This interview originally appeared in Inside Film on an unlisted date. Interview by Steve Goldman. Copyright of A & R Publishing, Limited.
You must be pleased to be part of such an epic film.
And to remain on screen, absolutely. I mean, there were a lot of other guys who were down there for months and they appeared for just 30 seconds. So at the very least I'm thankful for that. But even now I can say I loved it. I just thought it was so different from any other film I've ever seen. It's so much more about the balance of life, our connections and non-connections with God, our fear and non-fear of physical death and its meaning. It is about the struggle of each particular man in his own inner thoughts, and fears, and yet it's also the story of the whol group.
Did the film make you think differently about war?Well, I wasn't a fan of war from the onset, I have to say. But in making a film like this you can get as close as you possibly can to that kind of experience without being shot at. I feel that when you're acting and you raise yourself to that level of adrenaline, it feels as if you're almost there. It has definitely left its mark on me.
What attracted you to the project?
All the obvious reasons--a great script, a great part, a great director. To be honest, I would have been excited to go and just work as a production assistant.
Was anyone injured during the filming?
To a limited extent. People got hurt here and there. There's one shot that Terry had to keep in the film because Ben Chaplin cut his face in it. Things like that. People tripping and falling. People following a little too close here and there. A lot of extras. A lot of actors. A lot of weaponry. A lot of tough terrain. For me, though, it was a simple equation. I was beaten to a pulp every night and my shins were as black as your hair--every night.
You have a number of scenes with Sean Penn, whose reputation precedes him. What was it like working with him?
Sean is Sean. He's so Sean. You know, he's funny and he's dry. He can be cynical and brutal and hysterical. He's all those things, he can turn on a dime and be mean, and then he's the sweetest guy in the world. But if anyone, it was Nick Nolte who dominated the set. Then again, it might have been an extension of his role as the Colonel. Of course, everyone at the end of the day took their marching orders from Terrence Malick.
How does The Thin Red Line compare to Saving Private Ryan?
I didn't think that Saving Private Ryan had a great script. I mean, I kind of think the script sucked basically. I think it was a great film and a great Spielberg movie, but this script blew Private Ryan out of the box. And by the way, I read for Matt Damon's part--Private Ryan--which I didn't get.Back to The Thin Red Line Interviews Page