Tony Goldwyn on acting in The Last Samurai and sharing screen space with Tom Cruise
IT would be an extremely arduous affair to try and find flaws in The Last Samurai. Many would agree that the 2003 film is one of the best war movies in contemporary Hollywood, almost neck-and-neck in box-office earnings with another epic historical drama of the last decade, Gladiator (2000). While the former may not have earned the glory that Gladiator received at the Academy Awards, it still is an epic worth multiple repeat watches.
On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the movie, Sony PIX will air the Tom Cruise-starrer on Sunday. We caught up with Tony Goldwyn, who plays Colonel Bagley, as he regaled us with his experiences of working with a stellar cast (that includes the versatile Ken Watanabe) and how he prepared for a complicated role.
“Working with Edward Zwick was a great experience and I have admired his work in the past. The Last Samurai was kind of an ambitious and a beautiful script with interesting characters so I happily joined,” says Tony, adding, “He knows how to keep an emotional story going in an action sequence which very few directors know how to do.”
Edward followed up this movie with the incredible Blood Diamond, a movie that, like TLS, gave an honest take on the treatment of ethnic groups. Talking about the portrayal of the Samurai in the movie, Tony says, “I think the idea of an indigenous culture like that of the Samurai, which was in their last generation in the late 19th century, has always been about the romantic idea of the forces of modernisation who are seeking to crush it. Combined with action sequences and the idea that the culture is about to be extinct — there is so much romance and mystical power that their culture had.”
Tony may not have got enough screen time in the movie, when compared to Tom or Ken, but the importance of his character in the movie cannot be understated. Talking about how he approached the role, he says, “My job with the character of Bagley was to try and bring some humanity in the role who also happens to be the nemesis of the hero. So I did a lot research and reading about what was going on in America at that time and also with US. This research was mainly done for me to get me out of the 21st century perspective and I felt that I was the representative of how most people saw the world at that time.”
As for his time with Tom Cruise, Bagley recou-nts some very intimate facts about the actor’s work ethic. He says, “Tom is always the first person on the set and the last person to leave. He trained intensely while learning all the Samurai tactics and used his stunt double only once during the whole film. The thing about Tom is that he is the most positive, generous and enthusiastic person to work with. So as the lead actor he really sets the tone for everyone.”
September 9, 1 pm on Sony PIX.