After looking at this interview for the first time in nearly 15 years, my first reaction was: "Damn! I can't believe I didn't ask him a single question about Jack Nicholson!" On the other hand, Sean Penn is very forthcoming while talking about another actor in The Crossing Guard -- the under-rated David Morse, who also starred in Penn's The Indian Runner. As for Crossing Guard itself, this is what I wrote a few years back:
It's too long, too unfocused and way too self-indulgent. But in the end, none of this matters. Sean Penn's second effort as a director-screenwriter is compelling and emotionally resonant ways that more conventionally well-made films never manage to be. Jack Nicholson gives one of his finest performances as Freddy Gale, a jewelry store owner whose daughter was killed by a drunken driver six years before the story begins. Since then, the devastated Freddy has remained alive only by nursing the hope that he will be able to kill John Booth (David Morse), the man who accidentally killed his daughter. But as the guilt-racked Booth is released from prison, it becomes very clear that perhaps neither man really wants to live much longer. Throughout Crossing Guard, Penn has a tendency to sledgehammer his way through walls rather than simply opening doors. Even so, he always gets where he wants to go -- to that dark corner of our hearts where we can forgive no one, not even ourselves. Co-star Anjelica Huston has a couple of terrific scenes as Freddy's ex-wife, a woman with her own share of guilt, fear and loathing.
One of David Morse's finest perfomances and there are many to choose from. Only he could make you feel more sorry for a drunk driver than the father of the child he killed. I would love to see him and Sean Penn act with each other.
Morse also is terrific in Penn's The Indian Runner. Of course, I became a big fan back when he was part of the St. Elsewhere ensemble.
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