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05 November 2010 @ 11:00 am
New interview with Rami on "The Pacific"  
I posted this at the site but it's a great interview so I figured I'd post it here too!

Rami Malek only began acting four years ago, but has been working non-stop, including roles in TV shows such as Gilmore Girls, Medium and a two-year stint on the series The War at Home, as well as the movie Night at the Museum, with Ben Stiller. Now Malek is starring in the 10-part miniseries The Pacific as U.S. Marine Merriell ‘Snafu’ Shelton.

The Pacific, produced by the Band of Brothers team Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, is based on the books “With the Old Breed“, by Eugene Sledge, and “Helmet for my Pillow“, by Robert Leckie, and tracks the intertwined odysseys of three U.S. Marines – Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale), Eugene Sledge (Joe Mazzello) and John Basilone (Jon Seda) – across the vast canvas of the Pacific during World War II.

The extraordinary experiences of these men and their fellow Marines takes them from the first clash with the Japanese in the jungles of Guadalcanal, through the rain forests of Cape Gloucester, the coral strongholds of Peleliu, the black sands of Iwo Jima and the killing fields of Okinawa before their triumphant but uneasy return home.

- How did you get involved in this project? Was this the role you wanted?
This is the one I always wanted from the beginning. It found me, and I found it, and it matched up quite nicely.

He’s a young man who’s becomes ignorant to what he sees out there in the battlefield. It’s interesting because he said that one of the most savage things in the world is a 19 year-old boy at war and I see some of that in Snafu. What you see starts to wear on you, and makes you become a savage out there but without entirely letting go of your humanity.



- What do you make of Snafu?
He is a very wild-eyed young man from Louisiana who takes a risk by going to war not having much money, a lot of the kids didn’t have much because of the Depression, and definitely doing it for a noble cause after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Heading out and fighting for a cause is a pretty bold thing but the harsh realities and what becomes of these young guys at war is troubling yet makes for a very interesting story. He’s a very interesting character.

- Did you meet any of his family?
I met Eugene Sledge’s wife and she talks about him a little bit. She had some nice things to say, and said he and Sledge kept in contact after the war. I don’t know much about him, but I don’t think life was that easy for him.

- How does it feel to put yourself in his shoes?
It is difficult. I just went back and did a lot of research on the Depression when living dirt poor really was dirt poor. At the beginning, he went to the Civilian Conservation Corps that FDR set up to help people and help the country during that time when no one had anything.

It’s very interesting to see war from that aspect, as a way of kind of escaping and getting to travel. A lot of these guys thought they were going to the islands of paradise; little did they know they were in the very environment where America would fight the Japanese.

- How much do you think about what the real Snafu must have gone through while playing him?
We begin the day strapping on all kinds of weapons, the same weapons they wore in World War II, and when you put this stuff on, you’re like, 'I’m still a kid with all this killing material' and that starts to put you in the place that you’re there for a reason, and you’re supposed to kill people.

When you go out there, you have to put your mind in the position of ‘that’s the enemy’ and you have to do whatever it takes to kill them, essentially. Day after day, it gets a bit trying on the mind and then, with all the special effects, when we’re in battle it actually scares the living daylights out of me.

- So you don’t need to act that?
No. Honestly, I’ll rehearse lines and scenes, but when it comes to that stuff, whatever happens on the day happens on the day, and it’s usually very spontaneous.

- How was your boot camp experience?
The interesting thing about the boot camp is that the U.S. Marines were trying to do a whole lot in a little bit of time. I’m on the mortar with Sledge, and we’re expected to learn this thing within 24 hours, and it’s a pretty intricate use of equipment.

We’re learning how to fire a World War II mortar in 24 hours, and when you don’t get a few things right, you tend to get yelled at, and a bit berated, and that can be pretty harsh and almost make you want to cry sometimes.

So there were times where you hit a wall and you’re like, 'What am I doing here? Why am I putting myself through this?' but in the end, of course, I knew why I was there to do it. It hurts, it’s painful, the food is awful, and you smell pretty bad after a few days but it was worth it.

- Were there any injuries?
Yeah, there have been a lot with all of us. Our elbows and knees are all busted up and five months into this they finally gave us kneepads to make it easier! I also had a nerve compressed for three weeks in my arm, and that was pretty bad so it seems like there was something everyday when someone was down.

- How did you get along with your co-stars?
Great and it came together really quickly through the boot camp. When you see someone suffering in boot camp, all you want to do is help them. If someone drops their weapon, they will get screamed at, so you want to pick it back up for them.

Or, if someone’s late tying their shoes and you’ve finished everything, you want to help them lace their boots up real quick. That instantly forms a bond with the guys. You don’t want to see anyone falling behind but the guys that have been assembled on this project are pretty incredible.

We’re with each other all day and when we come back to the trailers, we talk and joke. You learn a lot about people’s lives that way so when you’re on camera you just give a guy a look and you both know it’s real and I think it shows.

- Are you excited about the possibilities in your career after this?
Yeah, but I don’t know if it’s going to get any better after this. This is the best job I’ve ever had. It’s the most exciting, exhilarating, and thoughtful, heartfelt, and passionate project to work on war in this era in this venue with these writers and producers and directors. Everything is just A-list.

- How was shooting in Australia?
Australia’s been fun. It’s a long way from home, which is another element that really starts to make one think about what they have back home. It’s nice to be in such a remote location and they have pretty girls in Australia!

- Do you think this project is timely with another war happening?
It is, and I think it always will be. There’s always time to think about the war, whether this brings it up or not. It also makes you think about past wars, too. Some of the weapons we use are from World War I so it’s just non-stop.

It’s just nice to be working on something where these kids were as passionate about what they needed to do, and your cause. It makes you realize how hard it must be, fighting today around the world, and how hard of a time they’re having, and what they must be dealing with being away from home.

- Do you feel any responsibility to the veterans?
Absolutely; I think there can be a tendency in these war films just to make it about war, but there needs to be that brotherhood relationship that’s shown, and the, why we fight, aspect. The relationships are of great importance, expressing the hardships, the vulnerability, the exhaustion and the loneliness.
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coxperus on February 16th, 2013 11:58 pm (UTC)
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