Celebrities react to terrorist attacks

By KAREN BUTLER   |   Oct. 17, 2001 at 2:00 PM   |   0 comments

NEW YORK, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- On the surface, it might not seem like Drew Barrymore, Quentin Tarantino, Penny Marshall and James Woods have much in common. But the one thing all of them now share is the sense that they must go on with their lives and their work, despite their feelings of shock, fear and grief over last month's terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington.

"I have to go to work and I go home and I cry every night," said Bronx, N.Y., native Penny Marshall, director of "A League of Their Own" and "Big" and former star of TV's "Laverne & Shirley."

"I haven't had a day off in months, but neither do those people working down at Ground Zero, nor will they. I'll be all finished (with my current project) soon. They won't be. So, all I can do as an entertainer is to make entertainment because people need a release from what is going on and if I can make them laugh or move them or take them away in any way from what's the other parts of their lives, that's what I do and that's all I can do," she added.

"The thing that I just keep focusing on, is that 6,000 people woke up that Tuesday morning, thinking that they had their whole lives ahead of them, you know, and went to work and didn't survive the morning," said Quentin Tarantino, the celebrated writer/director of "Pulp Fiction" and "Reservoir Dogs."

"And it's just like, every time you think about it like that, you know, you think about all your B.S. problems, and all the things you have left standing with different people, and everything like that. And it makes you just realize, bam. I mean, there's 6,000 people out there ... at every income, from CEOs of companies to the janitors went down in those buildings. So, it's like I just keep thinking about that. About a whole bunch of people who woke up, thinking they had their whole lives in front of them, and they didn't," he said.

"I'm a guy who was raised in a military family," James Woods, an actor best-known for his roles in "Ghosts of Mississippi" and "Casino," said about the United States attacks on the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"To me, there is nothing upsetting about crushing our enemies into oblivion and wiping them from the face of the earth and the pages of history. I have no problem with that. In fact, I cherish it and I was ready to do whatever it took," he went on.

Tarantino, who is a Tennessee native, but now lives in New York, added: "I grew up with Watergate and the history of the Vietnam War. I didn't experience it, or anything like that. But the history of it (was) looming over (my childhood). But Watergate was part of my childhood, and that whole kind of erosion of your trust in the American government. But since then, there's been like this aspect that everybody has been asleep on the couch, and that we all of a sudden woke up. All right, 'Oh, there is this big world out there, and stuff has consequences.' And we're (reminded that we're) not immune to it. There is no bubble protecting our land here."

Taking a more hopeful view of recent events was Drew Barrymore, a young actress famous for her sweet, upbeat, if somewhat quirky personality.

"I am so impressed with how all of the good people on this planet are being so kind and gentle to each other and to gravitate towards that," the "Charlie's Angels" star recently told reporters.

Barrymore, who stars in Marshall's "Riding in Cars with Boys" this week, said she hopes her new movie about the struggles and triumphs of a young single mom will remind people of what's really important in life, such as love and family, especially during times such as these when everyone seems scared and confused.

"This story is very extraordinary because it is one of the most honest looks at family and the mistakes you made and the feelings of guilt and why (the parent-child) relationship is the most important that you will have in your life and to get it right," Barrymore explained, breaking down into tears.

"And when it does have its moments that are right, that is the most rewarding feeling you could ever have in this world and how much it's important to say 'I love you' and how we're learning that in this world right now and that this film is about that is so wonderful and it helps me make sense of what is coming out right now," she continued.

Although very nervous about flying to New York in light of recent events, Barrymore honored her commitment to guest host NBC's Gotham-based sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Live" last weekend.

The actress canceled many of her other press interviews and left town shortly after learning that someone at NBC had been exposed to anthrax, however. Columbia Pictures canceled the New York premiere of "Riding in Cars with Boys" shortly after that.

Marshall said before the event was canceled that when she was asked to premiere her new film in the Big Apple, she responded: "Yeah, we will. We shot it in and around New York. We're gonna go there. They're not gonna stop us from living."

But, Woods, who plays Barrymore's father in the film, said that, due to the circumstances, he never had any intention of attending the glitzy movie premiere.

"My choice was that I didn't think it was appropriate in any way to celebrate while there are funerals taking place of fallen heroes and innocent victims," Woods noted.

He added that he respected the people who did plan to attend the premiere, stating that even though he disagreed, he did understand their feelings that "it's maybe a time to share with people and support New York."

"But I'm a little more concerned about if there's one person who is a survivor or spouse or child or parent or the brother or sister of a victim who would feel uncomfortable, then I think it's not appropriate for us to be there, so I declined to go," Woods stated.

Woods also applauded the move to cancel the Emmy Awards show earlier this month.

"I thought it was inappropriate for them to have the Emmys," he commented. "It's sort of (more appropriate in) frivolous times. It's kind of fun to watch sort of frivolous people do frivolous things about themselves, but I don't think any of us feels like feeding that monster right now, you know what I'm saying?"

Asked whether he thought the horrifying images that Americans have seen on TV lately will translate into less violence and explosions, and lower body counts in the movies, Woods said: "It's a marketplace and we, and I try not to, I try to sort of do what I think is good I think I have a pretty nice track record for doing serious films, but you kind of give the audience what they want and if the audience demands or goes to or supports cheesy movies that are all about that kind of stuff, then I guess there are certainly elements of our industry who will keep shoveling it their way. I choose not to, so I'm not so rich and so famous as some other people, or wealthy as the ones who create these kinds of movies, but I don't want to make these kinds of movies by and large."

Defending his past choices to portray villains in film, Woods said: "I might have done them a few times because I kind of thought the movie was fun in a more innocent time when it seemed kind of harmless, but I certainly wouldn't make a gratuitously violent movie now. I would make a movie that was serious about these issues, if necessary, but it's hard to judge. 'Saving Private Ryan' is one of the most violent movies on earth, but also, I think, one of the greatest movies ever made. It's really about true honor and courage and patriotism and heroism and incredible sacrifice the men of this country had to make, my father, I'm proud to say, was one of them. And it's a very challenging question, but I think you have to be very serious about your choices in the future and I think the audience will help us do that. Right now, I think it's time to err on the side of respect and caution."

Tarantino, who has written and directed some of the most violent and bloody crime dramas of the past decade and whose next project is entitled "Kill Bill," disagreed, however, stating he thinks Hollywood's sensitivity will be short-lived.

"I don't think (the terrorist attacks and subsequent war) is going to affect anything," he said. "I think it might affect something maybe for the next month. You know, the movies that are going to get released for the next month. Maybe a month and a half. But it ain't gonna change anything for me. But when someone is an artist, then world events shouldn't change things that much. If I was an artist in France and the Nazis occupied, all right, I might leave, but I'm not gonna change my art. I might try to escape, but I'm not going to start singing the party line. It's like when you're dealing with an artist who has a vision and a way of looking at things, stuff like that shouldn't change anything."

Soon after the terrorist attacks on America, movie studios postponed the released of Tim Allen's comedy "Big Trouble" and Arnold Schwarzenegger's action flick "Collateral Damage" because they contained violent scenes deemed inappropriate for the time being. However, other violent films such as Michael Douglas kidnap drama "Don't Say a Word" and Denzel Washington's "Training Day" did very well at the box office.

That said, the recent world events have caused some actors, such as Barrymore to be more introspective and wonder how they can do more to help their fellow human beings. One thing Barrymore said she would like to do other than entertain people, is put on a brave face and be a good role model to teen-age girls.

"I can honestly say that I don't know how to do my job all of a sudden and how scary that is and I don't know how to live and feel safe right now and how everyone in this world is feeling that way and I try to think of all the things I can do to make things better, such as all of us are doing," Barrymore admitted.

"I think it's incredible how confused we are right now. The only thing that I'm starting to realize is that we somehow have to figure it out together and realize that it's going to be minute-by-minute and hour-by-hour and day-by-day ... so, I would only hope that I could be some kind of a role model and yet I think we're going to be learning together."

© 2001 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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