Kevin Richter in Double Vision

David Morse - Proof of Life

Deutsche Presse-Agentur, June 29, 2001

Copyright 2001 Deutsche Presse-Agentur

June 29, 2001, Friday, BC Cycle, 08:46 Central European Time

SECTION: Entertainment, Television and Culture
LENGTH: 705 words

FEATURE: Actor David Morse crosses cultural divide in Asian thriller

BYLINE: By Jenny Tumpelmann, dpa


From repentant drunk driver in The Crossing Guard to tough death-row guard in The Green Mile, actor David Morse has carved out a career for himself as one of the most accomplished character actors in U.S. film and theatre.

But for his latest project, the 47-year old native of Massachusetts has shunned the big budgets of Hollywood to star in the latest offering from the producers of Chinese-language Oscar-winner Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Directed by leading Taiwanese director Chen Kuo-fu, Double Vision seeks to blend the thriller genre with eastern mysticism. In it, Morse plays an FBI agent brought in to help track down a killer in modern-day Taiwan. "In this film, the challenge is coming to a different culture," the soft-spoken Morse told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa during filming in Taipei. "I'm playing a familiar character in extremely unfamiliar circumstances."

While Double Vision's estimated 5 million dollar budget may seem meagre compared to the megabucks spent on most U.S. movies these days, it's lavish by Asian standards, perhaps reflecting a growing confidence within the local movie industry following the success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

It also brings together some of Asia's leading acting talent, including Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Ka-fai (The Lover) and Taiwan actors Yang Kuei-mei (Eat Drink Man Woman) and Leon Dai (Betelnut Beauty).

For sure, all eyes will be on whether Double Vision can duplicate the success of box office hit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which wooed audiences in the west with its mixture of martial arts and ancient Chinese lore.

"Crouching Tiger took the Asian film to a whole other level in the U.S. that nobody had seen before," said Morse who, at 6 foot 4, towers over many of his co-stars.

For Morse, whose credits also include The Rock, The Indian Runner and Proof of Life, as well as 1980's hospital TV drama St. Elsewhere, the experience of making a movie in Asia has been a far cry from the big budgets of a U.S. movie.

"There aren't too many Hollywood films where you and all the other actors would be having make-up put on in a restaurant," he said. "That's more what would happen in an independent film."

And yet, like an independent production, he notes, Double Vision has all the ambitions of a Hollywood movie, even though the same resources are not always at hand.

"People are very professional here, they do very good work," he said, "Here, you're simply more creative when you do something. An independent film is the same thing."

Morse, who has some 27 movies to his credit, is no stranger to independent or non-mainstream productions.

His 1995 film The Crossing Guard was an independent work directed by Sean Penn that won praise from critics for both men and also earned Morse a nomination for an Independent Spirit Award.

And just last year, he took on the role of policeman Bill alongside Icelandic pop star Bjork in the musical drama Dancer in the Dark, which subsequently picked up the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Yet theater remains the medium that gives him most satisfaction. His work on the stage has earned him a host of awards, including four in 1997 for his performance in a production of Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, How I learned to Drive.

"I love the experience of getting to. You begin at a certain place in the evening and you take a journey for two hours and you get a whole life in an evening," he said.

For all his critical success and roles in box office hits such as The Green Mile, Morse remains an intensely private person whose face is perhaps better known to movie-goers than his name.

Certainly, the actor doesn't feel drawn to the glamour of Hollywood - he calls Pennsylvania home - and the trappings of stardom, even though he doesn't always have access to some of the choice roles offered to Hollywood's biggest names.

"Tom Hanks and Russell Crowe get offered some pretty great roles," said Morse. "I will not deny that I would love to have the chance to some roles like that. But I'm a very lucky man to be doing what I'm doing and be able to do what's available to me."



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