Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne on Post-War Humor and Political Leanings of 'Last Flag Flying'

Courtesy of Amazon Studios
'Last Flag Flying'

Richard Linklater directed the post-war dramedy, which Fishburne says is "about the people that are left behind."

How would the veterans of Richard Linklater's war movie Last Flag Flying vote in the last presidential election?

After a press screening at the New York Film Festival on Thursday, the director explained that the characters of the 2003-set film are somewhat politically ambiguous. He surmised with his actors that Laurence Fishburne's character, Mueller, wouldn't have voted for Donald Trump, but Bryan Cranston's Crazy Sal "probably would've voted for Trump as an 'eff you.'"

Added Fishburne in agreement, "You definitely voted for Trump!"

Linklater, Cranston and Fishburne, along with J. Quinton Johnson and author Darryl Ponicsan, told reporters about making the Amazon movie, which will be released theatrically by Lionsgate on Nov. 3.

"They don't usually make war movies about guys 30 years later, reflecting; it's always mission-based and immediate," said Linklater.

Added Fishburne, "We don't really see a lot of war movies about the people that are left behind, dealing with the deaths of those who serve and the sacrifices they make."

Linklater and Ponicsan first worked on a script in 2005 but figured it was too soon to make the project. Said the director, "Wars, in more retrospective, are more palatable. Had this come out in '05, it's a little too hot a subject."

The film's veteran reflections are drenched in humor, which Cranston found appropriate. "In any great narrative structure, you'll have a significant amount of humor to buoy the dramatic content, and vice versa. It not only gives a more rich texture to the storytelling but also gives the audience a little break — a downbeat. … A chance to slow down, laugh and get back into the journey," he explained. "It reminded me of when I was 13 — my grandfather died, and that was the first person I really loved. There were pockets of people laughing at his wake, and I was furious. I felt, immaturely at the time, that this was disrespectful. They couldn't have loved him because they were laughing! What we know now is people grieve in different ways."

Throughout the press conference, the cast discussed watching the presidential election together (Fishburne said sarcastically, "That was fun") and participating in the ceremonial folding of the flag (Cranston said, "The step-by-step actual decorum was very impressive"). And when asked to comment on headline-making protests during the national anthem at NFL games, Fishburne immediately said, "We ain't got nothing to do with that."

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