Michael Pena spoke with Southern Methodist University students and TCU staff reporter Allie Brown about co-starring in Robert Redford’s new drama, “Lions for Lambs”, following its screening at SMU’s Hughes-Trigg Theater. Pena said this film will reach out to youth in a positive way.Q: What is it about the film that jumps out and pleases you the most?
A: “I mean, just from a technical standpoint meshing everything – all the story lines and all the debates. I think that when I first read the script I was like ‘Wow’ Robert’s going to have a good time trying to mesh it.”
Q: You’ve had the opportunity to work on all kinds of movies, and most have a political bend. Does this movie have a political bend?
A: “Yeah, I think it’s got like an ace three. You know, you have that of Tom Cruise as senator, that of Robert Redford, and then you have the kids wanting to fight for this country.”
Q: When you think of your character, what’s the political side of him as a college student, what’s going on inside?
A: “I think it’s more of gut. Lee’s inspired by Robert Redford’s character. I’ve had buddies in my neighborhood who have gone to war, and I ask them what they think about it, why they ended up going. A bunch of them have said ‘To protect our way of life’ and so they can add to history.”
Q: Do you care about the projects you pick?
A: “Well, I mean, it’s all about the money. No, I’m just kidding. These are the kind of movies that entertain me when I read them. I know I could probably expand my profile by doing more action films but these are the ones I like. These are the ones I want to do, and it just works out that good people want to do them too.”
Q: Why come to colleges and talk to students? And, why specifically more predominantly Republican students?
A: “I guess the question is ‘Why not?’. That’s why I did this movie, I think there were a lot of different viewpoints represented. It wasn’t left or right, there were a lot of different opinions. I don’t like a movie that preaches but rather that moves me.”
Q: Who is the audience? And what is the movie trying to say?
A: “It is college students. It’s about being engaged in something one way or another. I think getting engaged rather than sitting on the sidelines is the point.”
Q: How did you prepare for this role?
A: “I watched a lot of documentaries at first, and I saw the way people speak in front of an audience. I also looked into pain and unconsciousness and what it does to the body.”
Q: Do you find the movie controversial?
A: “I don’t think it’s controversial because everyone was respected in their opinions and, although they’re cynical at times, they are generally pretty balanced.