|B.L. One thing about your role choices, you
really like to mix it up. Last time we saw you on the big screen you were
wearing a dress in Sweet November. Tell me about your latest film,
Black Hawk Down.
J.I. Well, first of all it's an amazing book. If
anyone is slightly interested in what it is like being 19 and being in a war
then Black Hawk Down is a real page-turner of a thriller...Having
read it I was desperate to be in it and I was thrilled that Ridley offered
me a part in it. None of us really knew what the parts would be like because
there are so many characters in the book and the film kind of evolved which
is an interesting thing to see.
B.L. Black Hawk Down depicts the real life
account of a group of U.S. soldiers sent into Mogadishu, Somalia in October,
1993 as part of a U.N. peacekeeping operation. While their intentions were
good, the carefully planned mission resulted in the U.S. military's biggest
firefight since Vietnam. Was it hard portraying these heroes?
J.I. I've never felt such a keen responsibility to
the men that we trained with at Fort Renning, the ones who were left alive.
We met the friends and relatives of the people who died and were injured out
there and I think all of us felt a duty to tell the story as responsibly and
unglamorously that we could because in itself, without any Hollywoodizing,
there is such nobility and such heroics in what those boys go and do all the
B.L. You have worked with a lot of young actors —
Heath Ledger in The Patriot, and now Josh Hartnett in this. How did
you like working with Josh?
J.I. He's obscenely good-looking I can hardly bear
to think about him but he is very nice so that helps a lot. He is very
anti-status; he is very keen to kind of play against as much as possible the
hierarchy on a set. We all trained together as the Rangers and I was in
charge of him, so I would punish them and tell them what they could and
couldn't do. Then when you arrive on set and Josh has a trailer the size of
Kansas it's not his fault; he didn't ask for it, he worked very hard to
equalize every situation possible. I don't think he's learned how to throw
his weight around yet and he probably never will because it's not in his
nature, and he aspires to do very good work. I think you see the
complications. He's done these two enormous blockbusters and he's drawn to
doing small complex roles, but once you become this huge star it's much
harder to do that kind of thing.
B.L. Ridley Scott, who directed the movie, is
such a great filmmaker. What was it like to be under his direction
J.I. It was terrifying, it was nothing like going
to real war, but Ridley would go 'you only have one take, come around the
corner, you have ten cameras on you and the whole thing is going to blow up.
Helicopters are going to fly and that thing is going to blow up over there.'
Here I am, the commander of these troupes, but I was, like, can we just
break that down into a bit more detail. No, come on, we haven't got time,
let's go. I would come around the corner with all these men behind me and
suddenly all hell would break loose. The entire city seemed to explode with
bullets just flying all around it. It was all I could do to stop crying and
sucking my thumb and it was like that every day for five months.
B.L. Oh I'm sure you did just fine.
J.I. We made it, but I do have to say that I think
working with Ridley is an eye opening experience. The man is a visionary and
has everything literally mapped out in his head exactly how he wants to see
it. It's fascinating just to watch him work. I am so honoured that I got the
opportunity to work with the man.
B.L. Did you learn anything after making this
J.I. I'm not particularly pro-militaristic. I
don't think of myself as right winged and I certainly wouldn't defend the
British government or the American government on everything that they do
abroad but in this particular instance we were on the side of the angels.
The west was out there, and America was out there trying to do some good and
they sent these young boys in (the average age was 19) to this hornets nest
and they fought magnificently and they fought with such commitment to each
other. I sound like a recruitment commercial, but it really was an honour to
try and represent them and try and tell the story without showing off. A lot
of acting is showing off and trying to make yourself look good and I know
the other actors tried to make the Rangers and the Delta force look as good
as they are.
B.L. You have a bunch of films coming out, but in
a few months we'll see you on the big screen opposite Jackie Chan and
Jennifer Love Hewitt in The Tuxedo, which was filmed in Toronto.
J.I I loved Toronto, it's a fabulous city. Working
with Jackie was such a blast; I even learned a few moves from him. The
Tuxedo is going to be a lot of fun; I can't wait for people to see it.