*War is a timely subject and the Armed Forces are always revered for their service and patriotism.
In the Ang Lee directed, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” 19-year-old newcomer Joe Alwyn plays returning soldier, Billy Lynn.
Back from Iraq, Lynn and his Bravo Squad are special halftime guests at the Thanksgiving Day football game. Excitement builds to a fever pitch when Bravo appears and Beyonce, along with Destiny’s Child performs. At a press conference in New York, the cast and filmmakers commented on their experiences.
Mr. Lee can you comment on the innovative filming tecnique that virtually puts the audience on the field and the actors “in your face” you used?
ANG LEE: It is what it is. It can do anything, if you know how to do it. It’s just like, thank God there’s a great excuse to do that, having soldiers in a halftime show next to each other. That’s a great excuse to experiment on that and see how it goes.
When did you realize this wasn’t the norm, Joe?
JOE ALWYN: I didn’t fully understand but when we started, I could tell that it wasn’t the norm with these huge cameras that were centimeters away from your face. it was so different that no matter how many movies you might have made before, there were things that were unusual.
Ben, seeing your book realized in this way when you saw the finished product, did you recognize your work?
BEN FOUNTAIN: I feel like the movie stayed absolutely true to the spirit of the book, in terms of exploring that gap between reality and fantasy, which is as wide as the Grand Canyon. One thing that really pleased me about the movie and has carried over in discussions today, is we get into these issues of what’s fake and what’s real.
Kristen, what role does your anti-war views play in the movie?
KRISTEN STEWART: I was a lot younger when this all went down and I think that I share a really generalized, sort of remote relationship to it that most of the people my age do, unless you’ve had a family member serve or unless you’ve become fervently involved politically, which, to be honest, my generation has very little to do with and what I found the most interesting about this is just that you have somebody who is essentially a pacifist, but is not overtly.
Can you talk about the comraderie?
GARRETT HEDLUND: Everybody went through a boot camp which consisted of the Navy Seals drills. It was one the most intense situations of my life. The guys that put us through this situation, kicked our ass. Everybody that got their ass kicked was deserving of it. It, I think, really made a difference in shooting them in character. Everybody was sad that they didn’t have their phone for their Tweets, Twitter and Facebook. They benefited from it and it was a character-altering thing that I think everybody was appreciative of, and that’s all because of Ang.
Martin, was there anything disconcerting for you?
STEVE MARTIN: Well, going into it I thought, o.k., I’m 70 years old, I’m going to be shot in high def, with no makeup. I’m going to look fantastic! [Laughs]. I was impressed by the idea of the technology. I felt we weren’t really acting somehow. It was quite a natural experience. I felt very comfortable in my role, I felt very comfortable in the environment and it’s a process that is really, really fun. Especially when you’re working with very talented people.
Among those people are Brian “Astro” Bradley, Chris Tucker, Vin Diesel, McKenzie Leigh, and Arturo Castro. “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” opens wide, Friday, November 18.
Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]
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