如果Jim Caviezel对他人生中的大起大落避而不谈，这是有原因的。毕竟，这位30岁的演员成功在Terrence Malick的二战史诗级巨作——《细细的红线》中登场。而这部电影无疑是本年度最受瞩目而又引人思考的作品之一。虽然如此，很难说Jim浑身散发出的邻家大男孩般特有的慌乱和羞涩，是不是因为突如其来的万众瞩目。聚光灯不仅聚焦在他的明星身份上，亦或是因为他的表演在这部被剪得七零八落的片子中占得了一席之地。
“很多人说，我们可以找Brad Pitt来演，可以找Matthew McConaughey来演，可以找Johnny Depp来演……可最终却找了Caviezel，这个人们连名字都念不利索的男人。于是，我告诉Malick先生，你可以问问，刚开始看到Schwarzenegger（施瓦辛格）的名字时，他们能读顺吗。我敢打赌，在看到他带来几百万的收益后，没有谁不会念这个名字。”
身着碎呢毛衣，谦恭与善谈也巧妙地融合在他的身上，Caviezel看起来周身闪耀着主角的光环。至少在《细细的红线》中他确实是主角，虽然他能获得这样的机会更多是靠运气。福克斯公司最初的宣传计划是以新人Adrien Brody为中心展开的，他也是原剧本中的核心人物，然而，在最终的剪辑后，他的戏份却所剩无几。（被从这部拥有几百万英尺的录影带中彻底剪掉的人还有Gary Oldman,，Bill Pullman，Lukas Haas和旁白Billy Thornton；影星John Travolta和 George Clooney得以幸存，但也总共只在荧幕上出现了不到6分钟。）
然而，Caviezel的事业不久后便有了突破，在Gus Van Sant的电影《不羁的天空》中扮演了一个小小的意大利值机员。他靠糊弄那里的选角导演，使他们相信他是刚移民过来的意大利人获得了这个角色。在成功加入美国演员工会的之后，他和妻子Kerri一起搬到了加利福尼亚州（这对夫妻目前居住在洛杉矶和芒特弗农），在一些不温不火的小电影，比如《英雄本诈》，《义海倾情》，还有Matt Le Blanc以猩猩为主角的电影《王牌猩手》中，出演一些小配角。Caviezel坦白，他觉得当时自己的事业毫无进展。“当我眺望我的人生轨迹时，却没有目标，无所适从。那段时间，我正考虑放弃表演，重回学校去学做一个指压按摩师，就像我父亲一样。不过幸运的是，也正是那时，我接到了Terrence Malick的电话。”
本次访谈由Steve Goldman负责，刊登于This is London，1999年2月23日。
The battle of Guadalcanal：瓜达康纳尔岛之战。1942年8月7日至1943年2月9日期间，以美国为首的盟军在二战太平洋战争中于瓜达康纳尔岛和周围岛屿对日本发动的战役。
20th Century Fox：福克斯公司。《细细的红线》的制作公司。
Interview with Jim Caviezel Leading The Thin Red Line
If Jim Caviezel carries the translucent shroud of shell-shock about him, it’s with good cause. The 30-year-old actor is, after all, a survivor of Terrence Malick’s Second World War epic, The Thin Red Line—easily one of the most anticipated and perplexing films of the year. Still, it’s hard to say if Caviezel’s aw’-shucks farm-boy bewilderment is due to the sudden spotlight which surrounds his de facto stardom or the fact that his performance somehow managed to survive one of the messiest cutting-room floors in recent memory.
“My whole thing was to do the best I could”, says the man himself, a virtual unknown outside casting circles until hand-picked by Malick for the central role of Private Witt—an AWOL grunt who returns to his unit for the battle of Guadalcanal. “There were many voices who said, ‘We could get Brad Pitt. We could get Matthew McConaughey. We could get Johnny Depp … Caviezel—we can’t even pronounce the name’. Well, I told Mr Malick, ‘You ask them if, when they first saw it, they could pronounce the name Schwarzenegger—I certainly bet they were able to do it after a few million dollars’”.
In short order, Hollywood has learned to pronounce the name (it’s of Swiss origin and sadly rhymes with “weasel”). All it took was [sic] rave reviews and a million-dollar-plus opening in the US, despite a release initially limited to a scant seven theatres. And so, all of a sudden, Hollywood has come to court an actor often dismissed in the past.
Dressed in a rag-wool sweater and sporting the requisite blend of humility and braggadocio, Caviezel certainly looks as if he’s the new male lead. The fact that he is, in The Thin Red Line at least, is down to pure luck. Initially 20th Century Fox decided to build an early publicity campaign around newcomer Adrien Brody, who was central to the original screenplay, only to discover that his performance was largely excised from the final cut. (Among the other amputees from the million feet of footage: Gary Oldman, Bill Pullman, Lukas Haas and a voiceover narration by Billy Thornton; stars John Travolta and George Clooney survive, but enjoy less than six minutes of screen time combined.)
“I was so focused on the job at hand that I never thought beyond filming”, says Caviezel, who spent 127 days on a shoot which moved from Daintree Rainforest in northern Australia to the Solomon Islands. “Every day I would say, ‘Today is the last day of the rest of my life … this hour, this moment, this scene right here’. So I never thought I’d be sitting here in front of you. Never conceived it … I had simply promised the man who had given me the opportunity that I would give it all I had. And I knew what a responsibility it was”.
A Catholic schoolboy from rural Mount Vernon in Washington State, Caviezel describes himself as a “shy kid” who developed a taste for mimicry at an early age and, soon after, the stage. “I would do Eddie Murphy, just about anyone to get a laugh. But then when I started doing plays in school, things began to change. All the nuns and teachers would come up afterwards and tell me I just had to go into acting. Of course there were two things I didn’t want to be back then, namely an actor or a priest. I mean, if I had my choice, I would have been a basketball player”.
Caviezel, nevertheless, soon made his break from hoops to acting with a bit part as an Italian ticket agent in Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho—securing the role only after fooling local casting agents into believing he was a recent Italian immigrant. With a Screen Actors’ Guild card in hand, he moved to California with his wife Kerri (the couple now divide their time between LA and Mount Vernon), landing minor roles in lacklustre films like Diggstown, Wyatt Earp and Matt Le Blanc’s monkey movie, Ed. To put it bluntly, Caviezel found himself going nowhere fast. “I was looking ahead through my life, where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. It was around that time I started thinking about going back to school to become a chiropractor, like my father. Fortunately it was around that time that I also got the call from Terrence Malick.
“I grabbed the phone and tears started coming out of my eyes,” says Caviezel when asked about the summons from the maverick director of Badlands and Days of Heaven. “I told him that whatever he needed me to do, I had the confidence to do it. That I’d be there for him”.
And in the end, it was Malick—returning with his first movie in 20 years—who remained faithful to Caviezel’s performance. “Towards the end of filming, I’d get calls from my agent about new projects casting out of [20th Century] Fox. But they needed to see this film first and I didn’t know who was going to be cut out. I could have been cut out, for all I knew … I just happened to be fortunate that I ended up in the situation I’m in right now.”
Whether The Thin Red Line can ignite Caviezel’s career as Malick’s Days of Heaven did for Richard Gere remains to be seen. But the formerly struggling actor will make dramatic inroads in the months ahead with Ang Lee’s US Civil War drama, Ride With the Devil, and the American football pic, Any Given Sunday, which he is currently filming with Oliver Stone. The roles are notably supporting ones in ensemble films which may not give Caviezel the break-out he deserves. No matter, as far as the actor is concerned. “After being involved with a project like this”, he says, “what could you possibly do to top it?”
This interview by Steve Goldman appeared in This is London on February 23, 1999. Copyright, Associated Newspapers, Limited. All Rights Reserved.