Vodka martinis [laughs]. No, it's all about the material that comes in front of you. I know that sounds like an over-simplification but there's a gut, visceral reaction that comes over you when you read something. I committed to "Gladiator" based on a painting. It's all to do with the material, you get a closure which is saying "I know what to do with that" and that's it. There's no thesis to it, it's a purely emotional reaction you have to it.
Was it difficult juggling so many characters in this confused battlefield environment?
I didn't actually count them but there were something like 30 speaking parts which all mean something in the process of telling this story. It was really a very complicated jigsaw puzzle, and when I was reading the book I had to use a crib sheet to work out who the hell was who. As we got into the process of refining the script by distilling who meant what, that was actually the hardest part.
Did the fact that the story recreates such recent historical events from 1993 make you hesitate about taking on the film?
I think the fact it's about recent history is very important, especially since it was an event perceived in American military history as being quite remarkable. A fire-fight is considered long if it lasts 15 minutes, but this was 18 and a half hours of relentless procedure on both sides.