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“My name’s Ron Livingston. I’m playing a man named Lewis Nixon. He was the intelligence officer for Easy Company in the second world war. 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. And I shot a video diary. Here it is.”

You could say it in your sleep, right? For the uninitiated, Ron Livingston’s Video Diary is in 12 short segments. Even when you hit “Play All”, you get the same introduction to each segment. It’s a little crazy-making.

I always think it would have been fun, in about segment 10, to have had one of the other actors sit there and recite those exact lines. At least acknowledge that it’s funny, HBO!


Favorite Moments

I’m enough of a freak to enjoy seeing the inside of Ron Livingston’s house. Dude needs some artwork. Cute doggie, though! I wonder who got it.

Grace Nixon! Isn’t she cute?

From the photos, you really can see the added bonus of casting RL – he does look something like Nixon. I was tickled to find a mention of the real Winters referring to Nixon as “blackbeard” on account of his perpetual shadow. They got that right too. :-)

RL is looking at the photo of the real guys lounging in the sun at the eagle’s nest, Winters and Nixon sitting next to each other. “Sometimes you can’t see too much; you just get a sense of what they looked like, the way they carried themselves, the hair. (laughs) They carried themselves like goddamn men.”

Who is more adorable than Ron Livingston? Really. Sorry, I can’t help it sometimes. And don't get me wrong --- adorable with a capital hot. He calls Dick Winters on the phone and has trouble with his speakerphone. All nervous and cute and rocking the sweater, BTW.

In the airport. Settle and Bailey! Speirs and Webster are my other unrealized bromance. (The first one being Speirs and Winters.) And please, I’m talking about the characters now. *holds up a crucifix to RPF* Anyway, any Settle/Bailey proximity is bound to set me off for a sec. They're held up at customs. Settle’s worried about their nonexistent work permits and Bailey’s just happy he got the camera to work. He’s got Settle in focus and he likes it. ;-D

More random fangirling: I love to listen to Ross McCall speak in his regular accent. Knowing that Liebgott’s in there somewhere makes it even more adorable.

Ha. Freddie Joe Farnsworth warns RL that he’s going to take the camera away. Pretty soon. But first, Freddie Joe would like to get some of his own badassery on film, apparently. He tells the boys how it’s gonna be. He sees someone’s expression. “I like that you’re smiling now.” Rick Gomez leans in for an extreme closeup. “We are so fucked.”

Five mile runs every morning. Dale Dye, man, look at him! He’s a commercial for five mile runs. Then Damian’s drilling everyone on their general orders. Notice that he hasn’t quite packed away his real accent yet.

“Tipper” stripping the M1 was sweet, huh? RL attests that Tipper could do it the night before, but under pressure, he slows down. Freddie Joe orders RL into a half-pushup position. (Ow.) Frank John Hughes is the first to join him, then all of them do. Aw.

Dismantled railways and Viet Nam coffee pots. I love RL’s very self-deprecating way with this whole narration. Very nice. Describes the night compass exercise as kind of a circus. RL finds the coffee pot. Damian Lewis “There’s your trophy, Nix. Congratulations.” Donnie Wahlberg leans into the camera. “Blind luck, is what that was.” He's like Lipton with snark. Love that. And I love how DW is often wearing a scarf wrapped over his head like a grandma. *g*

Atomic Sit-ups. Caterpillar Press-ups. Ow. Damian Lewis is calling orders. His voice sounds rough. I like RL’s white shirt and scarf. Very jaunty.

Neal McDonough is delightful, no? Somebody caught him in the face with the muzzle of an M1. I can’t tell who that is bending over him and attending to his wound. I think it’s so fantastic that DL is also hunched over him, right in his face, watching the other guy work. “Does it hurt?” “I’m Buck Compton.”

“Two stitches. Was there anaesthetic for this? I do not think so. I am Buck Compton!” Hee.

RL talks about carrying their gear around. “80 pounds is a third-grader that’s saying ‘Give me a piggyback ride’ all day.”

Fatigue sets in. I think my very favorite image from the Video Diaries is when Frank John Hughes says, “Look at Perconte.” RL turns to record James Madio with his eyes closed, hugging Eion Bailey from behind, sort of hanging on him. And Bailey’s face. So great.

Equipment check! Ha. Inside the mockup of a plane, they count off and pat each other down to check the gear. RL explains. “We’re not wearing the gear yet. Which basically means that equipment check was an excuse to, like, grab the ass of the guy in front of you.” Took the words right out of my mouth. Mr. Livingston, you are a dream come true.

Picture day. Look at how cute Kirk Acevedo is! All sweet and not brass knucklesy at all. “The light is beautiful right now.” He's a darling boy. Why is he always playing some version of a thug?

Liebgott is ordered to hit it. “1000, 2000, 3000, 4000.” And he stands up. Heh, look at him. He’s already a little bit in character, can you see that?

RL talks about the ubiquitous Captain Dye imitation. “Richard Speight has one that involves a hand puppet.” Michael Cudlitz has the best Captain Dye, he says. Yeah, for my money, the very funniest moment in this whole thing is when Cudlitz calls from the back of the photo group in his Dale Dye voice, “Everybody grab a partner. We’re going to be doing open heart surgery.”

Donnie’s in the granny scarf again.

Neal McDonough wants to make sure we know how awesome RL is. “You people watching this on HBO don’t get to see Nixon to too much stuff. You should have seen this fierce warrior on the battleground the other day. Hopefully we’ll get you to do it again.” He walks away and yells, off-camera, “You’re a bad man, Nixon!”

Nearing the end of boot camp. RL thinks they did ok. “Not bad for a bunch of actors.”

Brize-Norton. McCall and Hughes are cute. “Tomorrow, then we’re out of here, baby. We’re goin’ to war!”

Practicing PLFs. Hey, there’s Settle and Bailey together again. Close up, just for, like, 2 seconds. I think they broke the lens with the searing concentration of pretty and RL had to go get a new one.

Rick Warden, in full Harry mode. “You got two what?” “Two harnesses.” “You’re gonna need two, you fat fuck. Now hit it. Don’t laugh at me, hit it!” The guy does so. Rick rolls his eyes.

Jump Wings Ceremony. Aw. It is interesting, as they say here, to think of the guys who did this back then. When the airborne was new and innovative and they were some of the first people ever to jump out of planes behind enemy lines. I can’t even imagine. The fear of going to war is one thing; these guys were risking their lives just getting there. And they were a group designed to be surrounded by the enemy. Holy cow.

Dale Dye is something else, huh? Listen to that speech. Maybe he wrote it and memorized it, but I think he’s the kind of person who really can speak extemporaneously like that, and have it come out beautiful. I think his message was great, without being over the top. The message being that, no, you aren’t actual soldiers but you have learned something that will be very important. That it’s not just playing; this is a chance to honor the real veterans by making BoB as authentic as possible.

I liked the part where he talks about HBO and the insurance company freaking out. “Uh, Captain? We understand that three of them died today...” We see Shane Taylor, Dexter Fletcher and Matthew Leitch cracking up.

And that was just the first ten days of their time together. I can imagine how close they would have been by the end of filming.

Anyway, I love the Video Diaries. Tell me what you think.



Questions

What are your favorite bits?
Who’s your favorite person in the Diaries?
What part would you have hated the most?
What would you like to have seen more of?



Links of Awesome

Here’s a feature from TV Guide, talking about the story, the production, and a bit on many of the major characters. Lots of fun.

Just look at this fantastic randomness. I think I got this from newredshoes, from whom all good things come. Extra fun if you’ve ever seen the show Chuck. Rick Gomez’ brother, Josh, is in Chuck and he’s in this video. And try to spot Richard Speight...

Coming Soon: The rest of the extras and picspams of the actors as themselves.

Comments

( 41 comments )
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aunt_deen
Jan. 24th, 2009 01:28 am (UTC)
My complaint is that there wasn't ENOUGH of it! It was pure, cracktastic, squeerific fun and it was only about twenty minutes! Who's fucking idea was that?

Seriously, I love the idea that Nixon gets a video camera and films stuff, but I really thing that should have been a supplement to an actual HBO documentary of the bootcamp.

So maybe Ron Livingston could have been on camera more.

I do love how they were sliding into character even then. I am even interpreting the fact that we didn't see David Schwimmer much as him choosing to remain rather aloof and isolated from the rest of the men.

And I love listening to Ross McCall's accent. Although I swear, that does not sound like any Scottish accent I've ever heard. It sounds very working-class English to me.

Edited at 2009-01-24 01:50 am (UTC)
anatolealice
Jan. 24th, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
He's supposed to be scottish? That was definately working class english!
(no subject) - aunt_deen - Jan. 24th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
aunt_deen
Jan. 24th, 2009 01:31 am (UTC)
On a bus filled with veterans, their families and actors heading to the series's Normandy premiere last summer, someone shouted, "Hey, Doc." Shane Taylor glanced up, and that was all Maxine Tircuit needed to figure out that Taylor was the actor playing her father, medic Eugene Roe. "He grabbed me and held me and we both cried."

This is definitely my favorite actor-meets-real-people story out of the bunch. So poignant that Doc Roe was not there himself to meet Shane Taylor but that his daughter felt like this was bringing him back in some small way.

And the fact that she located him by yelling out "Hey, Doc!" just makes me grin and clap my hands and cry all at the same time.
aunt_deen
Jan. 24th, 2009 01:37 am (UTC)
Oh, and by the way, Mary, this recap is even more hilarious than usual.
marymary
Jan. 24th, 2009 01:49 am (UTC)
Srsly? I was more stream-of-consciousness on this one than usual. But then there's so much funny in the piece itself, that it's not hard to make a funny recap. And thanks. :-)
marymary
Jan. 24th, 2009 01:47 am (UTC)
My complaint is that there wasn't ENOUGH of it! It was pure, cracktastic, squeerific fun and it was only about twenty minutes! Who's fucking idea was that?

Well, exactly. In my head, I always go back and re-produce it, you know! Like, HBO, give the camera to other people, have another camera to fill stuff in that RL doesn't catch. And, you know, TELL THE MILITARY ADVISORS who are WORKING FOR YOU that you WANT Ron Livingston to film for all 10 days of boot camp. Stuff like that.

but I really think that should have been a supplement to an actual HBO documentary of the bootcamp.

Or, what you said. (I really must read the whole thread before I respond.)

Although I swear, that does not sound like any Scottish accent I've ever heard. It sounds very working-class English to me.

Yes.

"Hey, Doc." Shane Taylor glanced up, and that was all Maxine Tircuit needed to figure out that Taylor was the actor playing her father, medic Eugene Roe. "He grabbed me and held me and we both cried."

There are pictures of this somewhere! I have to find them. I think I might sorta remember where.
marymary
Jan. 24th, 2009 01:57 am (UTC)
I drink from the keg of glory!!!

http://members.at.infoseek.co.jp/tokyosly/photo3.html

Scroll down. :-D
aunt_deen
Jan. 24th, 2009 02:12 am (UTC)
I offer you the finest muffins and bagels in all the land!

That is just such a heartwarming picture.

I said I was going to bed half an hour ago damn it. (Been up since 2:45) Stop entertaining me.
marymary
Jan. 24th, 2009 02:10 am (UTC)
Answering my own questions.

What are your favorite bits?
See the recap.

Who’s your favorite person in the Diaries?
It's really frustrating that there's so little of most of them. Given what we have, Ron Livingston for sure. Then McDonough. Honorary Mention to McCall, Wahlberg and Warden.

What part would you have hated the most?
Either the last mile of the morning run or waking up after having done guard duty at night.

What would you like to have seen more of?
Everyone! Just more time and more people. And I'd kill for some footage of Lewis and Livingston.
gatsbyfan
Jan. 24th, 2009 03:14 am (UTC)
My name’s Ron Livingston.... And I shot a video diary. Here it is.
Every time that comes on screen I crack up laughing. Especially after watching with you, Mary.

I LOVE Ron. The man needs more work because we are really being deprived. Personally, I think he should start with a several episode arch on "Life".

I LOVE that you used that hugging icon. I love that quick moment. They are so cute. I love him getting all nervous when he makes the phone call.

I too wish we got more of the diaries because they were really good! Early on you could tell they would be something when his camera gets taken away from him and he has to stop and do push ups. And then suddenly all the men are. Right then, you just knew that this was going to be special. They bonded like the real men of Easy.

If that doesn't make sense, ignore it. I'll be back tomorrow when my head doesn't feel like its going to dive into the keyboard.

::goes off to think of RL's Nixon:: big happy sigh.
marymary
Jan. 24th, 2009 04:27 am (UTC)
I LOVE Ron. The man needs more work because we are really being deprived. Personally, I think he should start with a several episode arch on "Life".

Yes to all that. I was so sad when Standoff was cancelled. He was on my TV every week! :-( Good news (which I think I emailed you) is that he has one series and two movies in the works. And yes, as I lay me down to sleep each night, RL on Life is on the short list. :-)

he has to stop and do push ups. And then suddenly all the men are. Right then, you just knew that this was going to be special.

Yeah, isn't that nice? Credit FJH for startting that. What actors do is such a fascinating thing to me, and that's a little of it there. The line between their own experiences and the experiences of the characters they play. It must be a funny feeling to keep stepping back and forth across the line.

Aw, your head? Are you still in pain?

Edited at 2009-01-24 04:29 am (UTC)
tomfoolery815
Jan. 24th, 2009 05:34 am (UTC)
he has to stop and do push ups. And then suddenly all the men are. Right then, you just knew that this was going to be special.
Yeah, isn't that nice? Credit FJH for startting that.

What an inspired decision by FJH, eh? He had to know that if he joined in, the other guys would, too. Without any of them needing to say it, I believe they all sensed that this is what the RL Men of Easy did in such situations. That it was the right thing to do.

What's great about the Video Diaries, to me, is how much getting in character can be observed.

-- It seems that DL stayed in his American accent all through boot camp. (Right?)

-- "I'm Buck Compton." The gleam in his eye tells me NM was thinking "Buck faced much worse. I can deal with an owie."

RL talks about the ubiquitous Captain Dye imitation. “Richard Speight has one that involves a hand puppet.”
Loved the deadpan way RL says that. :-) And yeah Mary, Cudlitz takes the prize.

Sorry. Too much wrong with this post for my taste.

Edited at 2009-01-24 06:00 am (UTC)
tomfoolery815
Jan. 24th, 2009 05:54 am (UTC)
Dale Dye is something else, huh? Listen to that speech. Maybe he wrote it and memorized it, but I think he’s the kind of person who really can speak extemporaneously like that, and have it come out beautiful.
I think so, too. I get the feeling he's done it before. :-)

That it’s not just playing; this is a chance to honor the real veterans by making BoB as authentic as possible.
You can see that, at that moment, he's all about inspiring the actors, making them feel like they're ready to represent the real-life heroes. Because he senses that it's important to them to make it authentic. It's a great speech.

Appropriately salty for a man-to-men speech, too, like the kind delivered in locker rooms before big games.

(I think adding the strings was a bit heavy-handed, though; filmmakers seem to want to add music in situations that would be better without it. No one needs stirring music to be told that's a special, dramatic moment.)

He calls Dick Winters on the phone and has trouble with his speakerphone. All nervous and cute
I really liked that he hung up the phone, then just stared it for a few seconds. As if the phone embodied Winters. Like Charlie, having just heard that Mrs. Landingham was dead.
tomfoolery815
Jan. 24th, 2009 05:56 am (UTC)
Speirs and Webster are my other unrealized bromance. (The first one being Speirs and Winters.) And please, I’m talking about the characters now. *holds up a crucifix to RPF*
Real People Fandoms?
marymary
Jan. 24th, 2009 06:04 am (UTC)
Close, I think the translation is Real Person Fic. Fanfiction people write about actors, instead of characters. I wanted to make it clear I wasn't talking about Ron Speirs and Dick Winters. Or, for that matter, Matthew Settle and Eion Bailey. I only twist fictional people to my whims.
marymary
Jan. 24th, 2009 06:01 am (UTC)
But what's great about the Video Diaries, to me, is how much getting in character can be observed.

Yeah, I agree, Tom. You can see it with all of them, a little bit. Probably DL most of all. He's hardly ever on camera, but when he is, he's all business. I can't really compare him to RL, cause we get a lot of him talking to the camera. So I'll compare McDonough. He's much more having fun with the whole thing. He refers to his character, but he isn't exactly being his character. Yet that sorta fits Buck, who liked to be one of the guys.

And then, like I mentioned, that one scene with Rick Warden is all Harry. So cute. Ross McCall spoke in his regular accent when on camera, though I did say that I saw some Liebgott in him in that one bit, so I suspect he was getting in character too.

It's really hard to tell because we get such little bits of people. Too short, HBO!!!!

-- It seems that DL staying in his American accent the whole time. (Right?)

Yeah, except for that one mention I made in the recap. He was probably trying, but maybe it just slipped that time. It's very hard to tell, cause he's on screen so little in the Diaries.
tomfoolery815
Jan. 24th, 2009 06:06 am (UTC)
Then Damian’s drilling everyone on their general orders. Notice that he hasn’t quite packed away his real accent yet.
Cleary, I hadn't noticed. Either in the Diaries themselves, or your recap. (Sorry about the latter. A bad case of skimmer's mouse.)

I think I've never heard DL speak in his natural voice. I was listening for the non-Americans to speak in their natural voices, because I always enjoy that disconnect. (Jamie Bamber in the Eick Diaries, for example.) But every time I heard DL talk, it sounded like he was already in his Winters voice.

I did heard Ross McCall. Not much Liebgott in that brogue. Isn't he the one who said he was Eisenhower?
marymary
Jan. 24th, 2009 06:13 am (UTC)
Isn't he the one who said he was Eisenhower?

Yeah, that was him. And, as aunt_deen rightly says, he doesn't seem to have a Scottish accent. I don't know enough about him to speculate...
marymary
Jan. 24th, 2009 06:30 am (UTC)
I think adding the strings was a bit heavy-handed, though.

Yes, I agree completely, Tom. I had that same thought when I watched last time. Very good point. The music is unnecessary.

And I think they risked pushing the scene over the edge to silly. Because, after all, these are not men on their way to war. These are men on their way to a movie set. Dale Dye's speech is exactly in the pocket; he tells them why their work in boot camp and their work on the mini-series is important. And it is! But the music seems to want to make it more than that. The guys seem to get it. Captain Dye seems to get it. But HBO is reaching a bit.
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( 41 comments )