Honesty is the theme of this week’s column: Off-the-cuff, unscripted, tell-it-like-it-is truth.
Some say it’s hard to come by in Hollywood, and, well, they wouldn’t be lying.
Not that all stars are pants-on-fire fibbers. It’s just that they’re under scrutiny from the media and are prepped by handlers — not to mention the fact that they’re paid to pretend to be someone else.
So I celebrate the few, the proud and yes, the Marines — or at least actors who are paid to pretend they’re Marines.
At this week’s premiere of "Jarhead," the film about Desert Storm Marine snipers, those who didn’t camouflage responses but rather fired direct hits heartened me.
For instance, I asked co-star Peter Sarsgaard (search) if it was some sort of rite of passage for actors to star in war movies. He said no, and explained why:
“The thing about being an actor is that we all have big egos, and we want to pop out of a film. But when you have the same haircut, you’re wearing the same uniform and you’re supposed to stand in line and listen to someone yell at you, it goes against the feeling of being an actor," he said.
So rather than some BS line about male bonding, Sarsgaard admitted it was hard to suck it up and possibly be outshined by one of your film buddies.
And he did have a film buddy in co-star Jake Gyllenhaal (search) — although things could have gotten sticky, given that Peter dates Jake’s sister Maggie Gyllenhaal (search), also an actor.
“I told him we’d better get along,” Sarsgaard said. “Otherwise we are going to have a lot of uncomfortable Thanksgivings. And I teased him about her all the time. I talked about how beautiful and sexy she is, and he’s like, ‘Yaaa.’”
"Jarhead" director Sam Mendes (search) was honest in saying that before he gave Jake the role of real-life Marine Anthony Swofford (search) (who wrote the book upon which the film is based), he “made Jake suffer for a few months” while he met with other actors.
Jake then confessed that playing a Marine certainly does “f—- with your head — and I’m not gonna lie. You are just gonna have to bleep me out, and I’m excited about that.”
There was one more "Jarhead" star who came clean with the truth: Jamie Foxx (search). He plays a Marine staff sergeant, but it wasn’t this film that got him straight-talking. It was his upcoming remake of "Dreamgirls," co-starring Beyonce and Eddie Murphy.
There have been lots of rumors about how director Bill Condon wants Fantasia Barrino of "American Idol" to get the role of Effie, played on Broadway by Jennifer Holliday. But she hasn’t landed it yet — perhaps because she hasn’t been approved by the film’s studio, Dreamworks.
Foxx told me he’s clearly in Fantasia’s court. “Man, we are really pulling for her,” he said. “[The filmmakers] keep telling me not to say anything, but I’m pulling for it. I got my fingers crossed.” So do I — Fantasia’s fantastic.
I leave "Jarhead" now to move on to two other candid star moments. My favorite mistake in this week’s Sheryl Crow concert at New York’s Lincoln Center was when she forgot the lyrics to “My Favorite Mistake.”
She was forced to stop the song and start over, but not before confessing that her mind was distracted, wondering whether her parents had gotten their tickets and found their seats.
“New York is a big city, after all,” she said (although you’d think fiancé Lance Armstrong would have helped out with the in-laws — he was backstage and came out at one point to hand Sheryl her guitar).
And I close with this from Sir Roger Moore, whom I spotted at a U.N. event. When asked what advice he’d give to actor Daniel Craig, recently hired as the new James Bond, Moore replied, “Just get your paycheck upfront.”