Pearl Harbor

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...Anyway. Just returned from a much needed vacation on a small Island somewhere in the middle of all the whitest beaches and most egregiously turquoise water I'd ever seen. I have to thank Bruce and Mr. Earl for their kindness, they extended me the generosity of a weeks stay in what I must assume was the planned site for the Garden of Eden--until God realized that NO fruit, no matter how juicy, would entice one to leave such a place, and in which event there would be no modern civilization--so he scaled it down a bit.

The rest was needed and the skies were blue and full of sun. There really is such a thing as heliotherapy. Who'da thunk it?

Spent all my time reading. I can recomend, without reservation, three of the six books I plowed through. "A Man In Full" by Tom Wolfe. "Be Cool" by Elmore Leonard. "Heatbreaking work of staggering Genius" by something Eggers. They're quite different, but all well worth checking out if you happen to find yourself on a beach somewhere in need of a book. The others I read were histories and only particularly noteworthy if you've taken an ardent interest (as I have, of late) in the event that precipitated our involvement in the Second World War: the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor.

Which brings me next movie and it's one I'm really thrilled about. In fact, I haven't been this excited to do a movie in a long time and nobody is as suprised as I am at that. If you had asked me a year ago if I'd be doing Michael Bay's next movie--and FOR NO MONEY at that--I'd have said you were crazy. And maybe I am, but I don't think so.

When I got the script I was fully expecting the kind of saccharine, popcorn that was Armageddon. I was shocked, to say the least. Jerry and Michael are working from a script by Randall Wallace (Braveheart) that is uncompromising, true to the accounts of survivors and striving to be the definitive epic on the day that "lived in infamy" and ultimitely proved to be the definitive moment in the greatest conflict of the last century.

Rather than some jingoistic cowboy story about yee-haw Americans getting "snuk-attacked" by cagy "Japs," this is a much more complex story. It begins with a nation that, according to a gallup poll, is 88% AGAINST getting involved in "the war in Europe" (!!!) It is a place suffering mightily from the hangover of a costly (in suffering) and senseless (in both geo-political and humanistic terms) war where thousands of American boys died in trenches in Europe. It is a place where Henry Ford and Charles Lindburgh lead HUGE rallies where the great applause line goes: "Hitler is our friend!!" The "peace in our time" movement which advocated isolationism in the face of the Axis powers invasions in Europe and Asia--an unimaginable concept in retrospect, but one that had an invincible political currency at the time. In fact, there are many fascinating parallels to the post Vietnam era, where the populace absolutely DID NOT want to send our young men overseas EVER AGAIN.

In the White House, a democratic President is running for his fourth term and facing the fight of his life. His Republic opponent, Willkie, is making great political hay by implying that FDR wants to "Drag America to war." A fistfight breaks out in the House of Representatives after a vociferous anti-wr, anti-FDR speech--each congressman takes and suffers six blows to the face. FDR publicly aknowledges that "The Axis powers will give anything in the world to have me licked the fifth of November!" and he barely squeaks by in the election but only after repeatedly promising "your boys are not going to be sent into any foriegn wars!"

An advisor to FDR, Mccollum, puts forth an internal memo indicatating that they fully expected that "upon defeat of England, the United States could expect an immediate attack from Germany." Yet FDR simply did not have the support of the populace to enter the war--just lending the British a few ships had caused a political shitstorm on capital hill and lead FDR to have to employ his famous "garden hose" analogy in a "Fireside Chat" the thrust of which being "If your neighbor's house is on fire, you lend him your hose..."

At a terrible political crossroad, FDR was stuck. Until that day in 1941, when a fleet of Japanese Battles ships, attack fighters and a group of bombers led a shockingly brazen assualt on the US Naval base at Pearl harbor, leaving 2403 Americans dead and 1178 wounded in less than an hour. The Japanese lost less than two hundred men, and only one was captured.

The movie will capture, using the most advanced special effects, and reproduce the exact events of that terrible day. if there is one thing I am certain of, it is that Michael's emormous visual storytelling talents will bring the attack sequence a sense of horrifying realism and terrible majesty. The third act of the movie is also culled from true wartime events in the pacific (and I don't want to give anything away) but it is truly gripping and extremely well executed in the script. the fictional love story that Mr. Wallace crafted (a la Braveheart) is well done and entirely absent false sentimentality. Suffice it to say that there is (I believe) very good reason that Michael, Jerry, the rental houses, and so many crewmembers and actors (including me) have waived our "fees": we want to make a good movie--and we want every nickel up on the screen to help tell the story. Ultimitely, I've found, it's a lot more satisfying to make a movie you can be proud of than it is to cash a big check. This time, we're taking the route of the former. I hope you'll like it. Memorial Day 2001.

Onto less good news. It appears that the burgeoning enthusiasm for the "commercial" prospects for Bounce have grabbed the hearts and minds of te folks at MiraMax, grabbed the better part of valor by the throat and throttled him within an inch of his life. In short, the movie is now set to be released amongst the titans of commerce on July 7. This is disconerting to me for several reasons. One: the movie is not your typical summer fare and therefor will suffer from unreasonable expectations performance-wise (money-wise, that is.) It is neither "notting hill" nor "runaway bride"--it is very much an adult-themed love story (the most recent example of which I can think of is the Redford vehicle "the way we were")--and conventional wisdom dictates that audiences are in the mood for lighter fare in the fair summer months. I'd rather see the movie come out in the fall when more "serious" films have traditionally done better. Secondly, after the publicity glut of Ben Affleck magazine articles that attended RG, I can't possibly bring myself to foist myself on the good people of this country again so soon. In the immortal words of Don Roos "they DO get tired..."

If the movie does end up coming out in the summer, and it looks that way, I hope people go and I hope it does well (particularly since I feel it is unequivocally my best work to date as an actor.) But I fear for the fate of a little movie about the struggle to be a better person in the face of loving someone and the need we all have for redeption, forgiveness and the awful pain of our own shortcomings--in the face of all this knife throwing and spaceships hurling our way in July and august.

All that being said, I'm putting my head down, working out and reading with actresses for the next six weeks, until shooting begins in Hawaii. I know, tough life.

Thanks for stopping by and (to quote Decartes, I think?) sorry for so long a post, i didn't have time to make it shorter. "