Koz star Taylor Kitsch discusses the Audible Original podcast, his love for true stories, why he was hesitant to star in a podcast, and more.
Taylor Kitsch is back in the true story realm with Koz. The Audible Original podcast tells the story of Darrin “Koz” Kozlowski, an agent in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms who spent two decades infiltrating some of the most ruthless biker gangs across the country.
Kitsch stars in Koz in the titular role alongside Xander Berkeley, Kate Mara and Chris Diamantopoulos. The Audible Original blends interviews with the real-life Kozlowski and dramatized reenactments of his attempts to infiltrate the Sangres club.
Ahead of the Audible Original’s premiere, Screen Rant spoke exclusively with executive producer/star Taylor Kitsch to discuss Koz, why he was hesitant to join other podcasts, his newfound love for voiceover work, John Carter’s cult following, and more.
Screen Rant: I was listening to Koz earlier, and I’m hooked. I’ve loved the trend of scripted podcasts that have been coming out over the past couple of years. What was it about Koz that really caught your interest to want to be a part of it?
Taylor Kitsch: I’ve been asked to do a bunch, and then one of my best friends who produced it came to me, and he’s like, “I probably know the answer. Will you come on board and do this with me?” He sent it over, and then I started hearing the real Koz, I was like, “Give me some of his tapes,” because he had God knows how many hours of interviews, and I’m like, “F–k, man, we can have fun with it.” It’s a really cool story, he’s done three motorcycle gangs he’s infiltrated, literally no ATF agent, no one’s done that before, so that was really cool. I always gravitate towards true stories, so it was kind of a no-brainer.
Yeah, it’s really quite an interesting story. I love the line that you have near the start about how much is real and how much isn’t. What was it like finding your own voice for Koz for this?
Taylor Kitsch: Yeah, good question. I think when you, at least for me, when I listen to these things — I used to take myself incredibly seriously. I think when you’re storytelling, if you feel that we’re kind of having fun when the time allows, it makes it more engaging, so I wanted to do that. You’re serving someone who’s obviously served and lived and has his story, so you can’t f–k with that.
But it’s more like, I don’t know, you want it entertaining as well. There is levity in these moments that can, I don’t know, make you more engaged, if you will. Even that line that you just mentioned, I was like, “Let me just go on a tangent. I want you to meet this guy, and not just this guy who’s undercover.” Those moments are there, right? So it’s like, adding this color is kind of my job, otherwise, it just becomes f—-ng exposition and who wants to listen to that.
For that, you might as well just go to a true-crime podcast instead of a show like this.
Taylor Kitsch: I mean, they’re cool, but f–k me can they be mundane. [Laughs] At least for me, you know?
That’s why I’ve liked hearing podcasts like Koz come around of late, because then it gives some entertainment to that audio sphere.
Taylor Kitsch: Yeah, and there’s an energy and I think it honestly paints [a picture]. The beauty of podcasts is your mind is going to create this, as well, I’m talking you through it. I think that’s where everybody’s gonna picture a different bar, a different type of motorcycle, a different apartment that he lives, even his f—-ng hamster. [Chuckles] Those kinds of moments are actually pretty cool, and you figure that out.
I know you’ve done voice work, and you’ve done very CGI-heavy projects, but this is really your first big dive into a field where you have to come up with the visuals in your mind. What was that like for you going into the booth and finding a way to visualize this whole story?
Taylor Kitsch: I love it, man. We have a great team, it was well-written, most importantly. Sometimes it’s like, I hate exposition as an actor, I don’t serve that well. I’d say Mark Strong is one of the best to do it, he’s also one of the best out there working, but it’s like that guy you can listen do the phonebook. For me, I don’t know, you don’t want to go on this page-long diatribe of just painting a picture. That was a big thing for us once we started, like, it’s 8 in the morning, and you’re like, “Guys, I don’t want to start with your page-long description of a shed. Let’s get into something a bit more engaging. I get it, you got to do it. But, I don’t know, that kind of stuff I leave more up to you guys.”
You made it work really well within this podcast. With audio recordings, you can sometimes have the group of actors recorded together. But during the pandemic, a lot of that went away. Did you get the opportunity to work alongside any of your other actors?
Taylor Kitsch: Not a one time. We had an ongoing joke of one of the PAs was kind of everybody for me. We did bring in a couple times, an actor was there, you know how actors will come in and do table reads and whatnot. Some of those guys, and that helped, but it can slow the process down quite a bit, where you got some of these actors that are just in Hero Mode, and they’re just going f—-ng all out and kind of take you out of it. So I don’t know, I just had more fun with the PA, I mean, [Kate] Mara would have been great, because that relationship’s obviously really important, but it just couldn’t work out.
That’s a shame, but hopefully you get that chance on something else in the future then.
Taylor Kitsch: Yeah, exactly.
Now that you’ve properly explored this field, do you find yourself interested in revisiting voiceover work in the future?
Taylor Kitsch: I love it, man. I mean, I did a bunch for the NHL, done a bunch for RAM, some other animated stuff, but it’s a lot of fun. If you got a good team, and it’s well-written, I’m all for it, and you’re serving a story that’s worth telling, for sure.
You can read the full interview on Screen Rant’s website.
EXCLUSIVE: Taylor Kitsch and Kate Mara are among the cast of a new scripted biker gang audio series.
The Waco star and House of Cards star are lending their voices to Koz, a scripted podcast series that tells the true story of Special Agent Darrin Kozlowski, who spent two decades climbing the ranks of the most ruthless biker gangs in America, all while working undercover for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The series, which launches on September 15, has been ordered by Audible as part of a multi-project slate deal with podcast studio At Will Media.
Koz uses a mix of interviews with the real-life Darrin “Koz” Kozlowski and dramatized reenactments. Xander Berkeley (The Walking Dead) and Chris Diamantopoulos (Silicon Valley) also star in the series, which was written by Rob Fresco (Ray Donovan), directed by Scott Ellis (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), and executive produced by At Will Media’s Will Malnati, Kitsch and Fresco.
It is the latest project between At Will Media and Audible following scripted series Sorry Charlie Miller, which launched last year with a cast of Zachary Quinto, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Michelle Buteau and Ashley Benson, and singing competition series Breakthrough from The Chainsmokers, which is currently in development.
Two additional projects are also in development – scripted thriller Possession and Untitled News Trivia Show.
The former follows a young couple, forced out of their home by a stranger claiming it as his own, who struggle against arcane, Kafkaesque adverse possession charges in a desperate bid to take back their property. Equal parts ghost-story and home-invasion thriller, Possession is a nine-part mystery, written by Matthew Derby (Phreaks) and Brianna Holt, that explores the intersection of class, race, and a housing crisis ready to explode.
The latter is a fun dive into the week’s news that invites listeners to test their wits against journalists and comedians who are muddling through – just like the rest of us – the onslaught of information and screaming headlines.
UTA brokered the deal between At Will Media and Audible.
“At Audible we strive to create genre and format bending content; breaking the existing templates to develop truly creative projects that tell stories in new and often experimental ways. We are excited to have joined forces with At Will Media to bring such a varied slate of new projects to our listeners,” said Pat Shah, Head of Content Acquisition & Development, Audible. “Their creativity knows no bounds and we are excited to bring such imaginative and unique audio storytelling to our listeners. From a never-been-done-before singing competition show to a unique drama series that innovatively mixes actors’ portrayals with real interviews; from comedy to drama and thriller to competition, listeners will be delighted by everything we have to come.”
At Will Media founder and CEO Will Malnati added, “We are so excited to link arms with Audible on this exciting new collaboration. Their successful track record of creating ambitious content of the highest quality and their commitment to giving creators the ability to create couldn’t be more aligned with our philosophy at At Will Media.”
For two decades, he’s chugged along in the Hollywood game by flat out refusing to play it. He was busy searching for something else.
Taylor Kitsch has been following a white wolf for five miles through the Montana wilderness, not far from his home in Bozeman. Up the hills, around to the drainage they go. He knows she’s nearby, but not this close—just off the other side of the tree he’s crouching next to. She is right there, all 150-some-pounds of her.
They lock eyes. Five seconds. Seven seconds. A long fucking time. He’s not scared. He’s euphoric. He wants one click of the frame. He pleads with her to stay. “Listen,” he coos, “I just want to take your picture.
“You’re fucking beautiful.”
She doesn’t listen and turns back up the mountain. Gone. For now. But he sees her again. He heads out howling for her less than twenty-four hours later and finds her not far from here. This time, he’s fast enough with the phone’s camera.
Three weeks later and a thousand miles away, Kitsch is showing me the video of their second run in. “Man, we can talk this shit all day,” he says. The problem is—as I watch her hind legs scatter out of frame, quizzing him about the size of a wolf’s home and how they hunt—Kitsch is not talking about himself, which is why I’m here.
Unless he is talking about himself.
For a guy who’s worked as long as Kitsch—that’d be two decades—you’ll find relatively few interviews with him on the internet. Up until a few months ago, he didn’t even have someone handling press for him. “We’re fighting for Playgirl,” Kitsch, forty-one, jokes when I ask what we should expect from his new publicist. “Right now, it’s between me and twenty other guys.” Instead, he has chugged along in the Hollywood game by flat out refusing to play it. But he’s got some big projects coming—The Terminal List on Amazon, out now; Painkiller on Netflix, later—so here we are in the restaurant of Casa del Mar hotel in Santa Monica looking at pictures of wolves, which make up what feels like a sizable portion of his iPhone photo library.
He’s got no clue what time it is, but he is hungry. He was in Monte Carlo all weekend doing promo and flew thirteen hours yesterday. He can’t believe I didn’t choose to meet in Montana instead. “Why wouldn’t you go to fucking Bozeman?” he asks. Why wouldn’t I? Scheduling, of course. So rather than see the new property that he just bought way out of town, where he wants to build a nonprofit, maybe an addiction center, we’re sitting over a table littered with a chicken club sandwich and salad (for him), a burger and fries (for me), and bottomless mugs of coffee with oat milk (for both of us).
The wall of windows just a few tables away, looking right out over the beach, assaults us with views of sun, sand, and ruffling palm-tree leaves. It’s late June and exactly the sort of day that people who love Los Angeles think no visitor could refuse. “I’ve hated this place a long time,” he says, almost amused and squinting in the glare.
Born in Kelowna, British Columbia, Kitsch grew up in a trailer with his mom and two older brothers. Dad left when he was one. Eventually two much younger half-sisters joined. He played lots of hockey, until his knee got busted. Twice.
In 2002, at the encouragement of a modeling scout, he moved to New York. He booked jobs with brands like Abercrombie & Fitch and Diesel, and it went well until it didn’t. Out of work, he bounced between the couches of friends and the floors of New York City subways. With a run of acting classes under his belt, he went west and spent four months living out of his car in Los Angeles, working as a personal trainer between auditions for gigs he pretty much never got. He hauled his way back to Canada with little to show for how much that last stretch sucked. But Kitsch is not a quitter. He kept sending in tapes and small roles finally came. The Covenant. Snakes on a Plane. John Tucker Must Die. His big break arrived when Peter Berg cast him as Dillon Panthers fullback Tim Riggins on NBC’s Friday Night Lights.
He and Berg kept working together—on Battleship (2012) and Lone Survivor (2013), both for the big screen. (They team up again for Painkiller, out late 2022 or early 2023, and they’ve got something on tap about the American West’s violent beginning if a platform will bite.) “We love pushing each other,” Kitsch says of their partnership.
Head to Esquire to read the rest of the article!
Photoshoots/Outtakes > Esquire 2022
The gallery has been updated with Taylor’s most recent public appearances, as well as a poster and a new episode still from The Terminal List. We will also be adding screen captures from the series soon.
Public Appearances > 2022 > June 18: 61st Monte Carlo TV Festival – “The Terminal List” Photocall
Public Appearances > 2022 > June 18: 61st Monte Carlo TV Festival Party
Public Appearances > 2022 > June 22: “The Terminal List” Los Angeles Premiere
Movies/TV Shows and Other Projects > The Terminal List (2022) > Season 1 > Posters
Movies/TV Shows and Other Projects > The Terminal List (2022) > Season 1 > Episode Stills
Taylor sat down with James Cordon and his “The Terminal List” co-star Chris Pratt to talk about the series last night.
The series premieres July 1st on Prime Video!