During the movie, there is a shot when you can see how we had to turn corners. When Richard Gere's Zack Mayo, whom I call "Mayonnaise," comes to talk to me before the fight scene, I say, "Meet me in the blimp hangar." Then, seconds later, I order, "Company halt," and they all stop on a dime and head around the corner without touching the curb. It's far more difficult than it appears to have to act and march at the same time. Things were made easier for us by the fact that they had actual DIs, or gunnies, in the movie and that a real gunny was there to dress me properly for my role.
What was also difficult was that director Taylor Hackford decided to put me in separate living quarters, in a comfortable condo twenty miles away from the set. The purpose of the forced separation was so that I could intimidate my men more during my scenes. He had to put an end to what was happening during rehearsals, when I screamed at the recruits and they broke into giggles. The word in Hollywood was, "Have you heard? Lou lost his mind up there." Alone in my condo every night, I almost did.
The rest of the cast partied a lot, although Richard and the equally talented Debra Winger retreated to their own places. The onscreen chemistry between the two of them was terrific, but it was a different story once the camera was turned off. They couldn't have stayed farther apart from each other.
Taylor kept urging me to "lay it on him," meaning that I should scream at Richard, cornering him, transforming him into a marine who wouldn't want to leave. It was the first time I had worked with Taylor, one of the nicest and most brilliant directors out there. I like to be pushed, and he pushed me, with a vision of Foley that made me trust Taylor completely. During the shoot itself, I fell into the same trancelike condition as when I had played Fiddler. It is as if the spirits of these two men, Fiddler and then Foley, joined mine and carried me off to a place where I left myself behind and became those two unique and totally different men. It was utterly magical.
When Richard pulls those words "I got nowhere else to go!" out of the depths of his soul, I understand that he has to make it, that I have to turn him into a man. There I am, in 1982, a black father figure making a man out of a white playboy. This made quite a statement, reminding me of my role as the homicide chief I'd played in "Companions in Nightmare" some fifteen years earlier. Things had certainly changed, although in many ways they were very much still the same. My hat was off to Richard during the entire shoot. I have the utmost respect for that man, who made an internal decision not to act like a movie star but rather to do his part from the inside. It was his movie, but it was apparent that he never once thought of his character, "I can't let him do that. I'm a star." He got dirty and tired and acted his butt off. He should have won an Oscar. I believe he will win one soon.