Interview Ryan Phillippe

When prison guard and New York family man, Vince Rizzo, sees a familiar name among the new convicts list, he realizes it belongs to a boy who he fathered 20 years earlier but abandoned. Now married with a new family, Vince takes his long-lost son, Tony Nardella, home with him — not telling his family who Tony really is. This isn’t that unusual, as the Rizzo family is filled with secrets from each other. By bringing his long-lost son into the family, and by exploring a platonic extra-marital affair with a fellow acting student, Vince comes to realize that the only way to grow and truly understand love and intimacy is to face the lies he’s told about his past and bring his family and loved ones into his future.

Out Friday is the latest Iraq Film ‘Stop-Loss’.

‘Stop-Loss’, is the story of decorated Iraq war hero Sgt. Brandon King who returns from Iraq to his small Texas hometown.Then, against Brandon’s will, under a measure called “Stop Loss,” the Army indefinitely extends Brandon’s enlistment and forces him back to Iraq. This upends Brandon’s entire world. The conflict into which he is thrown tests everything he believes in: the bond of family, the loyalty of friendship, the limits of love, and the value of honor.

Returning to the big-screen will be Ryan Phillippe as Brandon King, the solider unwillingly re-recruited. Ryan has been AWOL from the screens for a while now and caught up with the star to see what he’s been doing.

Q: What attracted you to this project?
A: For me it always starts with the script. I think without that, there’s nowhere to go. I thought it was really beautifully and honestly written. I loved the fact that it was about the soldiers, from the soldiers’ perspective. It wasn’t bogged down by an agenda politically and it wasn’t telling you how to think or feel about the situation we’re in as a country. It was more: this is the human plight of the soldier and what they’re going through and something that’s very relevant because it’s happening now and I’m sure last week there were people stop lossed, and next week there [will be]. I think that’s also what separates us from some of the other Iraq themed films that have come before us. Those did seem to have sort of been telling you something or preaching. I think that’s insulting, the idea of Hollywood doing that. I don’t think Hollywood needs to tell people how to think or feel about an issue if you present it and allow the individual to make up their mind. Ours is about the soldier and that’s it.

Q: Did you meet other soldiers who’d been stop lossed?
A: Yeah, I talked to a soldier’s wife, the wife of a stop lossed soldier. The other thing is, that hasn’t happened at the time we start the film and I think more of our time spent with the soldiers was getting to know who they are, what motivates them, what it’s like to be over there and it wasn’t really about the procedural stuff of what was going to happen to me in the film. Hopefully I’ll get to meet some people as we go with screenings and stuff across the country. I also don’t think a lot of those guys are that forthcoming or want to be found out.
Q: Did you know what stop loss was before the film?
A: I had a vague sense just from things. I’d seen one or two little newspaper, nightly news, Nightline type things. I think it’s intentionally kept quiet-ish. I don’t think it’s a very popular policy. I think that’s why we don’t hear much about it but I think that’s going to change too, not because of the film but because the longer we stay there, the more difficult it’s going to be to get people to want to go there.
Q: Do you feel you never need to go through military training again?
A: You know I actually love that, man. There’s that part of me, the athlete part of me that loves the physical challenge of it. I think Chann and I were like that, the other guys maybe a little less so, but we showed up ready to be soldiers and ready to lead.

Q: What did you relate to most about Brandon?

A: I don’t know, I guess I related to the idea of Brandon as the leader of the soldiers that was not very afraid of very much. I think he’s probably a guy who’s pretty confident in his abilities to kind of keep a level head through distress and that. I think he’s probably a better guy than me in terms of always doing the right thing, kind of having that- – I don’t know, just very straightforward. And then I think all of that is compromised by the situation he finds himself in. I look less to what I relate to in a character, because then you kind of get into judgments. It’s kind of really just figuring out how this person would get through this situation.

Q: It’s been a year since we’ve seen you, so how’s life right now?
A: Good, man, really I can’t complain. My kids are great. I’m writing right now. I want to direct something this fall that I’m writing. I finished a really cool film in London at the beginning of the winter and yeah, man, no complaints.

Q: What were you just in?

A: It’s called Franklin and it’s with Eva Green and Sam Riley. They say it’s like Batman meets Magnolia. That’s how weird it is.

Q: Batman meets Magnolia?
A: Yeah. My character kind of is a vigilante or an alternate reality.It’s
really crazy. I have all these fight scenes in this Edwardian costume.
I did all of my stunts myself and I have like these boots with a hidden
heel and I’m doing full on fight scenes on the rooftops in these boots.
It’s ridiculous.

Q: As a father, do you think/worry about your kids maybe going into the military?
A: Yeah, I definitely do and you know, if it was my child’s choice, you would never want to stand in the way or impose your own views politically or otherwise on whatever path they chose. I think if it was a war akin to WWII and the reasons why we fought that, I would have far less of a problem than I would this kind of war. But I think more than anything it’s just the idea of any harm coming to your children is the most terrible thing you could imagine. I remember my mother would say that she would lock me in the attic if there was a draft, and I think there would be that impulse. If you have a son and if he’s 18 and that’s what he was most motivated to do, I come from a military family, I would support that. But God I hope it doesn’t ever come to that.”n
Q: Kimberly Peirce spoke of you as a father/leader being right for the role?
A: I think we’ve talked about that before. One of the reasons why it would make sense for me to lead this group of guys is because I’ve been around a little longer, I’m older and I’m a father. I think there are those aspects that I feel fraternal towards these guys. I support them, want to see them do well, know the enormous future ahead of him, can’t wait to see it happen. Think Joe Gordon Levitt is one of the best young actors out there. It’s like I am that way by my nature. I am not competitive and want to see the people I care about do as well as they possibly can. I think there is part of a leader of a squad that is like that. You want to protect, you have the fatherly instinct toward those guy and you want to help and see them ascend and achieve and I think that kind of made some sense. It was sort of a built in aspect to who I am that I guess could relate to Brandon.
‘Stop-Loss’ is in Irish Cinemas from April 25th.