Tribute's Bonnie Laufer talks with actors Sam Elliot and Greg Kinnear about working on the dramatic war-film, We Were Soldiers.

B.L. Is it hard to not only portray someone who is based on a real person that is still alive but also re-telling such an important part of history? Do you feel more pressure when you take on a role like this?
S.E. Yes. I think out of all the films that I have ever done, in terms of a historical piece that revolves around someone who is living today, this one was the toughest ever for those reasons.

B.L. Then it must have meant even more to you than just another part in a movie.
S.E. I should have been in Vietnam in 1965. I was 19 years old. I was going to school in Oregon, my dad died and I got re-classified and I joined the National Guard to fulfill my military obligation. I always felt a little bit guilty about doing it that way. This was an opportunity for me to kind of, I don't know what the word for it is, but I feel like I made some kind of contribution being a part of this film getting made.

B.L. Greg, how did you feel playing this soldier who flew the helicopter bringing in supplies, but also having to bring back the dead and wounded to base camp?
G.K. It was an incredible story and an incredible book. I was very young when this battle took place but it rang very true to me. When I read it, it just felt like this had a sense of what I would envision this experience to have been like. I was just kind of touched by it and honoured to be a part of it. I thought that it was very exciting to play a guy who is very much alive. Bruce Crandall is very unassuming but very funny and was on the set. I met him down in Georgia when we started this picture. He had a great sense of humour and he became a friend and was a great source of inspiration while doing the film as well.

B.L. Sam, you play a no nonsense Sergeant named Plumely. What was it like for you meeting this man?
S.E. Joe Galloway took me over to Plumely's house and he was standing out in the driveway waving as we came up. I thought man; I've done this a million times with my dad, going to see all of his buddies. It's just that generation of American men often referred to as the greatest generation. All those guys who went and fought in Europe and you know, Plumely was one of those guys. He loved to hunt, he loved to fish and loved being a soldier. That was his slice of life, that was what he loved and that's what he did.

B.L. Greg, after making We Were Soldiers, what does the word hero mean to you?
G.K. I suppose its somebody who is able to set aside their own interests for the good of somebody else, whether that's family or their country or their dog. It's really just somebody who can put aside their own agenda and to meet some sort of call. It happens all the time, as we found out in this city (New York) on September 11th, heroes are made up of many different pieces of fabric. But this movie, again I was very proud of. I think it pays some honourable tribute to some guys who have been overlooked.