THE WORLD OF SOLDIER #2 ... Part 2
MP: How about meeting the other cast members?
EH: At the beginning of the day we had our exercises and Capt. Dye would give us our orders for the day, basically what was going to happen. Anytime that the cast members come in and out, make them feel welcome. Daniel Day-Lewis and Eric Schweig were being trained by the same person. They come over one day, and it looked like a swarm on a honeycomb! Me and Mawi [a Cadre member], we was just standing back and thinking, "Who IS this guy?" We had no idea; we didn't care. All those other guys were all around him. I did get a chance to meet him at that point. I got this big thing against ... there is NOBODY that is just absolutely wonderful in life. I try to treat everybody fairly. I just don't see where this super, super person is. Well, I found out that he is not this super person. He's just a guy like the rest of us. Very, VERY nice guy. He doesn't expect anything of you other than you being yourself. Of course, he doesn't want you to expect anything from him. We got to talking ... I kind of told him that my great grandfather Hurley was from Ireland. "Where? Where's he from?" I have no idea. All we know is he came to New York in 18 something or other. I'm curious to find out where my roots come from in Ireland. What's the people like ... we had a really good talk. Eric Schweig, on the other hand, was like super hyper. Never stopped. He's just going, going, going. Laughing constantly. Big smile on his face all the time. I introduced myself to him. He's like, "It's really nice to meet you." Boom! ... to the next person! [laughs] He just NEVER stopped. There's this hill almost squarely straight up. These guys, they're running up and down this thing all day. While we're out marching and doing our little run, these guys are running up and down this hill all day long as hard and as fast as they can. I didn't understand what ... of course, now I see the movie I can see why. I'm not so certain that Russell Means ... I don't think we met Russell Means, I don't think he came out. He may have come out one day, but didn't stay the full day, I can't remember right off hand. Madeleine Stowe, she did come out for one day. She was brought in in a 4x4 Explorer, sitting in the back seat. Kind of really set up ... I mean she acted, and was treated like, a goddess. Had a chance to meet her at that time. It was like meeting the President. You remember THAT moment, but he'll never remember it. The introduction to Daniel Day-Lewis really stuck ... and, Steven Waddington. He just became part of the family at that time.
One other thing, if I could, before we get out of this ... We're going through this training and Capt. Dye is telling us we've got to kill the Indians, we've got to save ourselves. It almost built up this prejudice against Indians. Not because they were Indians, but because they were the enemy! So, we get word that the Indians are coming to work with us today. "Oh boy!" Every one of us is shaking in their shoes. "Oh gosh, we have to face these guys!" We knew it was coming, but we thought it was going to be on the film. Mickey Gilbert, the stunt coordinator, he's coming, he's training us. He trained us on how to play fight. Of course, Capt. Dye had trained us how to REALLY fight. [laughs] So, we're throwing each other on the ground, hitting each other in the stomach, for 15 or 20 minutes, as hard as we possibly can ... taking turns at doing this ... and then here comes Mickey Gilbert in to show us how to do it and not KILL each other like we had been doing previously. Here's the Indians, they come in ... and these guys are twice our size ... they're a good foot taller than we are, looked like they just come out of Gold's Gym ... We're thinking, "Right! We're supposed to fight these guys?" Well, that's what Michael Mann wants. He wants them to look bigger and heavier and stronger and more powerful. He wants us English to look small and pitiful. It was really funny. We're supposed to form this line, OK? We form this line and we go down and we're introducing ourselves like two teams who play baseball and they finish the game and they're saying good-bye to each other. "Good game!" So we're going "Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi." Very awkward situation. Then, we're lined up ... we don't get to pick who we're going to mess with ... we're lined up and we're going to battle it out. We're going to go through some of the sequences. The English die every time. We don't get to throw the Indians around at all. We just learn how to die. Period. It went a lot better, but the first moment, it sticks in my mind. And, if I'm not mistaken, that is the day that Russell Means came to the boot camp. I'm pretty sure about that because there were three guys, trainers of the Indian core, that came ... and they're wearing all black, battle dress uniforms. We're all standing around thinking, "Who are these guys?" They looked like Secret Service guys. Come to find out one of them is a stunt man that played in Total Recall. Very awkward situation. David Webster was the leader's name, I believe. He was like Capt. Dye for the Indians. The English doing their training ... one man. Indian core ... same amount of people ... three guys training them. We couldn't understand that. To this day, I still think that we became more of a family than the Indian core. I feel like they did not become that bonded, until they had their strike. We, by that time, had already built up our family, and we were ready to kill them. We were told to kill them, that is what we were going to do. But, we didn't get to kill them. We died! Time after time after time ... [laughs] We weren't supposed to throw them around quite as hard because they only had breechcloths on, we had clothes on. Their backs weren't protected, and some of these guys, their backs were absolutely torn all to pieces. Grass cuts, rocks, some of them looked pitiful ...
MP: You guys eventually got paired up with an individual Indian warrior.
EH: Absolutely. Leon Goodstriker. He and I got paired up. Very nice fellow. He's from Alberta, Canada. Cardston is where he's from. He was a minor league baseball pitcher. [laughs] Good striker, how wierd can you get?
MP: Whenever there was a battle sequence, you were fighting Leon?
EH: Yes. Nine times out of ten, yes.
MP: You would rehearse your moves together and then go out there and perform for the camera.
EH: Yes. We always had time. A lot of people think you get out on the set, you've got action, you've got cut, you've got action ... Out of 18 hours working time, you probably got two hours of filming. The rest of the time is setting up, waiting for the director to make his decision, "Do we have to shoot this again?" ... It was unreal, the amount of waiting that we had to do. Of course, we had to get there, get dressed up. That took forever. They fed us. It was unreal. So, we got set up. We were placed by the production weenies. We were told to work out a sequence. Or, you need to fall this way, you need to do this, you need to die, you need to run. Most of the time we were given the freedom to do the fighting sequence as we felt necessary. If there was an extra person, who for some odd reason didn't have a partner, then we had a threesome, two against one. Or, I would fight with him, kill him, and then this guy would turn around and kill me. A lot of times that would happen. If he killed this guy, what's he to do, stand around and twiddle hs thumbs until the director calls, "Cut"? Sometimes it might go on, sometimes it might be fast. "Action!" And we'd fight. "Cut!" Sometimes, it might be "action" and we'd keep background on going, and we'd make up stuff as we went along.
MP: We've read, and even when watching the film it appears, that things were choreographed, that is the battle sequences, but really, it seems you're saying, they weren't.
EH: Yes and no. We were given our main battle sequence, our scenario we had to accomplish. Then, when that was done and we had it down pat, then, we had to come up with a longer sequence. What are you going to do when you have nothing else to do? A lot of the time, we just had to run. If an Englishman killed an Indian, he could run. If two sequences finished at the same time, then these two came together and they had it out.
MP: You just improvised that as you went along?
EH: Right. If the time was given we would. We had signals that we'd give each other so that it would work out. Most of the time, we tried very much to work this out beforehand. There was one sequence Leon and I had worked out. Had it down pat. We didn't even think about an extended version. We worked it out and we're filming, we're doing our thing. "Continue background" comes and we're laying on the ground like, "Oh, what do we do now?" I said, "Leon? Chase me!" I got up and I ran just as hard and fast as I could. He's much bigger, faster than I was, and he caught up with me, and he just gives me a big old tomahawk swing right there on the side of the neck. I go flying all over the place. Like to kill me when I fell, because I was at a full bore run. This had not been planned. I feel this boom, and he actually says, "I'm hitting you." A lot of times you hear, when going through this, "Don't worry, you're only going to be this big. You're background." [holds fingers about a quarter inch apart] Anyway, he hits me and I give it all up. I sling my gun. I hit, and I hit WRONG. I thought I was never going to get up. [laughs] It knocked the breath flat out of me!
MP: Have you kept in touch with Leon since the filming?
EH: As much as I can. Leon travels around the country. He is a medicine man in training. His father is the medicine man for the tribe ... for the Blackfoot tribe in Cardston. When his father dies he will take on that title. He's a very good hearted person. He's been trying ... running around the country taking up donations to support a boys' camp. He's building it specifically for the kids. Not JUST for boys, but for girls as well, from the Indian tribe that he is in, but no one is excluded. If anybody wants to come in for this camp, they are more than welcome. His father has been kind of a Boy Scout leader, I guess you could say, for the Indian tribe for years and years. He feels a lot of responsibility to carry this through, and he's trying to build this camp in Cardston, because there's nothing really there for these kids. He's been talking with me, on and off, for a couple of years, wanting me to come up and help build this thing. I would love it. So, I can't really contact him, he contacts me from time to time. About every two years or so, he comes and he'll live with us for about a week or a month or just however long he needs to hit all the places around here and move on his way. He has different contacts in the States that help him out ... He did have the chance to play Chief Sitting Bull for the Wild West Show in Euro-Disney. He stayed there for two years and did this show. He enjoyed that and came back to the States and has been kind of traveling around, living out of the back of his car, or truck. I can call his family and say, "OK, when he calls, tell him to call me." I'm due to hear something from him about any time now. I've been meaning to call his folks and have them tell him to get up with me, because of the Board. I kind of want to get his input, if you guys can give him a little space ...
MP: Sure would ... The first scene you guys filmed was the ambush on the George Road. Had filming been taking place prior to that, while you guys were still at boot camp?
EH: We were told that this was the first day of filming. We got to work on the first day of filming is what we were told.
MP: You personally were in on the filming then, from this first day all the way to the filming in the "cave" which was the last day.
EH: Well yeah, except for the reshoots that they had to come back and do.
MP: How about we get into some of these scenes? The first scene you're in is The Ambush, right?
EH: Actually, no. The first scene is the prelude to The Ambush on our march where Magua tells the Major basically what he thinks of him.
MP: Oh yeah. Sorry, my mistake.
EH: At that time, it [the production] was not unionized. A lot of battles went on there between hair and make-up and wardrobe and the director. Michael Waxman was the director's assistant. Very big butthole. I mean, nice guy, but, he has a job to do, and, Michael Mann tells him, "I want this done!", it's his job to see that it's done. No questions asked. So yeah, he comes across as a big butthole. Off the set, you can get along with him, but we didn't know that. This was the first or second time we had seen him, and we were ready to ring his neck. Everybody! Absolutely EVERYBODY, not just the Cadre. He's got this voice. He doesn't have to lift his voice and you can hear him a mile away. If he has not got the restraints, and the responsibilty of having to do what he had to do, he's a good guy. He had to be on a schedule. It's up to him to save the money. "We gotta get this done! We gotta get this done NOW! Get off your butt. Get it done." Wardrobe was having a fit. We're supposed to look nice and clean. There's a lot of standing around. All of the main characters ... prelude to action ... nice chairs, umbrella. "Would you like to have a drink Mr. Day-Lewis?" "Can I roll your cigarette for you?" The Egyptians on either side of them fanning them. We ... "You will stand in a line. At ease. Smoke 'em if you got 'em. Drink lots of water." We were given canteens that we kept in our haversacks. We could drink nothing else. You could not sit down. If you got that uniform dirty in any way, shape or form, it's your butt. We were burning up in these things. We're in the middle of the forest at Linville Falls. Humid as it can be. Hot. We're just ready to pass out. There's no way in God's green earth that we're going to make it through the summer. We're not going to put up with wardrobe telling us we can't sit down. Everybody sat down. Wardrobe's having a fit. They can't do a thing, we're just ignoring them. He [head of wardrobe] runs to tell Michael Waxman. Michael Waxman comes over and shouts. We stand up for a little bit and then sit down. [laughs] We play this game all day long. Well, we find out that night everybody's sick of it, they're going home. Wardrobe, hair, lights, camera ... everybody's going home. We will unionize or we're going home. Next day went MUCH smoother. [laughs] A lot more filming happened the next day. That first day was really rough for everyone.
MP: Just run off a few highlights of the filming here at Linville.
EH: The little twisty thing that Daniel Day-Lewis does with his gun when he sees Magua getting ready to shoot Madeleine Stowe? If we done it once, we done it a thousand times. It took that many times. It wasn't that he couldn't do it. He could do it very well. It was just something that Michael Mann wanted. Some look, something that he wanted, and it wasn't happening. We lay dead for hours and hours. Sometimes it was raining. It was cold. WE couldn't believe that we were going to have to lay on the ground for this long. So, we ended up making up things. We played dead when we were filming. When we weren't filming, we were throwing mud clods at each other, calling each other names, having verbal wars, constantly picking, playing, finding something to occupy us. Some people had books. "Cut!" ... pull out a book. It got almost on your nerves. You would hear, "Action!" and then you'd hear, "Goddamn it, Igou [a Cadre member] ... !" Because someone lobbed a dirt clod at you, right in the middle of action! [laughs] During all of the ambush filming you worked from sun up to sun down there on that little trail. We had to be there at 4 AM. They'll feed you there ... get through wardrobe ... get through hair ... get through make-up ... get all of this done. Be ready when the sun comes up. Because when the sun comes up, "Action!" will be heard. In the dark forest, you know how it can get dark real quick, so lighting was a big thing. They didn't want to use a whole lot of artificial light. Through most of the filming here, it was cloudy and raining, so we had to use a lot of the artificial light and the little reflector screens. We continued until the sun went down. You had to use flashlights, or car headlights, to get back to the changing trailers. You never saw the changing trailers in the day time. Not once did I drive Jonas Ridge in the day light. It was always dark. I was the only one that went home. Out of the 30 ... we were given rooms at the Pixie Motel, of all places. I just thought my responsibilty was at home. I've got a wife, I've got a baby. I can't pull myself to be away from them for a week. It took an hour to drive up there, an hour to drive back. I would leave the house at 3 in the morning. Was getting at home probably at 11 or 12 at night. So, I was getting about 2 or 3 hours of sleep. It was rough, but I had to be there.
MP: Did you first meet Wes Studi at The Ambush?
EH: Yes, that was the first time we saw, him, and I was thinking, "Geez, who in the world is this guy?" I can remember my first impression. I thought to myself, "I've seen this guy. This is the one guy I've seen before. I KNOW him! Where have I seen him?" Come to be, it was Dances With Wolves. He looked like the meanest, baddest ... he was the ugliest bugger .. he was going to rip your head off and spit it out. You didn't mess with him. He looked like he had the mentality of the leader of the Black Panthers. He was just going to tear you apart. He just had that look about him. He was the NICEST man. Joked with you. He called himself the "Tour Guide," because he led us to where we were going to die! You could kid with him on anything. He was really a down-to-earth fella. If I'm not mistaken, his wife, or girlfriend, was with him pretty much all the time. She seemed like a very dedicated wife. He was a very down-to-earth, family-type man. Really surprised me. Didn't go with his looks at all. Very nice fella.
MP: Then you guys go to the Fort. How long was the filming there?
EH: Three weeks, we were told at first. I think it actually turned out to be four weeks, three at night, one during the day time. The three weeks at night ... that was a big change. It started on Monday. We finished working in the daytime on Friday, so we had a short weekend. We had to report at three o'clock in the afternoon [on Sunday]. It just felt weird to everybody. All of a sudden, we're on third shift! We get up to the Fort ... we never thought we had so much down time until we got to the Fort. There was a tremendous amount of down time. So, we slept a lot. The little cannon balls were made of styrofoam, so we played soccer, volleyball, basketball, if we had a little basket ... anything and everything just to do something. We were there through the filming on the jail cell, through the stuff inside. So, we're out in the yard playing. We had explosions, fixed explosions, going off at different times. I guess for sound effects while the inside stuff was going on. Tremendous amount of inside stuff going on for us to just be kind of goofing off outside. We thought, "This is REALLY weird!" We played hide and seek ... anything. Then, when everything came down to it, it was rough. I need to step back here ...
Our first night at the Fort, we were French. For two days, we played Frenchmen. When they first show the Fort and there's the guys loading the cannons and such, that was the Cadre. We were trained in the procedures of firing these cannons. Well, these cannons were light as a feather. They were made of styrofoam with a steel sleeve in them. They had a pre-charged load to go out that was basically nothing more than fire. I don't even think the wheels were made of wood. They were set on this little mechanism with a wire that pulled them back for a recoil. We had to ACT like it weighed a thousand pounds and it took everything to get it back in place, and then go through our sequence of swabbing, reloading, packing, standing back, ready, maintain, fire. If we didn't get it done ... I mean, these things were timed. No one set behind it and pushed a button. This thing was timed where they went off in intervals. So, if we weren't ready, [laughs] this thing went off. We had to get out of the way of this thing or it would run over us. It was really weird sometimes. You'd get ready to light it, and not yet have that thing quite down to it, and it'd go off. So, they had to go back and re-work everything. They re-worked to where they made it a push button thing. It worked a little smoother. It gave us time to get the heck out of the way before it went off. We had two days of that ... the close-ups of that. Then we went into the Fort and just lay around and did nothing. At one point, we were given lower than extras ... I mean they were extras, but they were not of the men that we had trained. Approximately half of those guys that we had trained left. Let's step back again ...
Before we got to the Fort, there was a scene that we did ... We spent a whole day at the Biltmore House, in a field, 150 men, to shoot one scene of us firing at one time ... three volleys. The Cadre did their little thing with the cameras right up front, up close. Shot the camera, basically. They had a screen there, we shot the camera. We did this over and over again. Then they wanted a whole string of people to maintain a perfectly straight line, fire in rank ... that is, the first rank fires, the second and third ranks move up ... the last time, all three fire at one time. We tried this over & over & over again. The Cadre were over to the far right, 30 men in rank of three. Then on down the line you had better to worse. The end of the line, furthest from the camera, kept fish tailing. Always out further than we were, really getting Capt. Dye ticked off. Rainstorm came. Everybody headed for the hills ... buses, anything we could get under. It finishes, the day was about over, everybody's disgusted. Capt. Dye goes out there, gives us one good, to the hilt speech. Puts us down! Then we do it! After the rainstorm it is really humid, there's moisture on the ground. It was really hot that day. They had a lot of medical people throwing ice and everything else on us. When we fired, after this storm, the smoke from our guns going off literally sucked itself to the ground and hovered over the ground for a half an hour. If anybody can get a copy of that, I want to see it! It has to be the most impressive scene that I've ever seen. To be there and see it ... it was unreal how the smoke acted after this rainstorm was over with. A step back further ...
There is another story about the boot camp. When you fire all those guns in a volley, remembering that no balls were in the gun and you have little recoil, you really can't tell if yours fired or not because your have your eyes closed. So when you're reloading you have to feel your barrel to see if it is hot. Boyer must not have felt his that day and was continuing to reload. We are guessing that he reloaded four or five times before this thing finally went off. When it did, KA--------BOOOOOOOOOOOOM! It flew off his shoulder and hit the person behind him. We were all deaf from the blast and Dye chewed his and all our butts out. He was right in front and to the side of it. You have to know we were in formation and you can touch the guy in front and to each side of you. If you can think of TNT going off near you, that's what it was like. Scared the living shit out of all of us including Capt. Dye. Dye had the gun checked out before it was used again. Back to the Fort ...
The Cadre were allowed to eat with the cast and crew. The extras had their own special place, sandwich making stuff ... a lot less. We had steaks, shark fins, trout almondine, really fancy food. Some of The Cadre had become buddy buddy with some of the other guys and decided they were going to eat with them. We were given the choice. If we didn't like what one place had, we could go to the other place.
MP: Previously, I thought, you had mentioned that you guys marched to the set and cooked your own food.
EH: Yes, we marched ... we never cooked our own food. The military core, the Cadre specifically, marched from the wardrobe and hair site to the scene of the Fort, which was about a mile. We marched there, we marched back. If, by some chance, Capt. Dye wasn't there, the Cadre always marched, or walked. We didn't necessarily march. The extras that were there to fill the levies of the military core, they boarded a bus. We chose not to. The access road to the Fort was very steep, and that's where marching in the sand paid off. Some of these other guys were falling, not marching. We marched and never fell.
The last day on the set for Captain Dale Dye ... a sad day for The Cadre!
The one day that all explosions were going off, everything is coming down to the wire ... the one filming scene, "Alice! Cora! Why are you here?" That took all night long! It boiled down to one man, Maurice Roeves, another man we met at the boot camp ... very nice fella! You could meet him at the pubs in Asheville on any night. He'd talk to you, drunk as the rest of them were, and have a good time. He was one of the few men that actually gave me a contact number to get a hold of him. He took us under his wing, became our father, practically. Our loving father, not our scolding father like Capt. Dye had. [laughs] ... He could NOT get that right! Every other person in that WHOLE fort scene knew those words by heart, and exactly how they went. This man could not get them right, for that one night. Who knows why?! He could not get them right. So, we did it over, and over, and over ... I, with a couple of other Cadre members, were pulling and pushing this wagon that you see going up the access ramp to the second level of the Fort. In one particular shot, the camera is set up so that you see this thing coming up the ramp. That is me that you see coming straight up. When you've got seven men pushing something like that, you got men in back, with their heads down, pushing with all they got to get it up this thing. VERY heavy, it was real, all wood. This ramp was very steep. They're giving it all. All this commotion is going on, you can't hear nothing. This camera man is sitting square in front of me. I cannot do anything but run all over him. He's on the edge of the Fort, and I ran all over him. The only thing I could do was grab a hold of him and take him with me. Here we are, we're setting, and we've got inches when the wheel of this thing comes by us ... he's darn near hanging off of this thing, ready to fall off ... If I'm not mistaken, he dropped the camera at one point in time, and I've got a hold of him and there we are ... it was unreal. That night, we were all dead tired.
The trench scene was another hair-brainer. We had this huge trench, all three ranks down in this trench. You couldn't see over it. It was over our heads. We had this home-made wooden ladder, made of old tree limbs, that we used to climb out. The first rank had to come out as one line. If we came out erratically, we had to do it over. "Cut!" Do it again. Here we had maybe 75 or 80 men doing this thing, coming out. We get out, take position. The second rank comes out, everybody steps up together, third rank comes up, all three of us step up again. We had to wheel on the center. You had this long line, 30, 40 men long, we have to spin from the center, which means the guys on the right side have to walk backwards, the guys on the left side have to march forward, staying in step, maintaining a straight line. When they cut all this forest down, they just went through there, chop, chop, chop. The French, they're running towards us and all these little stubs, probably 4-5 inches tall with slants on them where somebody went through with a hatchet and cut these things down, are sticking up. These guys are tripping over them, falling on them. It was very dangerous. We're coming up out of the trenches, doing our little thing, eveybody's tripping and falling ... you can imagine, it just took all night.
MP: This is the Courier Diversion scene that didn't make the final cut, but can be seen on the network TV version.
EH: Yeah ... So, we wheel on the center, fire at the French coming at us ... the French are supposed to fall dead.
MP: I guess half of them have already fallen by now. [laughs]
EH: Oh, they were complaining! They were getting up and fussing and cussing! My wife Cathy happened to come that day. It was the first day she came with me and actually watched what was going on. She was SO bored. There was a four wheeler sitting out there on the road, I think she fell asleep on the four wheeler. It was not what she expected of the big, glamorous Hollywood filming thing.
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