We were honored to be invited by Lionsgate to interview actor Ed Skrein, one of the stars of the film ‘Midway‘ at the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, CA. Famously known for his more villainous roles such as Deadpool and, more recently, Alita: Battle Angel and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Ed Skrein shows off the heroic side to his acting abilities through the role of Dick Best in the new film Midway. The movie focused on real life stories about the Battle of Midway during World War II. Skrein talks about the emotional heaviness in filming this movie. Although the moviemaking process was fun and joyful, there was a real seriousness to it as they portray real people who fought in this war with real surviving family members. Skrein emphasizes the responsibility that came with this role, as well as the desire to respect their characters.
Dick Best is a stark contrast to Skrein’s other recent roles; however, he jokingly compares the character’s pilot abilities to Borra, the winged character he plays in Maleficent. Skrein also touches on the opportunity to work with veteran actors such as Woody Harrelson, Patrick Wilson, and Mandy Moore, and the things he and Luke Kleintank were able to learn from them. When asked what he wants the audience to learn from this film, Skrein emphasizes the importance of knowing history so that we don’t make the same mistakes, particularly in a politically and morally divided age. Midway’s story is not a simplistic good guy vs. bad guy tale, but rather one that touches on the horrors of war. The Battle of Midway, Skrein explains, was a successful battle; however, the film begs the question: at what cost? These important themes can be seen in the film in theaters this Veterans weekend.
Get ready to soak up some history this Veterans Day weekend – Catch ‘Midway‘ flying to a theater near you on Friday, November 8th!
Host: Machelle Noel here at the USS Midway Museum in San Diego. Joining me right now are actors Ed Skrein and Luke Kleintank to talk about their upcoming movie Midway, so guys thank you so much for being here.
Luke Kleintank: Absolutely.
Host: And specially in San Diego sharing you movie here.
Luke Kleintank: No problem.
Ed Skrein: Thank you.
Host: So, 2019 has been a really good year for you Ed with Maleficent, Alita and now Midway, can you tell us a little bit about this movie and your character as well?
Ed Skrein: This movie has been an experience unlike any professional experience I’ve ever had. It was kind of an emotionally heavy, poignant piece from the moment that I entered it, to the moment I read the script, to the moment we arrived in Pearl Harbor to shooting the rest of it in Montréal and I think I can speak for Luke and the rest of the cast in that regard that we all felt this real incredible kind of sense of seriousness. I don’t mean to make this a serious interview and I don’t mean to paint a picture that we weren’t having fun and smiling and joking on set, but it was a serious responsibility to be respectful to these men. These were real life men with surviving family members, so there is not only the context of history, but there is a current importance to it as well, so it was an amazing experience, very different form Alita.
Host: Oh yeah.
Ed Skrein: And Maleficent, although I was flying in Maleficent as well, but I had my own wings there. It would have been a lot easier to attack-
Host: There seems to be a pattern here-
Ed Skrein: Yeah, yeah it would have been easier to attack the carries as Borra, but anyway that’s another story, but yeah it was great.
Host: Awesome, and Luke, what inspired you to be apart of this this movie and the reason why you wanted to take on this role?
Luke Kleintank: Well mainly the battle of Midway but also Wes Tooke’s writing, the opportunity to work with Roland Emmerich, the opportunity to work with such an incredible cast, I mean, the cast is fully stacked. We have Woody Harrelson, Aaron Eckhart, Luke Evans, Many Moore, Dennis Quaid, I mean, the list goes on and on.
Host: What was it like working with those veteran actors like Woody and Patrick and Mandy?
Luke Kleintank: Well you know it’s funny because there was only one scene we were gonna work with Woody and he was in a car passing by, so we didn’t get a chance to work with Woody. Well, we got a chance to hang out and he’s a lovely man.
Ed Skrein: And you do learn so much from experienced actors don’t you? I mean me and Luke have quite a bit of experience between us already, but yeah it’s another level when you’re taking about what Denis and Woody and Patrick have done just in terms of numbers, so you do learn and you do analyze these older actors and you do try to take some lessons from them and learn from their experience.
Host: It was an all-star, A-list cast especially the music background with Nick Jonas and Mandy so that was really interesting to see that camaraderie. And when it came to the film, did you guys intend to audition for Best and for Dickinson or was there somebody else that you were interested in?
Ed Skrein: I’ll tell you straight, I would have played any character. I would have been any of these guys and I think these guys would have been amazing as Dick Best as well, especially Luke, so yeah I only went for Best.
Luke Kleintank: Yeah I went for Dickinson.
Host: That’s interesting. What was something special you learned about your characters?
Luke Kleintank: Well, my character wrote a book called The Flying Guns, and he wrote it not too long after the Battle of Midway. So, I mean they could have made a movie about Dickenson alone for what he went through.
Host: You know you never know, there might be a spin-off.
Luke Kleintank: You never know, but his book was so versatile, and he explains everything from the beginning to Pearl Harbor to the end of Midway. And his personal relationship with his people and his family… So yeah, I learned a lot about him. He was the first naval officer to ever receive 3 naval crosses in the history of the Navy, which is an immense honor. I think only one person’s received it to this day after that.
Host: What do you hope the audience will learn from these types of historical films, especially the younger generation when it comes to World War 2 stories and the battle of Pearl Harbor?
Ed Skrein: I think it is so important for us to remember the past so we don’t make the same mistakes. There’s a cyclical nature to human nature. You know, in a time where we seem to be becoming more politically divided, and morally divided in some ways where there is a new version of nationalism and patriotism which is not quite as pure, let’s say, as the 1939 version. It’s divisive times and it’s important that we understand the horrors of war and what conflict really is, and we don’t paint a picture of some, you know, gun-ho fun war where the Americans just went out and won and the Japanese were the bad guys. There’s no summer dance at the end of it. America [inaudible audio] won that battle, or the battle’s a success, but at what cost? At what loss of life? How many fatherless children were there after that battle and such? And how many mothers lost their sons? So, I think it’s important that we look at the horrors of war and try not to let it happen again. This is a knowledge that, you know, around the world there is incredible conflict going on at the moment, and so we should empathize with other nations and empathize with other people and otherness in general rather than create these divides.
Host: And during the press conference, I was watching your expression of awe that you had here at the USS Midway museum. What’s your thoughts about it so far based off what you’re seeing? It’s pretty incredible! Is this your first time being here or?
Luke Kleintank: Yeah, but it’s just amazing to see the Douglas Dauntless behind us because we spent so much time in one of these, but this is the real thing. When we were filming it wasn’t the real thing.
Host: Right, I just saw your movie a couple days ago, so it’s really strange like seeing you guys like a day after. Going, ‘wow, it’s like I just went into the movie.’ Speaking about the movie, the movie is actually gonna be coming out Friday November 8th, just in time for Veteran’s Day weekend. So folks, be sure to check that out and learn more about the World War 2 heroes and everything. It was such a wonderful movie, it was wonderful seeing you guys here. I’m Machelle Noel with Ed and Luke and we hope to see you guys next time.
Vivian Rodriguez | Writing Contributor
B.A | Film Studies | California Baptist University
Hi! My name is Vivian and I am a Film Production major at California Baptist University. I hope to become a director and cinematographer in the future. I enjoy all kinds of movies, from Disney musicals to epic Marvel films to sappy Rom Coms. When I’m not making movies, watching movies, or talking about movies, I spend my days at Disneyland, the beach, or the local froyo shop. I strive to find positivity and creativity everywhere I go! My motto in life is from the book of Romans 12:21, “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”. Instagram @vivianrcdriguez | View My Projects
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