from Bandit having an appreciation for the performances,” Ungar said. “I think the cast is just at the top of their game. Ultimately, because truth is stranger than fiction, there’s been moments when people are like, ‘There’s just no way this happened.’ So, I’d love people to also have an appreciation for how Gilbert was able to pull all that [the robberies] off. I’m obviously not trying to glamorize crime or anything, but then, you got to respect it.”

Carbonell agreed, pointing out Ungar’s exceptional directing.

“Allan is an incredible man,” he said. “He did the impossible — shooting the film in 21 days with 200 scenes. That’s insane. And in the middle of Georgia, doubling for Canada. Aside from the incredible performances Allan pulled out of everyone, there was something about honoring this incredible story that is a character-driven piece. Studios are not making these films anymore. In the wrong hands, the film would have been very different.”

Carbonell was in Pensacola, Florida, when he was offered the part and word that shooting would begin in just three days’ time. He quickly rearranged his schedule and leapt in.

“I started doing all my homework overnight,” he said. “One of the biggest appeals for me was Kraig Wenman’s script, which is rife with great humor. And then to add Allan, who’s creating an environment where we could riff. And people like Josh and Mel Gibson. These guys are very funny, very quick. It allowed for us to really play and find the humor that balanced all the tension underneath.”

Bandit hits theaters and on demand on September 23, 2022, from Quiver Distribution.

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