Since taking a bit part as Card Player No.2 in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", Sam Elliott has worked steadily in cinema. In recent years he's been a mysterious stranger in the Coen Brothers' "The Big Lebowski", and a gruff Sergeant Major in war drama "We Were Soldiers". In Ang Lee's "Hulk", he plays another hardnosed military man.
You seem really thrilled to be a part of this film?
I am. That's a perfect way to put it. The opportunity, number one, to work with Ang Lee is an amazing thing for me. You've got a great cast. You've got the best writing and production people in the business on this thing, the best technical people in the business. Anything you can think of in regard to this film is the top of the game, so I am very proud to be a part of it.
Talk us through the dynamics of the relationship with your onscreen daughter, Jennifer Connelly...
It's the human dynamic that, to me, elevates this thing so far above the norm; the relationship between me and my daughter. I'm a four star general in this thing, and you don't rise to the ranks of a four star general by hanging about the house being the perfect dad. So there's a bit of a rub going on here and the fact that my daughter is in love with the Hulk's human form, the Bruce Banner character, is another great source of frustration and conflict. It's interesting stuff to play.
What unique quality do you think Ang Lee has brought to "Hulk"?
When I first met Ang, he talked about the Hulk that resides in all of us. The potential for it anyway. You know, the dark side that most of us successfully keep at bay for most of the time in our lives, and which perhaps sneaks out occasionally.
And I think, again, it's the humanity. I think Ang brought a certain amount of humanity to the Hulk that nobody ever expected would come off the screen here. Ang had this vision in his head. All of it. He had the clarity and the specificity where he just got it. He got that vision that was in his head on that screen. This is a cut above the normal comic book movies. This takes the comic book element to a whole other level.
There's a lot of discussion about the merits of having a totally computer generated Hulk. What's your view on it?
It works totally. The one question you've got nagging in the back of your head the whole time is that if the green guy doesn't work, the movie isn't going to work. But when I saw the film, it works. It works incredibly well.