As part of our coverage for the film “Rescue Dawn” Jeremy Davies was kind enough to take some time from his busy schedule to talk to me about playing Gene, Christian Bale, Werner Herzog, and his experiences on the film.
GVK: What attracted you to the part?
JD: Werner was a big draw. I always try to seek out mentors to become a quality filmmaker someday. Werner asked to meet with me, which was great as Werner was on my short list of mentors.
GVK: How did you prepare for the part? I noted that you have family in the service and did this affect your preparation?
JD: I had a very powerful desire to interpret the role and understand and honor the real Gene, and in doing so, honor all service members. My experiences on “Saving Private Ryan” helped with this and I tried to get as much information on Gene as I could.
There was not much information on him, and Werner gave me the freedom to bring out the character.
It is important that he be not only legitimate and believable as he is an opposing force to the hero. Gene is not a villain, but beyond the guards and the jungle surrounding the camp, he did provide opposition to the hero.
It was important to me to honor Gene’s perspective, and to emphasize with him and what he was trying to communicate.
The character like my character in “Saving Private Ryan” did not belong in war. It was a wider, more complex look at soldiers in actual war as it is hard to grasp what happens to the psyche and how some soldiers just do not have the capacity for it.
In the case of Gene, he had to believe that there was no war, that they were going to be released any day, and when Dieter arrived, he shattered these beliefs.
GVK: How did you lose so much weight for the role?
JD: I am inclined to be skinny and lose weight, plus I do not always have the most ideal nervous system for this type of business. I spoke with Christian about some of his weight loss methods for “The Machinist” and I mainly used Far Infrared Saunas.
Unlike regular saunas an object is heated without heating the air around it and it heats you at the same frequency as your normal body heat.
I did this under consultation of a Dr. and also replaced minerals and electrolytes during the process to lose 33lbs, which was important to me to honor the experience of the soldiers, as I could not show up on set looking like a well-fed, pampered, actor who had just come from their trailer.
GVK: I had read and heard from Steve Zahn that while filming in Thailand there were issues with the heat, snakes, bugs, and other issues. What were some of the difficulties you faced?
JD: It was not really much trouble for me. The set was authentic, as we could not honor the characters and their situation if this was shot on some comfortable backlot. It was a long walk to the set, and we did not have a lot of luxuries or chairs on the set. It was no unreasonable though.
GVK: What was working with Christian Bale like?
JD: Christian is remarkably kind and beyond a gentleman. He has been well deserved of his acclaim. His authentic dialect is very thick, and when you consider that he does the majority of his work with an American dialect, it blows me away at how good he is. This is hard enough for me who is an American, but to be able to hide his natural accent so well is amazing, he is a lovely man.
GVK: Thank you, I appreciate you taking the time for the questions.
JD: You are welcome and thank you for your support of the film.