Ed Burns is one of the most respected names in independent filmmaking. His first film “The Brothers McMullen” which he produced, wrote, directed and starred in, is the definition of an independent film success story. And that was only the beginning. Burns has gone on to write and direct thirteen more great independent film resume including, “She’s The One”, “Sidewalks of New York” and “The Groomsmen” and he’s created an impressive acting resume outside of his own films too.
Ed Burns sat down with SiriusXM host Ron Bennington for an episode of Unmasked this week to talk about his incredible filmmaking career, and his new memoir, “Independent Ed: Inside a Career of Big Dreams, Little Movies, and the Twelve Best Days of My Life”. He discussed his inspirations, and told some great stories including one about his very first day, of his first acting gig for another director– working with Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg on “Saving Private Ryan.”
“So, we’re there. Obviously, I’m scared. It’s my first real acting job. And I look across the field and there’s Steven behind the camera. And I hear ‘Action’ and I have the first line. And I take two steps and I turn and I don’t see Captain Miller, I see Tom ‘Fuckin’ Hanks. And then it kind of hits me…
‘Oh my….wait a second. Where the hell am I? I’m playing a World War II soldier. This is Tom Hanks. I just heard ‘Action’ from Steven Spielberg.’ And I try to deliver the first line and I look, my hands are shaking and my voice is cracking. It’s terrible. I hear ‘Cut! Let’s do it again’. Tom goes, ‘Oh don’t worry. Relax. Relax. You’ll be fine.’
Second take, action. I do it again. Now I’m even worse. Now it’s in my head and I’m terrible. And then Hanks is like, ‘Dude. Chill out. Alright? You can do this. Alright?’ Third take, another disaster. Now Tom’s a little bit concerned. ‘What have we gotten ourselves into?’ But to his credit, he kind of talks you through it. ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s just like any other thing. Just like ‘Brothers McMullen’. There are more toys here, more people here, but it’s just the same deal. And then fortunately, I settled down. We finished the scene. But the interesting thing is that scene does not make the final cut of the movie.”
Ed Burns credits Tom Hanks with getting him through his “Saving Private Ryan” experience. He also gave the Unmasked audience some insight into how Hanks works on set.
“The guy is… I mean he’s just the real deal. He’s just incredible. Watching him work, we all just sat there in awe. And the amazing about Tom, you know everybody has a different process and how they approach it whether they’re method or whatever. But Tom, the thing that is amazing is we’d be shooting a really serious scene. And he would be telling you a joke in between takes and then Steven would say ‘Alright, on your marks.’ And everyone gets to where they’re supposed to be. And Tom would say ‘Alright, hold on’. And then, ‘Action!’ And then he would just do this heartbreaking scene. Steven would call ‘Cut’. And he would say, ‘Alright, so then the guy walks out of the bar…'”
You can hear the premiere of Ed Burns on Unmasked on SiriusXM’s Ron and Fez Show Friday, February 6th at 2pm et on Raw Dog Channel 99. Unmasked will re-air on Saturday, February 7th at 7pm et and on Sunday, February 8th at 2pm et and 10pm et. Unmasked will also air on OpieRadio Channel, Sirius 206 XM 103 on Friday at 11pm et and again on Sunday on OpieRadio at 11am et.