His on-the-edge presence in Heat and Strange Days made Hollywood sit up and take notice. Now, in Saving Private Ryan, TOM SIZEMORE comes into his own. Words: Nigel Floyd
The war may be over. but Tom Sizemore is suddenly back in the line of fire. He has just completed filming The Mate/z. a whimsical comedy set in a small Scottish village. and is in Edinburgh for a day. answering questions about his role in Steven Spielberg's much- lauded World War ll movie. Saving Private Ryan.
There is mild irony in the fact that Sizemore’s perfectly understated portrayal of by-the- book Marine Sergeant Mike Horvath has generated talk of an Oscar. The acting skills here are precisely the same ones the 34- year-old. Detroit-born actor brought to an impressive collection of morally ambiguous cops. sleazeballs and professional criminals. in films such as Natural Born Killers. Strange Days and Heat. Here again are those subtle facial expressions and economical gestures. plus a meticulous attention to detail.
‘l‘m a detail freak.’ acknowledges Sizemore. ‘If I‘m playing a Marine sergeant. like in Saving Private Ryan. I want to know everything there is to kimw about being a Marine sergeant.‘
It’s not that he needs to ‘be‘ the character in some abstract method acting sense. He just needs immediate. intuitive access to the salient knowledge. so he can act the role with conviction. ‘l have a buddy — a Royal Marine called Billy Budd. believe it or not — who helped me out. making sure all the moves were coming together.‘ he says. ‘In the end. I could take my rifle apart and put it back together in two minutes. Initially. it took me thirty- cight.’
In preparation for the film. Sizemore. Hanks and the other members of their fictional army unit were sent to a boot camp run by ex~US Marine turned film consultant. Captain Dale Dye. But nothing could have prepared them for Spielberg’s brutal recreation of the disastrous D-Day landing at Omaha Beach. Filming with hand-held cameras that captured the immediacy of newsreel footage. Spielberg rigged the beach with fake mortars. machine-gun squibs and smoke pots. all obstacles to be avoided as the actors. weighed down by heavy packs and rifles. charged up the beach and
22 THE LIST 10—24 Sep 1998
'The scene where the guy takes his helmet off and gets shot in the head, I was right there when that happened.’
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Marine boy: Tom Sizemore in Saving Private Ryan
tried to hit their marks.
‘11 was brutal out there.‘ Sizemore insists. ‘l in no way want to suggest that I know what it's like to be under fire. but the stunt guys did try to simulate it as accurately as possible. The scene where the guy takes his helmet off and gets shot in the head. I was right there when that happened.‘
Si/emorc's progress towards this watershed point in his career has not been all plain sailing. During the filming of Michael Mann‘s llt’al. his idol and mentor Robert De \iro discovered Si/emore's heroin habit and encouraged him to check into a rehab clinic. l'nderstandabl)‘. it‘s a period of his life that he is keen to draw a line under. (liven the high-profile roles he‘s got lined tip. that shouldn't prove too difficult. First. there‘s a lead role alongside Nic Cage in Martin Scorsese‘s Bringing ()a! The Dead. about burnt-out paramedics in Hell's Kitchen. New York. Then there‘s Oliver Stone's American football movie On Any Given Sunday. with Al Pacino.
‘l'm in a different phase of my life now.‘ insists Sizemore. without a hint of complacency. ‘l‘m 34 years old. I haven‘t used drugs for three years and I‘m doing the best work I've ever done.‘
General release from Fri 11 Sep. See review.
Sllll .‘RIIM lili ACCOMPANYING BOOK. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. NEWMARKET PRfSS
The column that knows a winner when it sees one.
EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL can take a well deserved rest after presenting a packed two weeks of movies in August. Press attention leaned heavily on star guests — Ewan McGregor at the Velvet Goldmine opening, Emma Thompson in town for Primary Colours, the whole Lock, Stock 8: Two Smoking Barrels team muscling in — but there were real delights to be found in the lower profile body of the programme.
It’s encouraging to know that Edinburgh can host an event where a film like US number theory oddball thriller Pi can come to town unknown, win over the critics (The List gave it a rare five star accolade) and scurry off home with a UK distributor in the bag.
That the distributor in question is Pathé is particularly appropriate, given their financial support to the ; Festival this year. Pathé were also i sponsors of the first ever British 3 Performance Award, which was given to Derek Jacobi and Daniel Craig for their on-screen partnership in experimental Francis Bacon biopic Love Is The Devil. The same film then won the prestigious Michael Powell Award for Best New British Feature — check out the following ; pages for an interview with director John Maybury and our review of the i film.
Other awards went to Velvet Goldmine's Todd Haynes (Channel 4 Director's Award), teen gay movie Get Real (Standard Life Audience Award), Hum Drum (Post Office McLaren Award for Best British Animation), and Fragments *
5 Jerusalem (Observer Documentary
Award. Scotland came out cheering as Matt Hulse's Wee Three, the first of this year’s Glasgow Film and Video Workshop Screenworks films, shared the Fox Searchlight EIFF Best British Short Award with Jamie Thraves' lJust Want To Kiss You. More about Wee Three and Screenworks next issue.
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Top of the pops: Ewan M Gregor and Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the award-winning Velvet Goldmine