From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

Veteran actor of stage, screen and TV and former US Navy sailor James Tolkan has spent a career playing the hard man. He is known to audiences around the world for his performances in Back to the Future, Top Gun and Problem Child 2, and many more films and TV shows for playing his no-nonsense style of characters, who seem to come from an organic place in his soul. The characters are tough but fair, and have a sense of dignity in them. Tolkan spent a lot of his time on stage in NYC before moving to Hollywood. Most recently, Tolkan worked on the Discovery Channel show Expedition Back to the Future. WATM sat down with Tolkan to learn more about his life, his time in service and what made him become an actor. 

Tolkan’s youth was “very difficult” with his father having spent a lot of time in jail. Tolkan lived in Michigan before his family moved to Chicago. After his parents split when he was 14-years-old, Tolkan lived alone in a basement. “I got up at 5 in the morning to clean a restaurant,” he shared. “I was very unhappy. I was running with a gang and quit school at 15. I lied about my age and got a job with the Chicago Northwestern Railroad with a pick and shovel, which I hated.” His family moved to Tucson the next year and his whole life changed for the better. 

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Tolkan as “Mr. Strickland” with Michael J. Fox and Claudia Wells in Back to the Future. Photo courtesy of necomicons.com.

Tolkan was on a football scholarship at Eastern Arizona College and he got to play a lot of football. He put his name on a list to join the Navy – it was during the Korean War – and Tolkan was competing as an undefeated boxer in the Golden Gloves when he got the call. Tolkan completed boot camp in San Diego. He recalled, “When I went into the Navy, I was in better shape going into boot camp than at the end.” He volunteered for boxing while in the Navy and after his fellow sailors saw him in the ring, he never stood a “midwatch” (midnight to 4am shift) again. Tolkan explained with a laugh, “I was treated royally.”

Tolkan signed up for four years in the Navy and he ran a chow line in San Diego for troops in training and then was set to sail with the USS Sandoval APA-194.  He was sent to Oakland to prepare for ship duty. Tolkan came down with a severe and unknown illness and was sent to the Oakland Naval Hospital. The Navy found an issue with his heart and within a year he was discharged from the service for medical reasons. He shared, “I could have seen the Navy as a career until I got sick….anyway it all worked out.”

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

Tolkan (center) with Anthony Edwards (left) and Tom Cruise (right) in Top Gun. Photo courtesy of necomiccons.com.

Tolkan holds onto his experiences in the Navy and he felt like a “very special individual” just having gone to boot camp. He is proud of his service overall. 

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Tolkan as “Stinger” in Top Gun. Photo courtesy of Amazon.com.

After his time in the Navy, Tolkan said he floundered around. He did reconnect with his father, having not seen him in seven years. Tolkan spent time in Iowa driving a cattle truck and moving cows all over the country. He shared, “I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was very lost.” He went back to school on the GI Bill at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA. At Coe, he majored in art and minored in music which is when he got interested in acting. He spent two years at Coe and then transferred to the University of Iowa for their large theater department. Tolkan was the big man in the theater department there. 

After six years in college, Tolkan got on a Greyhound bus with $75 in his pocket to go to NYC to be an actor. He said, “I was scared to death and didn’t know what I was getting into, but I did it. It was really terrific. You have to learn to just really go for it.” 

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

Tolkan in Sidney Lumet’s Prince of the City. Photo courtesy of TJ Breaton.

Tolkan shared, “I am most happy working in the theater. That is where I am most comfortable. The last play I did on Broadway was David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross.” The first play he did on Broadway was a play titled Wait Until Dark. Tolkan played a psychotic killer in the play across from actress Lee Remick and the play ran for two years.

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

Tolkan with Val Avery in The Amityville Horror. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.

“As a New York actor I said, ‘I am never going to Hollywood til they send for me.’ And when Robert Zemeckis called me to do Back to the Future I said, ‘Ok, this is my chance to go out there and see what’s going on.’ So, I went out and did Back to the Future and Top Gun and I stayed out there for 10 years.” 

He didn’t like working in the movies “by and large.” He shared about his highlights in film, “…with Back to the Future, it was a very small movie — nobody knew it was going to be an enormous thing, but with Top Gun we all knew it was going to be big all the way through. So, I was very confident in Top Gun where Back to the Future was a huge surprise.” He shared about movies, “My favorites are with Sidney Lumet. The great director Sidney Lumet. I did three movies with him, Serpico, Prince of the City and Family Business.” Tolkan recalled his work with Lumet and reflected on the leadership shown by the award-winning director. “I think of Sidney Lumet, he was so disciplined, so brilliant…you would want to emulate him…to work with him was a privilege, he made it a pleasure.”

He describes his experience with director Tony Scott on Top Gun as loose when compared to working with Lumet. Scott would have them do improv scenes, not on the board for the day. He enjoyed working with Scott, it was just different than what Tolkan had experience with. He said, “Tom Cruise was most impressive. I knew he was going to be great right from the beginning.” Tolkan talks of his time on Back to the Future — “Michael J. Fox is the easiest actor I have ever worked with. He is so talented and loose. That movie is still going strong (and that) was 35 years ago.” He enjoyed his experience on WarGames and he joked, “…that was very early in my career…I wasn’t even paid very much, but things changed a little later.” 

Tolkan’s filmography is impressive and his prowess has made him a household name. But when asked what he’s most proud of, his answer is fairly simple: “The fact that I made it through. That I am here living the good life and I survived. That is what I am most proud of. It is not easy…I give thanks every day.”

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

Tolkan in Woody Allen’s Love and Death as Napoleon Bonaparte. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

Tolkan with Dolph Lundgren (right) and Chelsea Field (left) in Masters of the Universe. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

Tolkan with Diane Keaton in Love and Death. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.

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Tolkan with Crispin Glover in Back to the Future. Photo courtesy of IMD

Articles

Gene Hackman’s response on why he joined the Marines is TV gold

“I couldn’t get laid.”


That’s the reason actor Gene Hackman gave to former late-night talk show host David Letterman as an explanation for why he joined the Marine Corps.

At the young age of 16, Hackman dropped out of high school and used his acting ability to convince his way into enlisting in the Marine Corps.

In 1947, the acclaimed actor completed boot camp and was quickly sent off to serve in China as a field radio operator. Hackman also spent time serving in Hawaii and Japan.

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all
Young Marine Cpl. Gene Hackman. (Source: Pinterest)

Related: 70+ celebrities who were in the military

During his time in the Corps, Hackman was demoted three times for leaving his post without proper authorization.

After Hackman had been discharged, the San Bernardino native went on to study journalism and TV production at the University of Illinois. By 30, he had broken into a successful acting career and would be nominated for five Academy Awards and winning two for his roles in “The French Connection” and “Unforgiven.”

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

Hackman is credited with approximately 100 film and TV roles and is currently retired from acting.

Also Read: Here’s how Hollywood turns actors into military operators

Check out Zschim‘s channel to watch Gene Hackman’s epic response to TV show host David Letterman’s question for yourself starting at 29:10.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Z5onX0SQME
(Zschim, YouTube)
Articles

World War II Combat Cameraman and Hollywood animation legend dies

He is widely known as a Hollywood animation legend who worked at the studios that created Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse. But Hal Geer also flew 86 combat missions as a combat cameraman in World War II.


From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all
B-24 Liberators over Ploesti on Aug. 1, 1943. (U.S. Army photo)

According to a report by the Hollywood Reporter, Geer died Jan. 26 at the age of 100. According to IMDB, his credits included the movies “Daffy Duck: Fantastic Island,” “Bugs Bunny: All-American Hero,” and “The Bugs Bunny Mystery Special” as well as over twenty short cartoons.

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all
Nose art Hal Geer would have loved. Bugs Bunny nose art from an FB-111 with the 380th Bombardment Wing. In World War II, the 380th used B-24 Liberators, and Geer worked on a number of cartoons featuring the wascally wabbit. (USAF photo)

Geer’s World War II service took him over the China-Burma-India Theater, flying in Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bombers and North American B-25 medium bombers assigned to the 14th Air Force under Major General Claire Chennault, who founded the legendary Flying Tigers of the American Volunteer Group.

According to a 2007 report in the Ventura County Recorder, Geer made the documentary film “China Crisis” while serving. Geer told the Recorder that this World War II film was the one he was the most proud of.

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

In a 2005 interview with China Youth Daily, Geer discussed more about his time with the 14th Air Force. “China Crisis” discussed how the United States supported the 14th Air Force, getting supplies over what was called “The Hump.”

Today, it’s better known as the Himalaya Mountains. The film also covered the Japanese Army’s 1944 offensive in China (which doesn’t get as much press when compared to how America advanced in the Pacific that year). Thirteen combat cameramen shot over 300 hours of footage to make a film that was less than an hour long. Five cameramen were killed in action.

“China Crisis” had been slated to be shown along as part of a 1946 War Bonds drive. That drive would not take place, as Japan surrendered in August 1945 after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Perhaps, someday, DOD will find a way to make that film, and many others, available online for Americans to view.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Why ‘Saving Private Ryan’ captured the dark side of war

2018 marks the 20th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, an iconic film that remains one of the most honest depictions of war.


“It was a mentally demoralizing experience for us,” Spielberg told film critic Roger Ebert. Nevertheless, it was important for the director “to show America the dark side of the face of war.”

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all
Director Steven Spielberg on set during the filming of ‘Saving Private Ryan.’
(Photo by DreamWorks Studios and Paramount Pictures)

Spielberg made many deliberate decisions to ensure the authenticity and the truth of war portrayed in this film, and the behind-the-scenes footage is riveting. The D-Day invasion scene took over two weeks to shoot and involved thousands of extras — including Irish Army reservists and real amputees.

Even the camera movements and lenses were all designed to follow the movement of combat and obscure the viewer’s vision, replicating the chaos and confusion of battle. Spielberg shot the film chronologically, which is an unusual choice for filmmakers.

“We shot in continuity, from beginning to end. We were all reliving the story together…but I didn’t realize how devastating that was going to be for the whole cast to actually start off with Omaha Beach and survive that as a film team, and then move into the hedgerows, move into the next town, as we all began to get whittled down by the storytelling.”

It was important for Spielberg to honor those who fought in World War II. “I think it is the key — the turning point of the entire century. World War II allowed my generation to exist.” His own father, Arnold Spielberg, enlisted in the U.S. Army after the attacks against Pearl Harbor.

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all
Behind-the-scenes image of Tom Hanks in the iconic D-Day invasion scene of ‘Saving Private Ryan.’
(Photo by DreamWorks Studios and Paramount Pictures)

Saving Private Ryan perfectly balanced the inhumanity of war with the very-human warfighters, and continues to be one of the most celebrated films of all time.

To honor the 20th anniversary, the film is now available on 4K UltraHD™ as well as Blu-Ray™ and Digital. Check out the video below for a deeper look at how it was made:

Articles

Gary Sinise supports vets by walking the walk and rocking the rock

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all
Lt. Dan Band featuring Gary Sinise on bass guitar. (Photo: Gary Sinise Foundation)


“Going to the war zones and visiting the troops . . . and being able to pat them on the back and support them . . . has been a great joy, a great personal reward because you can see that you’re providing a service for somebody who’s providing a service for us, and it’s lifting them us in some way,” Gary Sinise says. “I make my living as an actor and all of this is simply something I do with the resources . . . and time that I have.”

Sinise started working with working with wounded warriors primarily as a function of his portrayal of Lt. Dan in the movie “Forrest Gump,” a vet who lost both legs during the Vietnam War. “That movie came out in ’92,” Sinise explains. “Then we had September 11, that terrible event, and we started responding to that in Iraq and Afghanistan — deploying to those places — and our people started getting hurt. And we had this whole new generation of Lt. Dans coming back from those wars. I wanted to very much get behind them and support them in some way.”

That desire wound up manifesting itself in myriad ways including the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Lt. Dan Band, which got its name from the fact all the troops were calling Sinise “Lt. Dan” when he’d visit them in theater.

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

Sinise pushes back on the idea that he’s living out some sort of rock n’ roll fantasy at midlife by playing bass guitar in a touring rock band, pointing out that he was a rocker in high school, which is, ironically, the thing that got him into acting. “I was standing in a hallway with the band members and we were looking kind of raggedy, sort of grubby band guys, you know. And the drama teacher walked by, and she told us to audition for ‘West Side Story’ because we looked like gang members. Two of us ended up going, and I got in the play.”

The Sinise family has military heritage, most notably that of his uncle Jack who was a navigator aboard a B-17 in World War II. Sinise arranged for Jack to have a ride in a vintage B-17 almost 70 years after his final war sortie in 1945, and the event was made into a short documentary that premiered at the GI Film Festival a few years ago.

Watch Gary Sinese talk to actor and Navy veteran Jamie Kaler about his support of wounded vets and the Lt. Dan Band:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/164658974

Don’t miss Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band as they kick off the 10th annual GI Film Festival in Washington DC on May 21. Check out more information and get your tickets here.

MIGHTY MOVIES

This new Apple TV show is for fans of ‘The Man in the High Castle’

“The Soviet cosmonaut has become the first to set foot on the moon.”

For All Mankind introduces the stakes right away — and they hit hard for anyone familiar with the iconic moon landing of 1969 and what it meant to Americans.

It’s a seductive concept, as proven by Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, a dystopian show depicting an alternate history where the Axis powers won World War II. The first season begins in 1962. The United States is divided between the Nazis and the Japanese but our heroes discover a film tape that shows Germany losing the war.

(It’s actually a very cool show — you should watch it if you haven’t seen it.)

For those of you who are fans, you’ll want to check out For All Mankind, an upcoming series brought to you by the new streaming platform Apple TV+. The premise is simple: what if the Soviet Union were to win the space race of the Cold War?

First, here’s the trailer:


For All Mankind — Official First Look Trailer | Apple TV+

www.youtube.com

For All Mankind — Official First Look Trailer | Apple TV+

For All Mankind is created by Emmy® Award winner Ronald D. Moore (Outlander, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica) and Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi (Fargo, The Umbrella Academy). Told through the lives of NASA astronauts, engineers, and their families, For All Mankind presents an aspirational world where NASA and the space program “remained a priority and a focal point of our hopes and dreams.”

Also read: Here’s what America would be like if the Nazis and Japanese had won WW2

Now, there were a lot of zany ideas going on during the actual Space Race of the Cold War, which would be marked by the desire for each side to prove its superiority. Military might and nuclear capabilities were growing, wars between Communist and Capitalist countries were escalating, and space exploration was rising. When the Soviets successfully launched the world’s first satellite into Earth’s orbit, American urgency rose.

It ended well for the U.S. when Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. The glory was ours! Everyone could just calm down.

But…what if history had gone another way?

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

“Get back to work.”

“We thought it was just about being first. Turns out the stakes are much bigger than that,” announces a voice in the trailer.

For All Mankind explores building a base on the moon, which has water on it. “We’re going to Mars, Saturn, the stars, the galaxy.” The first look at the series gives weight to the Space Race in a new and imaginative way, including (to my immense relief), lady astronauts.

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

Here’s one way the Soviets actually did beat out the United States: Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space, whose mission Vostok 6 took place on June 16, 1963. The U.S. kept women out until Sally Ride’s first space flight on June 18, 1983. I’m biting my tongue here…

Props to For All Mankind for writing women into their alternate history in ways our own countrymen refused to do.

Also read: 6 amazing female military pioneers

Apple TV+ is “a new streaming service where the most creative minds in TV and film tell the kinds of stories only they can. Featuring original shows and movies across every genre, Apple TV+ is coming this fall. Exclusively on the Apple TV app.”

The platform has already announced series like See, which places Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard in a dystopian future where the survivors of a global virus are left blind; Amazing Stories, a Steven Spielberg-helmed fantasy anthology; and even an untitled Brie Larson CIA drama series.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Legendary songwriter, Army veteran John Prine dies from COVID-19

The world lost another great today, as legendary songwriter John Prine succumbed to complications from COVID-19, his family confirmed to Rolling Stone. Prine, 73, lost his battle with the novel coronavirus at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Prine was known for his innumerable talents but none better than his ability to tell the story of humanity through his words. Prine’s acclaim as one of America’s best songwriters has prompted a flood of tributes from celebrities and fans alike as they mourn an indescribable loss.

We’re heartbroken here. And all our love — each of us, the entire Belcourt community, our town — to Fiona and John’s family. We’ve loss a beautiful one.pic.twitter.com/SShyVQ2cC3

twitter.com

From gracing the Opry House stage for those memorable New Year’s Eve shows to other special Opry appearances including one alongside the StreelDrivers and Bill Murray, John Prine has touched our hearts with his music. We are thinking of his family and friends tonight. pic.twitter.com/FV3nIfT1kc

twitter.com

Oh John Prine, thank you for making me laugh and breaking my heart and sharing your boundless humanity. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This is one of the most gorgeous songs ever written. Bonnie Raitt John Prine – Angel From Montgomery https://youtu.be/1T5NuI6Ai-o  via @YouTube

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Prine was born in Maywood, Illinois. He was one of four sons of a homemaker and a union worker, who raised the boys to love music. Prine grew up on the likes of Hank Williams and other performers of the Grand Ole Opry, but it was really his father’s reaction to Williams’ music that touched Prine. “I used to just sit and watch how he would be so moved by the songs,” Prine said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “In fact, I might have been more affected by the way the songs touched him than by the songs themselves – they seemed to have such power.”

Prine graduated from high school in 1964 and started his career with the U.S. Postal Service as a mailman. Instead of focusing on the monotony of his day job, Prine used the time to write songs. But his career delivering mail was cut short when he was drafted in 1966 into the Army. The war in Vietnam was escalating, but Prine was sent to Germany where he served as a mechanical engineer. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Prine said his military career consisted largely of “drinking beer and pretending to fix trucks.”

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

After two years, Prine returned to the postal service and started writing songs until he became a regular on the Chicago music circuit.

While Prine’s discography is impressive, it was his song “Sam Stone” about a veteran struggling with addiction that resonated with millions of soldiers across the world. Maybe Prine really did just drink beer and fix trucks, but his haunting portrayal of Sam Stone will never be forgotten.

John Prine – Sam Stone

www.youtube.com

John Prine – Sam Stone

Lyrics:

Sam Stone came home,
To the wife and family
After serving in the conflict overseas.
And the time that he served,
Had shattered all his nerves,
And left a little shrapnel in his knees.
But the morhpine eased the pain,
And the grass grew round his brain,
And gave him all the confidence he lacked,
With a purple heart and a monkey on his back.There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes,
Jesus Christ died for nothin I suppose.
Little pitchers have big ears,
Don’t stop to count the years,
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.Sam Stone’s welcome home
Didn’t last too long.
He went to work when he’d spent his last dime
And soon he took to stealing
When he got that empty feeling
For a hundred dollar habit without overtime.
And the gold roared through his veins
Like a thousand railroad trains,
And eased his mind in the hours that he chose,
While the kids ran around wearin’ other peoples’ clothes…There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes,
Jesus Christ died for nothin I suppose.
Little pitchers have big ears,
Don’t stop to count the years,
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.Sam Stone was alone
When he popped his last balloon,
Climbing walls while sitting in a chair.
Well, he played his last request,
While the room smelled just like death,
With an overdose hovering in the air.
But life had lost it’s fun,
There was nothing to be done,
But trade his house that he bought on the GI bill,
For a flag-draped casket on a local hero’s hill.There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes,
Jesus Christ died for nothin I suppose.
Little pitchers have big ears,
Don’t stop to count the years,
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

Prine’s ability to tell a story through his words was truly second to none. In his memoir, “Cash,” Johnny Cash wrote, “I don’t listen to music much at the farm, unless I’m going into songwriting mode and looking for inspiration. Then I’ll put on something by the writers I’ve admired and used for years–Rodney Crowell, John Prine, Guy Clark, and the late Steve Goodman are my Big Four.” Rolling Stone referred to Prine as “the Mark Twain of American songwriting.”

Your death leaves a hole in our hearts, John Prine. Rest in peace, Sir.

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all
MIGHTY MOVIES

These veterans were given a chance to perform standup at Gotham Comedy Club

The Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP) is an organization based in Virginia that builds communities for veterans, service members, and military families through classes, performances, and partnerships in the arts. As part of their mission, ASAP offers a Comedy Bootcamp for veterans to explore and develop their comedic abilities. 
These three veterans are alumni of the Comedy Bootcamp program and have been given the unique opportunity to perform their standup routines at the Gotham Comedy Club in New York City. Backed by veteran headliners PJ Walsh and Dion Flynn, the alumni put on a great show for their New York audience and proudly represented the armed services on the big stage.


MIGHTY MOVIES

Kevin Nash says ‘Magic Mike XXL’ cast reminds him of his Army squad


Kevin Nash went to the University of Tennessee for one reason: to play basketball, and for three years that’s pretty much what he did. Nash played center, and as a junior he helped the team advance to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament. But one physical altercation with legendary coach Don Devoe later, he was gone. Who knew he would end up in Magic Mike?

Nash made his way to Europe to play professionally, but during a game in Germany he injured his anterior cruciate ligament, which immediately ended his basketball career. Out of any better ideas, he decided to try something he’d always wanted to do: He joined the Army.

After going through basic at Fort McClellan, Nash wound up assigned to the 202nd Military Police Company in Giessen, Germany and served in a secure NATO facility for two years.

“I enjoyed the life,” Nash said. “I was forced to be disciplined, and that was something I’d lacked to that point to a certain degree.”

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all
Nash hanging with Army buds in Germany circa ’82.

During his three years of military service, Kevin Nash rose to the rank of specialist.

“I liked it so much I thought about going to be a drill instructor,” he said. But ultimately he decided not to reenlist. Family matters – including his father’s failing health – took him back to his hometown of Detroit. After working on the assembly line at Ford Motor Company for a while, he decided to enter the world of professional wrestling.

Nash debuted in WCW as the orange-mohawked “Steel”, one half of the tag team known as the “Master Blasters.” His success right out of the gate was followed by more, adopting different personas and adjusting to changes in the organizations around him. He went from “Steel” to “Oz” to “Vinne Vegas” to “Diesel” before going back to his real name.

“The secret to being a pro wrestler, besides having physical abilities, is to pick a good personality,” Nash said. “The closer it is to you the better.”

And as he changed names he went from WCW to WWF and back again a few times before joining the WWE and, finally, signing on with Global Force Wrestling as a “legend” to help promote events and tours.  In the process he became one of the industry’s most popular wrestlers. His career culminated with him being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2015.

Nash also has a host of acting credits on his resume. Beside appearing in movies and on TV, his voice has been used in video games and cartoons. Last year he appeared in “John Wick” with Keanu Reeves, and this year he reprises his role as Tarzan in “Magic Mike XXL.”

“Of all the things I’ve done, the ‘Magic Mike’ series most resembles the comradery of Army life,” Nash said. “Working with the other guys reminds me of being in a squad.” The producers even had the cast do weapons training together as a team-building exercise.

“Magic Mike XXL” was filmed in Savannah, Georgia, which worked out well for Nash as he now makes his home in Daytona, Florida. “Besides, I like to spend as little time as possible in L.A.,” he added.

Nash is happy with the results in the sequel. “It’s better than the first one,” Kevin Nash said. “There’s a lot more going on. It’s more of a road trip and not just hanging in the club.”

“Magic Mike XXL”  is available to rent here: 

Now: This 1970 training video shows how the Army used to be like ‘Mad Men’

MIGHTY MOVIES

The Mandalorian’ season 2 finale was so good we can’t stand it

Chapter 16 “The Rescue” absolutely nailed three things: fight choreography, music, and Star Wars lore. It was so good, in fact, that I don’t know how the show will ever be able to top it, but if nothing else, season two showed that creator Jon Favreau is hitting his stride.

Spoilers through season 2 episode 8 ahead.

The hunt for Grogu the Yoda Baby is on. 

The episode opens with a successful attack against Dr. Pershing’s transport ship, where Alderaan native Cara Dune faced an Imperial soldier who had proudly been aboard the first Death Star when it destroyed her planet. After exploring so many enslaved Stormtrooper stories in Episodes VII-IX, it’s nice to face an enemy with violent ideals that deserve to be quelled again.

Anyway, he’s dead now. 

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

For Alderaan. #NeverForget (The Mandalorian, Disney+)

With Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) and his ship captured, discovering the location of Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) becomes easy work. Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) recruits the help of some old friends, the Mandalorians Bo-Katan Kryze and Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado) and they devise their plan: fly the transport ship to Gideon’s cruiser under pursuit by Boba Fett’s Slave II. Once on board, Kryze, Reeves, Dune, and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) will attack the bridge and subdue Gideon while Djarin shuts down the Dark Trooper activation and rescues the child.

Again I want to iterate, the fight sequences are just plain fun in this episode. The Mandalorian armor means new fight tactics and choreography, and the stunt coordinators really capitalized on each fighter’s different attributes. At one point Dune’s weapon jams and she just starts pummeling Stormtroopers with it like a baseball bat. 

When Djarin makes it to the Dark Trooper bay, he’s a heartbeat too late: one Dark Trooper manages to open the blast door. Director Peyton Reed really nailed some of the camera shots here while Ludwig Göransson’s score is better than ever. The Dark Trooper music really is bitchin’ — it almost reminds me of Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy work. 

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

“Siri, play Dark Trooper music” (The Mandalorian, Disney+)

Here we get to see the full strength of the Dark Troopers. Djarin really struggles to defeat just one — his Beskar armor is the only thing keeping him alive. Meanwhile, the rest of the platoon pounds the blast doors, breaking through at any moment. Finally, Djarin’s Beskar spear destroys the Dark Trooper and he opens the external launch door and sucks the troopers out into space. 

The women successfully take the bridge…but no Moff Gideon. Instead, Djarin finds him in Grogu’s cell, holding the Darksaber over the little guy’s head. Djarin fights Gideon and manages to defeat and disarm him before marching him to the bridge. 

Here, things get interesting. All Bo-Katan has been wanting is to find Gideon and reclaim Darksaber, which will give her the right to rule the throne of Mandalore. Unfortunately, it turns out that she needed to have won the saber in combat — much like the Elder Wand in Harry Potter. As Djarin was the one who took it from Gideon, Bo-Katan refuses to accept the saber when Djarin yields it back to her. 

Put a pin in that. 

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

Cool weapons never get old. (The Mandalorian, Disney +)

This is when the platoon of Dark Troopers returns, boarding the ship and making quick work of the blast doors. Our group of heroes will never be able to take them…but we know from last week’s episode that a Jedi is coming…

…and sure enough, one does. The reveal is as predictable and f***ing satisfying as it could have possibly been. An X-Wing fighter appears outside the ship. Through the security footage we see a robed figure emerge and begin to battle the Dark Troopers. Finally, we see the green blade.

One by one, the Jedi and his lightsaber destroy the Dark Troopers. Little Grogu feels his presence and watches the footage with curiosity. Finally, he enters: Luke Skywalker.

Recently there’s been speculation about Sebastian Stan playing Luke Skywalker — the resemblance is uncanny and Stan (aka Marvel’s Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier) is already beloved by Disney audiences. But Favreau decided to go with a CGI version of Mark Hamill — and it’s the best CGI real human to date. Very little uncanny valley detected here. 

In a heartwarming scene, Luke promises to protect Grogu with his life and train him to use the Force. Djarin removes his mask and Pascal delivers a fantastic and moving performance (considering there were so few words and he was holding a doll) as he says goodbye.

R2-D2 shows up and is cute as shit. Luke takes the baby. The day is won.

Okay, remember that pin? Let’s talk about it. 

The first two seasons have all been about Djarin protecting the child. Now that Grogu is off to Luke’s Jedi Temple, what will Djarin do? Well, I have a feeling he’ll be diving deeper into his Mandalorian roots. Bo-Katan wants to rule and restore the Mandalorians — and she wants to do it with Darksaber. Will she become a nemesis to Djarin? Will they solve the ownership of the Darksaber with a friendly duel? I guess we’ll find out in season three!

Oh, and make sure you check out the post-credits for a fun little revenge scene.

Articles

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare

Above: An exclusive clip from “Eye in the Sky.”


A group of terrorists huddle in a house in an al-Shabab controlled area of Kenya. Among them are high-value individuals who perpetuate terror attacks throughout East Africa. They pray and then rig their suicide vests. Drones overhead beam the scene to allied forces, but time is running out and there is potential for collateral damage and civilian casualties.

The new movie “Eye In The Sky” tackles this scenario. The allied mission commander, British Army Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren), orders a U.S. military drone strike on al-Shabab terrorist organizers and would-be suicide bombers, but her call is made more complicated by the fact that a little Kenyan girl (Aisha Takow) will likely be killed in the strike.

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

The film, which premiered last year at the Toronto Film Festival, shows a unique vision of how calls are made in the heat of battle. From Col. Powell and the drone pilot, 2nd Lt. Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) to the highest rungs of the British and American governments, those watching the camera feeds decide the fates of the terrorists and the innocent bystander. They each make their own arguments in turn as the situation evolves.

The film shows a number of thought-provoking moral questions in the microcosm of this one drone strike. It weighs morality against the tactics of modern warfare. The characters try to minimize the damage done by drone strikes while suicide bombers prepare to kill as many people as possible. The film also questions the value of targeted killings over real human intelligence in the war on terror. But the moral calculus has to be figured out in a hurry. The clock is ticking on this potential strike. A decision must be reached before the terrorists are allowed to disappear into the sprawling city to carry out their suicide missions.

“Eye in the Sky” depicts the divide between civilian leaders and the men and women who conduct targeted operations. Civilian leaders want to achieve political goals but dislike the means by which they have to achieve them. The warfighters have to educate elected leaders on weighing the risks of collateral damage while the civilians have to remind the them about the propaganda value of targeted killings for the enemy. Neither side comes away clean as they argue over the fate of civilians who are otherwise going about their daily lives while this international debate unfolds.

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

The film’s final scene features the late Alan Rickman in his final onscreen role as British Lt. Gen. Frank Benson. In one of his finest moments as an actor, he delivers a harsh rebuke to a civilian Member of Parliament: “Never tell a soldier he does not know the cost of war.”

“Eye In the Sky” is a thrilling nail-biter that also asks questions about the ethics of fighting a high-tech war.

 

MIGHTY MOVIES

Who will be the next James Bond? Here are our 5 best bets

Who will play the next James Bond? Daniel Craig is ready to leave, which feels almost impossible. By the time No Time To Die hits theaters on October 8, 2021, Daniel Craig will have been the incumbent James Bond for 15 years. Interestingly, in that time, he’s only been in 4 007 movies, and No Time To Die will be his fifth, and final outing as the suave super-spy who loves to tell bad dad-pun jokes.

Prior to Craig, the actor who was Bond for the longest number of years was Roger Moore, who played Bond for 12 years between 1973 and 1985. Want proof that the movie industry was way different back then? Moore made seven different Bond films in that period. And, from 1963 to 1971, Sean Connery made six Bond movies, one more than Craig, in only 8 years. (He also took a break while George Lazenby made On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969.

The point is, historically, Craig’s tenure as Bond is somewhat unprecedented insofar as he’s been embedded into the public consciousness as James Bond for a decade-and-a-half, with a significantly smaller output than at least two of his predecessors. This isn’t Craig’s fault or anything, but the result is that it’s probably going to be very hard for movie audiences to accept a new actor in the role. Craig’s new Bond films have become cultural events insofar as they are as anticipated as much as they are actually watched. Spectre, the last Craig film was released in 2015, three years after the smash-hit success of Skyfall, which, was shocking, released six years after Craig’s breakthrough with Casino Royale. Daniel Craig’s Bond feels contemporary, but his tenure of Bond films are actually now just a part of early 21st Century film history.

So, who the hell is going to replace him? Bond boss Barbara Broccoli has gone on record that the character of James Bond will always be a man. That said, it’s almost been 100 percent confirmed that Lashana Lynch’s new agent in No Time To Die might be assigned the number “007,” since that designation is interestingly not unique to the character of Bond. (In several iterations of the character, Bond inherits that number from a previously deceased agent.)

James Bond then will live on as a new man, even if 007 becomes a new character, possibly played by Lynch. So, thinking about the next Bond, which actors are even worthy?

5. Tom Hardy

He’s been Bane. He’s been Venom. He’s even played the younger-clone of Captain Picard. Could Tom Hardy make a convincing James Bond, or do we associate him too much with anti-heroes? Back in September 2020, a huge rumor made the rounds that not only was Hardy in contention to play Bond but that the deal was a lock. Since then, we haven’t heard much, but if there’s one actor on this list who feels very similar to the rugged and dangerous feeling of Daniel Craig, it’s probably Tom Hardy. But will it happen? Is Tom Hardy 007’s reckoning?

4. Henry Cavill

Credit: Netflix

Back before Daniel Craig was cast as 007 for Casino Royale, Henry Cavill auditioned for EON and was seriously considered. Yes, you probably think of Cavill as Superman, (or The Witcher, or more recently Sherlock Holmes) but in 2005 he was very close to becoming Bond. Sure, he’s famous for his faux-American accent, but Cavill is British. At 37-years-old right now, he’s kind of the perfect age to take over for Bond. And, if he got it, he’d be the second Bond to have played Sherlock Holmes (Roger Moore played Holmes in 1976), and the absolute first who had also played Superman.

3.John Boyega

Credit: Lucasfilm

That’s right. Finn from the Star Wars sequel trilogy is a real contender for a new Bond for several reasons. For one thing, his fame could actually mean that doing Bond could almost scan as John Boyega doing that franchise as a favor. The Bond films need Boyega, arguably more than he needs them. The notion of a Black Bond has been floated for a long, long time. Boyega was born in London, meaning Bond is, in some ways, a natural fit. That said, Boyega is 28-years-old, which would make him the youngest Bond of all time, period. Though, as Esquire notes, even Boyega has admitted he’s still a “bit too young” for the role.

2.Sam Heughan

Credit: Starz

Of all the names on this list, Sam Heughan has been in the news a whole lot, discussing the possibility of becoming the next Bond. The star of Outlander has said he doesn’t want to “jinx” his chances at becoming Bond, and most recently added that he didn’t think Bond should be too “posh.” As Jamie on Outlander, Heaughan has already made a huge name for himself as a TV leading man. Notably, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan did the same thing before becoming Bond. Heaughan is also Scottish, and if cast as Bond, would be the first Scottish Bond since Sean Connery.

1. Someone You’ve Barely Heard Of

From gangs to the Navy and then to acting, James Tolkan has seen it all

An early publicity still of Daniel Craig as Bond

Something that every tends to forget is that back when Daniel Craig was cast as James Bond, the initial response from a lot of press was negative. If you were a hip kid who watched a random British thriller, then you knew he was amazing in Layer Cake. If you’d gone to see the first Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider film, then you were aware he was in that movie, but you probably forgot because he was playing second fiddle to freaking Angelina Jolie. The point is, Daniel Craig was not Daniel Craig in 2006. When he was cast, he was disparaged as “James Blond” since, apparently, some people thought Bond had to have really dark hair. It’s also notable that in the early press for Casino Royale Daniel Craig’s haircut was totally different than the close-cropped look we’re used to. When he was the first cast, for many, he didn’t feel like Bond yet.

Obviously, from the first moment of Casino Royale, all of that changed. James Bond doesn’t. become James Bond until we see him on screen. And whoever follows Daniel Craig will be exactly the same, regardless if they were famous for doing something other than drinking very precise martinis.

No Time To Die hits theaters on October 8, 2021.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

These are the most laughably bad recruitment ads for each branch

A lot of time and effort is put into every single advertisement that the U.S. military uses to leave a good, lasting impression on the minds of potential recruits. The best ads evoke emotion, tell the viewer what they stand to gain from service, and inform them that they’ll be a welcome addition to the team.

The following ads exhibit none of those qualities.

Remember, someone in the recruiting command for each branch decided that these videos were the best way to bring those numbers up. And don’t worry, we’re not leaving anybody out — every branch managed to push out a laughably bad commercial.


U.S. Air Force — “We’ve been waiting for you”

Hey, kid! You ever just sit and stare at an incoming tornado like an idiot when someone’s yelling at you to find shelter? Well, then you’re perfect astronaut material!

I’m not saying that every advertisement needs to be upbeat and cheery (you’ll see that those fill out the rest of this list), but this commercial is basically nightmare fuel set to a depressing piano score. Also, it’s cool and all to be fascinated by extreme weather, but if you’re the type of person that walks toward the huge freakin’ tornado in your backyard… you probably won’t score high enough on the ASVAB to get into the Air Force — let alone space command.

U.S. Army — “Sucked in”

It’s been beaten to death already — we all know how terrible of a campaign “An Army of One” was. That slogan completely dispels the notion that you’re becoming a part of something bigger than yourself and promotes Blue Falconry. This ad actually predates that monstrosity.

This ad is what you’d get if someone was sucked into the TV Poltergeist-style, but instead of being pulled into some ghostly dimension, they were instead transferred to the realm of sh*tty detail. Someone thought that layering on an upbeat song was all it’d take to make us how objectively creepy it is — they were wrong.

U.S. Navy — “It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure”

When you release a commercial, you typically want to make it abundantly clear what you’re actually pushing. In this video, a bunch of sailors get their port of call in the Caribbean and enjoy themselves, doing all the fun shore-leave stuff that any ol’ tourist would do — which is a far cry from actual service.

It also doesn’t help that this ad was mocked viciously on Saturday Night Live back in 1979, where they showed sailors on a working party to the tagline of, “It’s not just a job, it’s .78 a week!”

U.S. Marine Corps — “Chess”

Oh man, speaking of misleading advertising… At least the Navy’s laughably bad ad featured some sailors. It takes a full 54 seconds of watching this commercial before you realize that it’s trying to sell you on the Marine Corps.

It’s like someone who didn’t even understand the rules of chess decided that it deserved a dark, gritty reboot. First of all, that’s not how the knight piece moves at all. It starts out fine when he moves across the board to take out the lightsaber wielding bishop but, after that, he just does what he pleases.

To be fair, that’s how most Marines would react given a chess board…

U.S. Coast Guard — “Be part of the action”

Did you know that the Coast Guard actually runs commercials every now and then? And I’ll be honest, this commercial is actually the best of the worst on this list. It takes a fair and balanced understanding of what the Coast Guard does and gives it a Miami Vice tone.

The reason that this one stands out as being the worst of the Coast Guard ads is that it finishes with the dumbest criminals in history being stopped by the dorkiest dudes to ever sign up. On the bright side, having Academy Award winning actor Louis Gossett Jr. put on a Coastie Cap at the end earns them at least a couple cool points.

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