March 10, 2009Chicago Tribune
Gary Sinise fumes.
As we talk and tour the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in the South Loop, Sinise's gravel-and-coffee-grounds growl picks up momentum and passion. At one point, he's hard to interrupt to ask a question as his voice succumbs to infuriated frustration. Especially when talking about director Brian De Palma.
Listen: "He was out to get the troops, to depict them as child rapists. That's the truth he wanted to tell. That's one particular, horrible episode that happened by, clearly, some criminals who happen to be in the American military."
But we're jumping ahead of the conversation.
On this day Sinise is in Chicago promoting "Brothers at War," which opens Friday. He served as executive producer on the documentary, in which director Jake Rademacher follows two of his younger brothers, both soldiers, to their theaters of war in Iraq.
"This movie is not going to be your typical blood-and-guts, negative, depressing thing about Iraq," Sinise says. "What's great about this film is there's a personal investment, because the filmmaker is making it about his family."
Sinise has picked the venue for our conversation. "We've got a little history here," he tells me.
In 2003 it was here, on the third floor, that Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band first entertained troops. The band, a musical side project for the actor, is named for his most famous role, Lt. Dan Taylor in "Forrest Gump." Sinise has been doing USO tours in Iraq and fundraising events ever since, playing bass at 30-some dates a year, in addition to his gig as Mac Taylor in "CSI: New York."
"I have a profound respect for people who serve," Sinise says as we walk through an exhibit of Iraq photographs by female soldiers.
Sinise is polite, but forceful -- he's a vehement defender of the military, he says, with a point of view that often goes ignored.
"Brothers at War" represents a natural evolution in Sinise's crusade to bring attention to the men and women in the armed forces.
The film also reflects a national trend, with more Iraq movies ("In the Valley of Elah," "The Lucky Ones") and documentaries ("The War Tapes," "Gunner Palace") being produced than during any other war.
"It's unusual that there would be so many films about a current conflict," Sinise says. "Quite often it's in retrospect." (READ MORE)