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September 29, 1999 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-09-29

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1& - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 29, 1999

'Three Kings'

explode on George Bush,

Los Angeles Times
In January 1991, ttcr raqi
President Saddam Hussein ordered
his troops to invade Kuwit. a coali-
tion of U.S.-led forces launched an
intensive air, ground and s a attack
to expel Iraq and restore Kuwai i
With the largest overs ,as U .
combat-troop deployment since the
Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War
severely crippled Saddam's war
machine, leaving tens of thousands
of Iraqis dead or wounded.
Thousands were taken prisoner.
Americans threw victory parades,
and the military took great pride in
its accomplishments.
There was only one problem. The
Iraqi despot remained in power.
Coalition troops under the command
of Army Gen. Norman -Schwarzkopf
Were barred from rolling into
In this setting, the Gulf War is
reexamined in a new Warner Bros.
film called "Three Kings," written
and directed by David O. Russell,
whose prior films include "Spanking
the Monkey" and "Flirting With
Told with surrealistic dark humor
and edited in a frenetic, breakneck
style, "Three Kings" stars George
Glooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice
Cube in an unorthodox, rollicking,
buddy-caper movie - with political
- Scheduled to open Oct. 1, the film
depicts American GIs as bored, dis-
oriented and eager to get back home
Clooney plays Special Forces Maj.
Archie Gates, a career soldier disil-
lgsioned because America, as it had
with Vietnam, does not want to fin-
ish what it set out to do. Wahlberg's
character, Sgt. Troy Barlow, is an
Army Reserve soldier with a wife
and new baby back home - who
believes in the mission. Cube plays
Staff Sgt. Chief Elgin, a God-fearing
baggage handler from Detroit whose
stoic commitment to his responsibil-
ities earns him respect.
When they discover a map hidden
oit a. surrendering Iraqi soldier, the
Gis take off in search of a huge
cache of gold Hussein is reputed to
have stolen from Kuwait.
As the soldiers raid bunker after
bunker, they come face-to-face with
Iraqis - who had been encouraged
by the West to 'rise up against
Hussein - being rounded up, tor-
tusrcd and killed by Hussein's
Republican Guard. The "Three
Kings" must decide whether they
should drop what they are doing and
help the Iraqi civilians escape.
'In a recent interview , Clooney,
Wahlberg and Cube sat down to dis-
cuss the film, the war and the risks of
making a political movie in the ner-

vous corporate climate of today's
Question: You play three GIs who
go AWOL right after the Gulf War.
You find a cache of gold that Saddam
Hussein has stolen from Kuwait and
hidden in the desert. Is this based on
a real story?
Clooney: Were there spoils of war?
Saddam certainly took a lot of things
that he took from Kuwait. We didn't
go over there and check out the
bunkers, but everybody that went
said there were tons of that stuff.
Wahlberg: It's obvious that it's
there. Kuwait is one of the richest
countries in the world. Everybody
knew what Saddam had done.
Q: As a politically informed
action-adventure, this movie treads
where others usually choose not to
Clooney: There is a danger ... as
we go through this (publicity)
process, that Cube and Mark and
Spike and I, and David, too, are
going to suddenly become experts on
the Gulf War. ... We'll be asked our
opinions. Remember this, because in
the political climate of (George W.
Bush), and since we sort of go after
the George Bush policy in this a lit-
tle bit, that's going to become a
hotbed. So, suddenly we are going to
become these experts on something
that we don't know enough about to
be the experts on. We know some.
I knew some of what happened in
the script was real. We knew that we
told the Shiites (we'd back them up),
and we knew that we didn't back
them and they all got massacred.
Schwarzkopf and those guys gave
away the fly zone and let those guys
have helicopters inside the borders
and assassinate all these people that
were throwing rocks at the end of the
Cube: I like how the movie shifts
gears. It's like going from comedy,
then it goes into the heist, and then
there's this action and then (an Iraqi
mother) gets shot (by Hussein's
Republican Guards) and it turns into
a whole different thing.;
Clooney: Well, the great thing is it's
not an anti-American movie, either. It
doesn't piss all over American policy
in general. It just says we should know
more. ... All of the (film's) military
advisors were there, and they all said,
'This is how it happened. We had to
stand by and let the Republican Guard
... kick the (expletive) out of a people
that we told to rise up and overthrow
the government.
Q: There is a point in the movie,
George, where you make that deci-
sion to help the Iraqi civilians. A
mother is shot in the head at point-
blank range while her daughter and
husband are looking on.

" ,,
.. .__

work with, they want to make you do
it two or three times their way, and
then they'll give you two or three
times your way. I mean, most peopl.
David wants you do it two or three
times his way, but then he want:o
change it and have you do it tw.Yr
three times the new way, and then It
wants to change it again and doIt
two or three times.
Clooney: He will change while the
camera is running. He'll change your
lines. The tricky part of it, and what
makes the movie not just chaotic but
also brilliant, is that you're thrown.
You don't ever really get comfoi-
Q: The film was shot near
Diego and the deserts of Arizona
Mexicali, Mexico. What was it like?
Clooney: We had very specific
problems in the making of the movie.
We'd go to work at 4:30 in the morn-
ing because it's a sunlight thing and
it's winter in the desert. By 4:30 ip
the afternoon, we're done. I mea,
the sun is gone. ... So, what .har-
pened was, there was a real com-
pressed period of time that we haw
work very quickly once we got
and got going.
Q: George, when you saw the
script for "Three Kings," you really
wanted the part, didn't you?
Clooney: Oh, I fought to get it. I
followed David around. I followed
him to New York. ... There was a cli-
mate here when we were putting this
movie together last summer where
the Planet Hollywood had just been
bombed by a terrorist, "The Sie
was coming out and they thought tat
was going to become a big deal, and
there was this real concern that this
movie was going to put employees at
Time Warner in physical jeopardy.
And there was a meeting about it
where there was basically a conver-
sation going, "We don't feel we
should make it." .. (Warner Bros.
production chief) Lorenzo i
Bonaventura) really fought to
the movie.
The truth is, there's going to be a
lot of (fallout) from this movie.
People are going to give us (exple-
tive). The Bush world is going to
give us (expletive) because George
Bush takes it on the chin and because.
(George W. Bush) is running (for.
president). ... We're not out to get
anybody. It's not anti-American. It's
not anti-American policy. It's O-
tainly not anti-Arab. What we hav is
a movie that tells a really good story,
and I think we tell it without trying
to pass any judgment, and we try to
do it with a sense of humor. And,
thank God, that Lorenzo and these
guys over (at Warner Bros.) said,
"You know what? Screw it. I'm not
going to be told not to." Doesn't hap-
pen all that often.

Courtesy of Warner Brothers
George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube star as "Three Kings" bearing gifts in the new David 0. Russell war film.

Clooney: As an audience, if I step
back and watch it, it's pretty gruesome
violence. It's also the most responsibly
violent movie I've seen in a long, long
time. David's thing was every bullet
counts. You don't just see the effect of
a gun going off, you see what it does to
your body. Literally, your insides. You
see what it does to the family. You see
Q: Who exactly is Archie Gates?
Clooney: Archie Gates is sort of
based a tot on this, guy, (Sgt. Maj.)
Jim Parker, who was a technical
adviser who gave David a lot of the
stuff he used in the script. He also
died of cancer while we were shoot-
ing. Great guy. And, interestingly.
he'd fought in a lot of different
wars. Gates has been through a war
(in Vietnam) where we didn't com-
plete it and came home and felt
abandoned by his country. And now.
he has sort of been promised, "This

time we're going in and the country
is going to back you and we're
going to get this one and do it the
right way," and he believed it. What
happens is, the minute we crossed
those borders, we stopped. And we
said, "OK, we win," Just because we
said, "We win," not because we fin-
ished the job we set out to do. And
this character feels abandoned
again. So, now, he says, "Screw it.
I'm taking care of me. 'And he goes
and finds the gold. That's sort of his
Q: Your character, Cube"?
Cube: Chief is basically from
Detroit. You know, seen a lot of vio-
lence. Very religious man. Basically
in the Army Reserves and making a
little money on the side and isn't
expecting to be caught up in the war.
And he gets caught up in the war. He
relies on the training, but he is going
to rely on the same thing that got him

through the streets of Detroit, his
Lord and savior Jesus Christ. That's
where he's corning from. He's going
to take the training and use it per-
fectly. You know, he's not going to do
his own thing. I think Chief is some-
body you want on your right hand.
Q: And Mark?
Wahlberg: Barlow is just like
Chief. Instead of being from the
'hood, he's from the trailer park. I
think Troy Barlow is a guy who is
trying to do the right thing and now
has a family, and a lot of his outlook
has changed because his wife has
had a baby. I think he also is a guy
who thinks he knows a lot more than
he does and realizes that early on.
but also is eager enough to learn
what it's really about.
Q: What is Russell like to work
Cube: David is a very interesting
director because most directors that I

f S

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