The problems and pressures on our soldiers and veterans are the subject of new movie starring Charles Dutton, called “Least Among Saints.”
MR. MARTIN: All right. Big screen, small screen, Broadway – I mean, look. You – you act anywhere.
MR. CHARLES DUTTON: [Chuckles.]
MR. MARTIN: So – so, you came to D.C. You’re promoting this new film of yours, “Least Among Saints” –
MR. DUTTON: Um-hum.
MR. MARTIN: — and so we’re going to talk about that. But first, let’s actually show a clip.
MR. MARTIN: First of all, we talk a lot on this show about [the] military – veterans and their families – and this movie really deals with soldiers having to come home and the life they have to confront after being on the battlefield.
MR. DUTTON: Absolutely. I mean it’s so pertinent for today, because it’s a stark reminder of what the government doesn’t do for returning vets. And it’s a bleak example of what they should be doing – you know – for returning vets because I – I’m a- — I’m amazed at the lack of interest that we show the – the Afghanistan and Iraqi returning vets.
MR. MARTIN: And, see, here – here’s what amazes me – is that we have folks who talk about our troops, and they –
MR. DUTTON: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: — talk about democracy and supporting our troops, and – and folks clap for them walking through –
MR. DUTTON: Yes, yes.
MR. MARTIN: — airports and –
MR. DUTTON: Yes –
MR. MARTIN: — things along –
MR. DUTTON: — yes. Um-hum.
MR. MARTIN: — those lines, but I always say the rubber meets the road when they’re no longer fighting.
MR. DUTTON: Absolutely.
MR. MARTIN: Then what – you know, what will America do for our troops? Are we as supportive of them? And I think, frankly, it’s sort of like, “Okay. Outta sight, outta mind.”
MR. DUTTON: Well, you know, there – there is a side of the political spectrum who loves to say, “Let’s take ’em to war. Let’s” – “Let’s go to war,” but no one’s talking about what happens when they return. And – and that’s – and that’s a major problem.
The reason – after I read this script, and the reason I wanted to be a part of it is because it reminded me of so many of my family members who were Vietnam vets and a lot of frien- — buddies of mine who were Vietnam vets who were facing those same kind[s] of things 30, 35, 40 years ago.
And so the character that I play in the film is a Vietnam vet who understands this young man’s plight because that was him in the 1970s, when he returned. So, it’s a very moving, poignant portrayal of – of a vet trying to get it back together and – with doors being slammed in his face. And he learns to discover – or rediscover his humanity by taking care of a child who lives next door to him and becoming a surrogate father.
So, a very moving story – very moving.
MR. MARTIN: What has been the response from veterans groups? Have – have they been –
MR. DUTTON: Oh, amazing. Yes.
MR. MARTIN: — [crosstalk]?
MR. DUTTON: Yes, amazing response for – from veterans grou- — groups all over the country. And – and it’s – it w- — it was a[n] independent film. It wasn’t a big studio picture. It was a[n] independent film, low-budget. And the cast came together not out of money, but it was great material, and it was on the page. You didn’t have to invent anything to[?] be an actor. You know, it was – it – the story was on the page, so it was easy to do.
MR. MARTIN: For me, whe- — when you’re looking at a script and things are coming across your desk, what jumps out at you?
MR. DUTTON: Well, you know, I – I kind of drew my line in the sand early on in my career, Roland, where don’t even mail me any buffoonery. Don’t even mail me any silly stuff. You know? Don’t even send it my way.
I’ve always –
MR. MARTIN: Yeah. When was the last comedy we saw you in?
MR. DUTTON: [Laughs.]
MR. MARTIN: I mean we – where – have you done any comedies before?
MR. DUTTON: No. No, it’s not that I won’t do a comedy. I have one on – on the air. You know?
MR. MARTIN: Okay. All right.
MR. DUTTON: So, it’s not that I won’t do a comedy –
MR. MARTIN: [Chuckles.]
MR. DUTTON: — bu- — but – but I won’t do certain kind of stuff, certain comedies. You know what I mean? I – I want to be able to be in my living room or kitchen ten, 15 years from now and s- — and if I see a rerun of a show, I’m not embarrassed by it. So, I – I think that into my choices.
But I’m also from the theater. I started in the theater, so I’m used to reading and doing and performing great literature and great characters. So, when I get a script, I try to find out, “Does this advance civilization as an artist? Or, is it just commercial?” Sometimes you do stuff to pay the rent. And then – you know. I have – I have a theory. An entertainer will do anything. An actor will do most things. But an artist will only do those things that he or she feels advances civilization.
[END OF INTERVIEW.]