We caught up with Arturo Castro, Beau Knapp and Ismael Cruz Córdova at the New York Film Festival world premiere of Ang Lee’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” at AMC Lincoln Square.
The film is told from the point of view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, becomes a hero after a harrowing Iraq battle and is brought home temporarily for a victory tour.
Ismael Cruz Córdova
Congratulations! Tell me about the role you play.
I play Sergeant Antonio Holiday, he’s the youngest of the higher command sergeants in the Bravo Company, but the oldest of the Bravos. It’s like a older brother kind of situation happening. He’s an enforcer, but at the same time he’s a bit more lax than the other sergeant, who is played by Garrett Hedlund. He’s Sergeant Dime.
Speaking about collaborating with the legendary Ang Lee.
What can I say, he has given me a template on what it is to be a leader, a person that is so masterful, seeing how he brings in artists of the same caliber as he is and he does not try to change what they do, but he gives them a full reign to do what they do best, and that includes actors. That is how he treats you. He treats you as an artist, and as a person who is completely and fully capable of doing your job at a high level in order to bring to life this story. I can go on and on and on!
Tell me about your role in the movie?
I play a soldier named Mango Montoya, he’s a sarcastic dude and yeah I’m part of the group of bravos and when we come back from war we have to deal with the everyday happenstances of being human, being a person in a synthetic world again.
Can you tell me about the physical preparation you did?
Yeah, at boot camp, we were immersed in boot camp with navy seals for two weeks. We were cut off from phones and we were just there holding guard at night. They taught us a lot about the philosophy of what it means to serve. I think we all left that boot camp different and better people and definitely, definitely more respectful individuals.
This film uses some advanced technology, how has that integrated or did it make you more aware as an actor?
Well it was so intimate and because of this new technology it was so clear that it really seeps into your soul so there is no lying involved. I think afterwards we just became better actors because of it but yeah it was definitely scary. The technology it looks exactly like a normal camera would but just a bigger camera. What was different was the direction. Most actors we tend to go big sometimes but with this we had to have really quiet honest performances. That was really the difference on it.
Because the camera is right in your face?
It’s right in your face and it’s also of super clear camera so there’s no hiding from it really.
This is Joe’s big acting debut, what was it like to support him?
Joe is not just an incredible actor, but a solid human being. I think he was definitely a voice of reason and a voice of leadership in boot camp and he continued throughout. I really don’t know how he did it and seeing him every day take on this role was just an inspiration for the rest of us.
Tell me a little bit about the role you play in this one?
I played Crack. He’s the troublemaker of the crew, he’s from Alabama. He’s very rowdy but he’s a soldier and I think that people can connect to this character in many ways.
How has collaborating with Ang who is such a legend?
It was amazing, it’s just a once in a lifetime experience and it was just exactly, a once in a lifetime, it was very, very humbling.
What do you hope people take away from the movie?
Just that people can see the emotional side of war and of boys becoming men and just humanity.