Midway, Roland Emmerich’s blockbuster film about the World War II naval battle, opens this weekend. The movie tells the story of several soldiers on both sides of the war, most of whom are based on the real heroes of the time. Ed Skrein and Luke Kleintank play Lieutenant Dick Best and Lieutenant Clarence, and the two actors shared their research with Screen Rant and what they found most fascinating about their characters.
Gentlemen: amazing, amazing job. Great film that had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. Now, Dick Best and Clarence Dickinson, they're certified war heroes. What kind of research went into bringing them to life and informing your performances?
Luke Kleintank: My main thing is my character wrote a book directly after the war called The Flying Guns. It was his writing in every account that he had from Pearl Harbor to the end of the battle, so that was like a Bible for me. Just to hear his voice, because there is no video footage of him. There's just pictures. Everything else? A lot of this is documented, so you can see the men in the battle and you can see John Ford's documentary, which we include in the film as well.
That, and the reading. I read a lot of diaries of men that were in the war; Dusty Kleiss had a book, so I read his book. Just everything that I could eat up.
Ed Skrein: There was an incredible amount of literature and documentaries, podcasts and audiobooks, on the matter. And, I'm known with anyone who I've worked with – they know that I go crazy into that stuff. I go much too far into it. But I met my match with Mr. Kleintank here. We kind of pooled our resources together, and we're swapping books. In between takes, we'd be sitting; we'd have lunch in one of our trailers, we'd have lunch together and still the first thing on our lips would be talking about this.
It just meant so much to represent these people. Even if they were fictional characters, it would have been a responsibility to all of the servicemen in general. But the fact that these are real men with, I believe, surviving family members? It was a profound sense of responsibility and incredible respect.
You nailed that New Jersey accent, by the way. Great job.
Ed Skrein: Thank you, sir.
Dick Best goes on a real emotional journey throughout the course of this film. Can you talk to me about how he evolves during the movie?
Ed Skrein: Yeah, man. It occurred to me earlier on, when I was analyzing the script back in London, that there was a number of Bests. There was a number of stages, you know – you meet this cocky New Jersey flyboy at the beginning, who cuts out his engine just to prove to himself that he can land it. If the engine gets shut out, terrifying everyone around him, he’ll make light of it and make jokes with his buddies afterwards. You know, kind of a renegade, a bit of a maverick, which is in itself a fun dream character to play.
But then when you talk about dream characters, you want to see an arc and a narrative. As soon as the tragedy of Pearl Harbor happens and he experiences his personal loss, and his wife and daughter being so close to the attack, he just goes on this relentless one-man mission to try and win the war by himself. Which is impossible and doesn't go well. He suffers these tragedies, losing men and more men, and he struggles as a leader.
I think that there's a lot of gifted men that are not necessarily gifted leaders; there's a great line from Luke Evans’ character Wade McClusky, which alludes to that. And then what's beautiful about this story is he speaks to his two closest allies, and he opens up to Clarence Dickinson and Anne Best, played by the beautiful and lovely Mandy Moore. And so, with the help of them and Wade McCluskey and in part James Murray and all of the characters, he kind of grows and gains this emotional intelligence and emotional literacy to then become the leader that he that he always could and become the best version of Best. The best Best, as such.
- Midway (2019) release date: Nov 08, 2019