Interview with Film, Television, and Theater Actor Matt K. Miller

Like many actors, Matt K. Miller had to wait eight years for his deleted scene in Gods and Generals to be seen by the general public. Though he appears for only a few moments, his performance, like all other roles in the film, are pieces to a giant puzzle, and really help to show how a film is made and edited. The case can be for any movie that you have seen both a theatrical and director’s cut of, because Miller’s scene (video below), as Union General Charles Griffin, fits right in the middle of the battle of Fredericksburg, as his soldiers, Ames’ and Chamberlain’s 20th Maine, prepare to march to the front.

Matt had actually contacted me with a question and to tell me he liked my site, and though I was not able to help him, he still agreed to do an interview with me. Aside from G & G, he has supplied the voice for characters in many cartoons and video games, including the Final Fantasy series, as well as the film Henry X, which was also released in 2003. Below is our interview (notice how I always have to ask about the facial hair, when relevant!):

GC: What did you do to prepare for your role as General Charles Griffin? Was your mustache real?

MM: To prepare, I researched General Charles Griffin and learned about his career in the military and his life.  Also, I went to a stable and rented a horse to refresh my riding skills. The mustache is real—they called about the film in August and told me not to shave or cut my hair until my shoot dates in November, so by the time I arrived on set, I looked like a homeless guy.  They shaved everything but the mustache, then dyed it all black.

GC: Can you describe your filming experiences and what it was like working for Ron Maxwell?

MM: Ron is a great guy to work with, very appreciative of actors and their process.  He made it a very comfortable and pleasant shoot, even with the challenges of the weather and all.

GC: After waiting eight years for your scene to go back into the cut, what was it like finally seeing it?

MM: Seeing my scene brought back a lot of memories.  And it was gratifying to finally see my work on screen.

GC: Did you have any interest in the Civil War before you appeared in this film?

MM: I had no more than a passing interest in the Civil War prior to shooting, however the Ken Burns documentary deeply affected me at the time of its premiere.

GC: Do you have any upcoming film or television projects?

MM: I do primarily theater now, so no TV or film projects pending.  But for any fans in the Northern California area, I appear regularly at the Sacramento Theatre Company, as well as other theaters in region.

I would like to thank Matt for taking the time to conduct this interview, and also wish him well in all of his future endeavors!

Shout-Outs from Two “Gods and Generals” Cast Members

When Ron Maxwell told me that the cast of Gods and Generals knew who I was, I guess he was not kidding around. This afternoon, I received two emails, almost back to back, from two cast members of the film, each telling me that they liked my site. The first, was Matt K. Miller, who portrayed Union General Charles Griffin, whose scene appears in the middle of the battle of Fredericksburg. Like many others, his was cut from the original theatrical version before it was restored in the newly released Extended Director’s Cut (you can view it here). The second shout-out comes from the most talked-about addition to the film, and that is Chris Conner and his performance as John Wilkes Booth. This was the email I received from him, and I must say, it was a pleasant surprise to find in my inbox after sitting outside baking in the sun during an uneventful yard sale this afternoon:

Hello Mr. Caggiano,

I was pointed in the direction of your blog and just wanted to say thanks for the shout-out. I thought my work as John Wilkes Booth would remain unseen. Glad you seemed to like it. I Enjoyed your blog.

Thanks Again,

Chris Conner

The shout-out on my part that he is referring to is the article I wrote on July 10, about his performance and the importance of his character to the new cut. For an opinion essay that was more spur-of-the-moment than planned, it seems that it has been the most widely read amongst the actors and crew-members I have talked to, including Maxwell himself, who told me personally that he enjoyed it. In addition to this nice email, Chris has agreed to let me interview him, and I will be emailing my questions shortly. I have also asked Matt for an interview, but depending on how busy he is, I cannot say whether or not it will happen.

It is the little things like this that keep us bloggers going. Sure, attending the premiere was a fantastic and once in a lifetime experience that I will be eternally grateful to all those that made it happen, but to actually get feedback on something we have written, by who it was actually written about, that is what we love. It looks like the Gods and Generals coverage just does not want to end here on this blog, and so I will continue to welcome all of these opportunities as they come along.

EDIT (7/21 @ 5:00 PM): Matt has also agreed to do an interview, and I will be sending him my questions shortly.

“G & G” Countdown: Something I Noticed, and an Email From Patrick Gorman

It’s the Little Things that Count

Originally, I was going to mention this in the review, but forgot all about it when I became immersed in trying to transcribe six pages of notes into something legible. I had mentioned that the film flows a lot better, and that the characters who were so high and mighty in the theatrical cut are now a little more human, almost someone you would want to have a beer with. But now, the film has become a lot more accessible to fans who might not be die-hard Civil War buffs, by the insertion of two small pieces of dialogue that went unnoticed by me the first time—I wonder if you picked up on it.

In one of the instances, you can even see, err…hear for yourself, because it is present in one of the deleted scenes that has been released. As the 20th Maine is marching into Fredericksburg, Colonels Ames and Chamberlain are confronted by Charles Griffin, their superior officer. If you listen closely, as the men get near each other, someone says, “General Griffin, sir.” However, the voice does not belong to any of those three characters. It is my guess that this was overdubbed into the dialogue so that the audience would know what general it is, because, to be honest, even after all the years I have studied the Civil War, I would not have known that man was General Griffin. The first time something like this happens is during the battle of Antietam, when McClellan rides over to talk to Hancock. The very same voice says, “General McClellan, sir.” Just understand that this is not something I like or dislike; it is just something small I noticed.

An Email from Patrick Gorman

Nearly two months ago, I had the chance to interview Patrick Gorman, who played General John Bell Hood in both Gods and Generals and Gettysburg. It was a fantastic conversation and we talked for almost an hour. Two nights ago, I decided to email him the link to my review, and also let him know that he had a scene coming in. Last night, he responded with this:

“Your review was obviously a work of love.  One can tell your affection for the material and for the work itself.  Thank you for that.  You really know the film and it has to be helpful to those who haven’t seen it as well as those who have.  I look forward to the experience.  I’ve never seen my Antietam scene at all.  I’m so glad they got the Booth and Harrison stuff in, too.  Sounds like they made changes I would have made regarding the religious stuff.  The cuts sound right.  You can’t or shouldn’t do away with that focus on Jackson but it was hard to take, for me anyway.  Sounds like a better balance has been achieved.  Good work.”

It really means a lot to me that he wrote that, and I cannot tell you how lucky I am to have been able to talk to people like him, Brian Mallon, and Bo Brinkman, actors I grew up watching in my favorite films. Patrick also lived up to his promise to send me an autograph, including a picture I took of him myself at the 138th reenactment of Gettysburg, that he wanted me to send to him. Of course I sent him that, along with another one for him to keep. Below is what he sent me:

We are now only nine days away! How excited are you?

Four New Scenes from “Gettysburg” and “Gods and Generals” Released

Thanks again to a reader named Blake, I can now show you four more clips that have been released by Warner Brothers, two from Gettysburg and two from Gods and Generals. They are very short, but it is still better than nothing. In a way, I do not even want to see a sneak peak of the Antietam scenes, because I don’t want to ruin it—I have waited eight years and figure I can stand to wait another twenty days. Click on the pictures to view video.

Gods and Generals

The Union band at Camp Mason

The 20th Maine is being recruited as a newly formed band is playing. Colonel Adelbert Ames (Matt Letscher) walks towards them, looking little more than peeved at the awful sound coming from the band. He then yells at them to, “Stop that damn drumming!”

The 20th Maine at Fredericksburg

The regiment is marching through the town on their way to the front, when Ames and Chamberlain (Jeff Daniels) are confronted by their commanding officer, Charles Griffin (a new character added to the film, played by Matt Miller). He then tells them, “They drove my first brigade to hell”, signaling that they are next. There is also a shot of a Union hospital at the beginning.

Gettysburg

Buford’s Cavalry Enters the Town

This is a fantastic scene that encompasses so much, where John Buford’s (Sam Elliot) cavalry rides into Gettysburg, where they are confronted by townspeople who can’t believe that the war has come that far north. When asked how serious the situation is, Colonel Devin (David Carpenter) remarks, “Nothing the cavalry can’t handle.” But the best line is spoken by Buford at the end.

Longstreet and Freemantle on July 2nd

I’ve always loved the scenes with the British character of Arthur Freemantle (James Lancaster), and his discussions with James Longstreet (Tom Berenger). They always turn the movie from rough and rugged to a bit debonaire, by adding a touch of class. Here, the two are discussing military tactics.