Can you pick a scene from the scene that captured Sledge's struggle the most?
The scene that captured the struggle I would say is in episode nine, when the dying Okinawan woman asked him to basically put her out of her misery. He's just on that brink, he's always just on that brink of going over the line and losing his humanity and sanity and all these things, when he sees that woman he realizes why he's here, why they're here, what he's trying to do, what his purpose is and who he really is as a human being and decided not to do that. I think was the thing that kind of brought him back into the real Sledge, allowed him to go on with his life, even though it was very difficult.
Was that scene taken from Sledge's book?
It was taken from Sledge's book but it was modified a bit. But the essence of it was still there.
The war as depicted in the The Pacific seemed to be a much more isolating experience than the European-theater war of Band of Brothers, which on some level is more like a bunch of Boy Scouts going a field trip to fight Nazis. Was that isolation and emptiness something you were conscious of?
I don't think it was an accident—that's one of the reasons the higherups wanted to tell this story in the first place was because it was so different from the European theater. It was a culture that nobody understood at the time. It was islands of dirt, in the middle of this vast ocean, that for some reason were said to be important. They weren't just fighting the enemy, they were fighting malaria, they were fighting the diseases, they were fighting the islands, the conditions and all of those things were absolutely integral to the whole project, and that was one of the things that was very important for everyone to show. We were very conscious of that the whole time.
What was the shooting process like? Did you walk away with any substantial new friendships?
Tons of those. That was actually because it was so difficult. It really was the hardest shoot I've ever done in my life. The most physically and emotionally exhausting experience ever, literally ever, I've ever had. [They told us when we started], 'you guys are going to become so close and this and that' and I'm like 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, like whatever, it's going to be 30 type-A personalities in a room for 10 months and we are going to hate each other.' But it really was the opposite. We honestly did love each other. I still talk to everybody. I didn't expect it, and it is like so cheesy, but it really did happen that way.
You just had a part in The Social Network, and then what's next for you after that? I've been a huge fan since you did The Cure as a child actor back in 1995, and I'm so thrilled you're back working.
Oh thank you, that means so much to me. You know I'm going to keep plugging away. I just got back today, and I've got like 10 scripts to read—my agents and managers are diligently finding me the next project. Acting is always going to be number one but what I learned in film school I want to make that happen too, so I'm going to actually start working on my own. I wrote a script with my girlfriend, and I love it, so I'm going to try and do the hardest thing you can possibly do in Hollywood and that is make your own movie. We'll see how that goes. We're in the beginning stages.
What's it called? What's it about?
It's called The Plains, right now, working title—and it's obviously set there. It's an odd postmodern Western—it's a psychological thriller basically and it's something that developed just this past summer, and we've been rocking and rolling trying to get it ready. So I'm having some people I really trust to look at it and give me some notes and I'm going to try and get it made.