Steve Zahn Talks Rescue Dawn.

Recently I spoke with actor Steve Zahn about his experiences making the new film “Rescue Dawn” which stars Christian Bale. Though clearly exhausted from the numerous press junkets he has done in recent days to support the film, I want to thank him for providing the answers to my questions.

GVK: What attracted you to the part?

SZ: I saw the documentary years ago, and I was blown away by it. I also read the memoirs that Dieter wrote and being a fan of history, I was drawn to the part.

GVK: You role looked very demanding, how did you lose so much weight for the part?

SZ: Not eat. Actually, I tried to eat only natural foods like nuts, apples, no salts, as many diets were suggested, but I found natural foods the best. I did eat what I wanted to one day a week, but that was tough as if you eat Mexican food for dinner, you can be on the toilet most of the night sense your body has become accustomed to a natural diet.

GVK: What else did you do to prepare for the part, as I imagine playing a starved prisoner of war is not an easy thing to relate to?

SZ: There was really little info on the character in the documentary and the memoirs, I knew that when Dieter first met him, he was practically holding his intestines in his hands, but I became obsessed with the character, even after filming to know more about him. I have e-mailed vets and contacted people who might have known him to get a better idea of the man he was.

For the physical demands of the film, I did a lot of running, and mental prep and had to get addicted to pushing myself.

GVK: I had read that when filming in Thailand, you had to contend with snakes, thorns and other issues. What were some of the other difficulties you faced making the film?

SZ: Being bit up by all of the bugs, having to always look under bushes, and being barefoot for most of the film. As hard as that was, there was also the grueling heat which when chained up with a bunch of other guys, made it rough.

GVK: What was working with Director Werner Herzog like?
SZ: He is an interesting guy that was very different to figure out. He is a lateral thinker and would change daily the focus or tone. There were times when we looked at the film and said that there are tons of holes, and not a lot of gore, and also wondered if he had enough footage for certain scenes. However, if the audience has empathy with the characters, then the film comes together.

He is also fearless, as for the scene in the river, most directors would say jump in, and do this, he dove right in and told us he wanted us to do it exactly as he was doing it.

GVK: How was working with Christian Bale and what can you tell the readers about him off camera?

SZ: Christian is very smart, specific, and amazing; he just makes it so much easier. The interesting thing is that when the camera is not rolling, he is one of the funniest people you will ever know. I would say that he is one of the top three funniest people I have worked with.

On a long day, we would sit in a rice paddy and joke and chat for hours while they set up the cameras and lights. I really looked forward to coming to work every day.

GVK: Thank you,