Even if Taylor Kitsch hadn't starred as dreamboat running back Tim Riggins in the critically-acclaimed television show Friday Night Lights, standing on the Redskins' sideline during pregame warmups Sunday at FedExField still would have heightened his athletic instincts.
"Being right on the field gets your blood pumping man. I love this," said Kitsch, whose real expertise is hockey. "I literally want to pad up, even though I'd last maybe a quarter of a play."
Standing beside actor Josh Brolin to promote their latest movie "Only The Brave," the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite crew of firefighters who battled the Yarnell Hill Fire in 2013, Kitsch had no trouble relating to the fraternal aspects of football. Besides the experience of playing on a fictional Texas high school team, this new project provided him and Brolin another strong example of the importance in working and communicating effectively as a team.
"That's everything, right?" Kitsch said. "If one guy doesn't pull his weight, you completely feel that. That's the beauty of it as well, that family, it really is, leaning on one another and having a captain and working all the way down for him."
Brolin, who has been involved in the firefighting community for 30 years and volunteered as a firefighter at one point in his life, immediately connected to the brotherhood and camaraderie of an emergency unit.
"It's just a community that I really like a lot," Brolin said. "Wonderfully misfit, inappropriate gang that once they get together – we talk about bravery, especially in the movie, the spirit, the collective drive these guys have, in order to protect the community, is really rare. It's the common man and woman from all over the place and they come, they get together, some paradigm changes and they're able to do what they do."
They could have easily been describing a football locker room, which is maybe why it made sense for their presence on Sunday. Besides promoting the movie, both actors stood with and honored five Prince George's County Firefighters during a special on-field presentation during the first quarter.
"I was reading about what they were getting honored by and I actually got all teary in the car, because they put themselves in such dangerous situations, such unpredictable dangerous situations," Brolin said of those being honored. "There's no way not to be massively humbled."
The day before, Brolin had spent the entire day walking around the city, visiting monuments and memorials and "really being able to touch all the historic events and knowing all the stories…it was special. It's a special town, I like being here," he said.
In fact, some of Brolin's first football memories involved the nation's capital; primarily, quarterback Doug Williams taking Washington to its second Super Bowl title. Brolin remains connected to the team through a friendship with the movie's producer Molly Smith, daughter of Frederick Smith, who is part of the Redskins' ownership group.
"We all kind of have this incestuous relationship with football and movies," he earlier told NBC Sports Washington.
Sunday's visit to FedExField was the latest stop in their long press tour – from Phoenix to California to New York -- that has afforded both Brolin and Kitsch sobering encounters with countless firefighters and their families. It was informative before the filming of the movie and deeply humbling after it.
"That's why we came on. We were flattered to be a part of it, and I think that's one of the best things that we do is that we get to serve and tell these stories that otherwise would never be exposed," Kitsch said.
The movie is also being released at a time when devastating forest fires have spread through much of California and killed dozens. Both Kitsch and Brolin hope that Only The Brave can bring more awareness for the heroic men and women exhibiting their courageousness during these natural disasters.
"It brings awareness," Brolin said. "Those guys aren't going to come out, so I'm happy to exploit them, happy to exploit how wonderful they are and how much they deserve our respect at every level."
As he looked at his surroundings, Kitsch, wearing a customized No. 19 Redskins jersey, representing the amount of firefighters that passed away in the firefight they depicted, couldn't help but pull a football metaphor.
"It's very similar to all these guys with the Redskins, the team," Kitsch said. "When the game is on, it's just them. Everything else is gone, and when something happens, it's just them [out] there. You have to lean on people."
Added Brolin: "All you have is each other."
*"Only The Brave" hits theaters nationwide on Oct. 20 *