THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER
When the filmmakers first auditioned newcomer Leslie Stefanson, the decision to hire her was immediate and unanimous
When the filmmakers first auditioned newcomer Leslie Stefanson,
the decision to hire her was immediate and unanimous. "Leslie
is simply a very good actress," says Neufeld. "She's
indescribably beautiful, so it's easy to overlook her talent at
first glance, but then you watch her work and you know how good
she is. We all felt completely confident about her ability to
handle this role. It's an important role because it's the title
character, and I think audiences will make a great new discovery
when they see her. It's also important because so many of the
revelations that occur throughout the story are exposed via her
"I only saw one woman in the role and it was Leslie,"
adds Travolta. "She was the only one who got the layers of
the character. She was smart, charismatic, beautiful, assertive,
and she wasn't afraid of the anger or the complexities. Leslie
had to play dichotomies and that's not easy, only a savvy actor
can do it well and she handled it effortlessly. I had no doubt
or reservation - she was The General's Daughter."
"Elisabeth is a very complicated woman," agrees Stefanson.
"She is the perfect military woman, but she has a sadistic
side. Her relationship with her father is complex - she worshiped
him and he betrayed her so she uses the skills she's perfected
in Psychological Operations (where she works) to defeat him both
mentally and professionally. As an actress it was a very challenging
role because of her many layers and personality. Elisabeth is
facile enough to switch from the regimen of military life to a
life much darker in a matter of moments."
"Everybody's got a mask on," says West of the many characters
in his film. "You're never sure who the real person is."
And that includes General Joseph Campbell. A blending of Norman
Schwartzkopf, Colin Powell and Dwight D. Eisenhower, the General
is a national hero on his way up the political ladder. He is 100%
U.S. Army and will do anything within his power to minimize the
sensational aspects of his daughter's murder and bizarre lifestyle.
His devotion to the corps knows no bounds; it's a habit he learned
long ago -- a loyalty that eventually destroyed his relationship
with his daughter when he made the choice to protect an institution
instead of his child.
"Campbell is a three star general who's about to retire and
go into politics after a distinguished career in combat,"
describes James Cromwell. "And when his daughter asks to
be stationed at his command post, the already difficult relationship
between them becomes very stormy. She feels that he has betrayed
her and spends her adult life trying to get her father to recognize
his responsibility in that betrayal. Out of his own guilt and
an insensitivity to his daughter's plight, he consequently feels
little remorse - by the time of the murder, he's been backed into
a corner. He's defensive, and at the same time, very aggressive
in his anger and disappointment with her."
"Jamie had such a great take on the General," notes
West. "Originally the General was a little more straight
and clean cut, but Jamie wanted to give him a much darker side.
He didn't want the General to be particularly regretful of the
terrible mistakes he'd made, which was an interesting way to go
because most actors need to have a reason why their character
turned out to be bad. But Jamie didn't want any of that. The General
has to make some tough decisions and it's going to be interesting
to see how<
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