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FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS

About The Cast
"Flags of Our Fathers” focuses on the experiences of the three surviving servicemen – Marines Gagnon and Hayes and Navy Corpsman Bradley – in war and after they returned home. With the government eager to cash in on their celebrity, the men toured the country to raise money for victory as part of the Seventh War Loan Drive. The roles are played by Ryan Phillippe (Bradley), Jesse Bradford (Gagnon), and Adam Beach (Hayes).

For Phillippe, an emotional connection to the material attracted him to the role. "My family has a deep military history,” he says. "My father was in the Navy during Vietnam, and my uncles served there as well. Both my grandfathers fought during World War II. To be able to pay respect to them is a huge responsibility and an honor.

"John Bradley isn't a complicated man – he is honest, simple, and straightforward,” says Phillippe, describing his role. "There's a great freedom in playing a man like that, because he doesn't lie, doesn't pretend to be something he's not. I felt a strong responsibility to make sure he was portrayed in the most honest and complete manner possible; he was a great man.

"I met his son, James Bradley, who wrote the book Flags of Our Fathers,” continues Phillippe. "It was strange for me to introduce myself to someone by saying I'd be portraying his father, but he was very enthusiastic and thought I was a good choice.”

Aside from his emotional connection to the role, Phillippe's greatest challenge was to portray accurately the medical procedures that were James Bradley's job as a Corpsman. "I learned how to do tourniquets, pressure bandages, and slings. I had a training dummy that I would take to my hotel room to practice – which was an odd experience for the people working there,” he laughs.

Jesse Bradford's Rene Gagnon could not be more different from Phillippe's Doc Bradley. As expressive as Bradley is taciturn, as outgoing as Bradley is introverted, Gagnon is the serviceman who (at first) cultivates the fame that comes with the bond tour and helps to coerce the others to go along with it.  "Rene was 19 when all this happened to him,” says Bradford. "He was something of a mama's boy, maybe not quite cut out for war. On the other hand, he was also a kid trying to make good – he did everything that was asked of him and he was certainly tough enough to be a Marine, which is more than I can say for myself,” he laughs. 

After the bond tour, Gagnon experiences a rude awakening. "He took to celebrity – plus, his girlfriend's enthusiasm about it had a big influence on him,” says Bradford. "He's a moth to the flame, and he gets burned a bit. After the bond tour, he tries to trade on his fame, but he doesn't realize that he's been cast aside. He doesn't know how to deal with what's happened to him.” 

The actor says that the key responsibility he felt in portraying Gagnon was to try to show all sides of the character. "In some ways, there's potential for the audience to come out of the movie thinking, ‘I don't like this guy,'” says Bradford. "I talked a lot with his son about what kind of person he was. He was 19 years old, very much trying to do the right thing; I think he was fallible, but also a hero. Even though he's more attracted to the celebrity than Ira or Doc is, I hope my portrayal of the character shows what a complex guy he was. I wanted to portray him in a positive light.”

In addition to his talent as an actor, it didn't hurt that Bradford bears an extraordinary physical resemblance to the real Rene Gagnon. "It's just uncanny,” says Eastwood.

The most complex role in the film is that of Ira Hayes, the flag-raiser who had the most difficulty adjusting to the celebrity and found himself unable to return to a regular life. Eastwood cast Adam Beach, who had starred in such films as "Smoke Signals” and "Windtalkers,” in the role. "I think Adam Beach su

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