Q: What attracted you to this project?
A: When I read the script, I immediately loved it. It was a powerful story that reminded me deeply of Mai Lai, a story of truth and justice. I especially liked the strong female lead part of Major Tyson played by Jean Tripplehorn. It's one of those rare and great roles for females where there is deep inner and moral strength, but also vulnerability and compassion. I love the fact that she is also attracted to him and he to her, but nothing happens between them because of his deep loyalty to his family. It reminded me so much of the Bridges of Madison County, and I think every female and male has been there. But first it was the script that attracted me--a classy and powerful drama. Every word was perfect in the final draft, and that meant attracting great actors--which we did.
Q: How was the cast chosen, and what do they bring to their roles?
A: The cast was chosen because they were fabulous actors, but that's the kind of film it is--an uncompromising creative vision which starts with director Robert Markowitz, famous Quebec feature DOP Guy Dufaux and an impeccable cast of great character actors. I hope Don Johnson is nominated for an Emmy®. Jean is always subtle and exquisite, and who could not like Arliss Howard, John Heard and Sharon Lawrence?
Q: What are the challenges to bringing a best-selling novel to the screen?
A: I think the biggest challenge to any adaptation is having to write a screenplay which is external action and dramatically driven and structured while still hopefully keeping some of the inner world, integrity, spirit, world and most importantly "voice" of the author. Some adaptations fail in this, and that's why they're abysmal and disappointing. This one did not.
Q: How is this movie relevant to our present culture?
A: Just recently, America was at war, and I suppose the whole world is at war with terrorism. We're sending our young men off to war, and the justification for these wars is a tricky and complex question. Vietnam was probably the most complex, and it will always gnaw at the American conscience. I think that the film describes that well. We sent off these young men, our children, into a war they couldn't understand, a war ruled by madness... young boys! The film is an honest depiction of that--the madness that can take over ordinary and "good" people's lives, people who are good for the rest of their lives perhaps and, in one moment, made choices that were evil, immoral and destructive.
Q: Why is the main character's "word of honor" important to him?
A: Ben Tyson is a "good" and "honorable" military officer. He's loyal to his men, his country, his family. The dilemma in the film is he cannot be loyal to all at once. He must choose. I think it's an interesting film because although he loves his family more than anything in the world, he cannot escape his deep sense of betrayal to his men, his fear of betraying his country and even the young men who now are fighting wars, whether in Iraq or Afghanistan. And his word is everything to him. He's a man of deep moral character. The problem is truth is the ultimate moral guide - I think it is the author's message--that ultimately it is truth that must "speak" no matter how painful, no matter who it hurts. It is interesting because I think this applies to so much more than this film, but how we live our lives--the little daily choices we make with our children, our partners and friends, and our co-workers--to tell the truth and to live lives that are not false lives.