The highly anticipated 10-part HBO Original war epic, “The Pacific,” reportedly the most expensive so far among HBO productions (with its $200 budget), is set to premiere its first two episodes in Asia, including the Philippines, on April 3, less than three weeks after its US premiere. The first episode, written by Bruce C. McKenna and directed by Tim Van Patten, will be aired at 9 p.m. on HBO/HBO HD.

The second episode is also written by Bruce C. Mckenna and directed by David Nutter. New episodes will be aired every Saturday at 9 p.m. Viewers can also catch “The Pacific” on HBO Signature every Friday at 8 p.m. Log on to for more details on play times.

A Playtone and Dreamworks production, it is executive-produced by Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman, the same producing team behind the Emmy Award-winning and Golden Globe-winning 2001 HBO Mini-series “Band of Brothers.” Hanks and Goetzman also executive-produced the HBO mini-series “John Adams” which won a record-breaking 13 Emmys in 2008.

“The Pacific” is based on the true stories of US Marines in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Shot in various places in Australia, it had HBO Mini-series president Kary Antholis as the executive in charge of the production. The other episodes were directed by Jeremy Podeswa Graham Yost, Carl Franklin, and Tony To. The other writers were Robert Schenkkan, Graham Yost, Laurence Andries, Michelle Ashford and George Pelecanos.

The mini-series is based in part on the books “Helmet for My Pillow,” by Robert Leckie; and “With the Old Breed” by Eugene B. Sledge, with additional material from “Red Blood, Black Sand” by Chuck Tatum, and “China Marine,” by Eugene B. Sledge, as well as original interviews conducted by the filmmakers.

When we were in Los Angeles, California recently upon the invitation of HBO Asia, we were able to interview the three male lead characters: James Badge Dale, Joe Mazello, and Jon Seda. James Badge Dale plays Private First Class (PFC) Robert Leckie; Joe Mazello plays PFC Eugene B. Sledge; and Jon Seda plays Sgt. John Basilone. The mini-series follows their life and experiences in the Pacific during World War II.

James Badge Dale

James Badge Dale, being the son of the late Broadway film and TV star Anita Morris, and two-time Tony Award-winning director-choreogapher Grover Dale, he practically grew up backstage and naturally followed in the footsteps of his parents. Debuting via the off-Broadway play “Getting Into Heaven,” Dale’s most notable role to date is as “Barrigan” in Martin Scorsese’s Academy Award-winning movie “The Departed.”

Dale also appeared in “Lord of the Flies” and in the film festival favorite “Cross Bronx.” On TV, Dale played Chase Edmunds, Kiefer Sutherland’s younger partner in the hit series “24,” and also had memorable roles in “Rescue Me” and “The Black Donnellys.” He also stars in the new series “Rubicon,” a serialized political thriller that revolves around an analyst at a New York City think tank (Dale) whose work leads him to uncover a clue that points him toward an unfolding global conspiracy.

To prepare for his role as Robert Leckie, for which he auditioned (a long process because it took six months before he got the call to go to Australia he said), he interviewed Leckie’s wife and daughter.

He also read as much as he could about the character he was going to play. Leckie was a writer and he wrote many books – not only about his memoir of the war but also about his childhood and growing up as an only boy with four sisters. These books provided Dale with a deep insight into the character he played in the “The Pacific.”

It was very different playing a character that was real, Dale said. And he was in the war, he experienced it. He wrote about it, it’s his story, and it was like a tight rope act for him he said. Creating his own character out of that real character was tough, needless to say. And at the end of the day, whenever he looked at Leckie’s picture, “it was like he always changes expression,” he chuckled.

Joe Mazello

Joe Mazello isn’t just an actor, he is also a writer and director who just graduated from USC Film School where he wrote and directed a short film entitled “Matters of Life and Death.” But as his short film was making the rounds of the film festival circuit, Mazello was cast in “The Pacific” and he left immediately for Australia for the shooting.

Mazello started his acting career at age seven, when he played the role of Bobby in “Radio Flyer,” which was directed by Richard Donner (“Superman” and “Lethal Weapon”). His big break, however, was when he was cast as Tim Murphy in Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” when he was only 10. He also appeared in the sequel, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.”

Mazello also starred opposite Meryl Streep in “The River Wild,” and opposite Ashley Judd in the adaptation of John Irving’s novel, “Simon Birch.” He has also appeared in numerous TV shows, among them “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Without a Trace,” and “Providence.” Currently, Mazello is working on David Fincher’s “The Social Network,” starring Justin Timberlake and Jesse Eisenberg.

In “The Pacific,” Mazello plays Sledge, who turned 18 just one month before America joined the war. Sledge has relatives who fought for the Confederacy. His father in fact was a medical officer during the 1st World War. Sledge wanted so much to enlist but a heart condition prevented him from doing so. In 1942, he finally enlisted and became part of the K Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division as a mortar man.

Mazello said he has a personal connection with the war; his grandfather was a veteran and from him he got his first education about the war. But it was only after doing “The Pacific” that he understood what his grandfather and his comrades went through during the war. “I looked at him differently when I came back after the shooting,” Mazello said.

“Working on ‘The Pacific’ gave us all great appreciation of what the enlisted men did in the war,” he added.

To prepare for his role, Mazello said he read intensively about Sledge’s memoir. Being a director himself, we asked if he was allowed to given inputs as to how he would attack his character. He said they talked and decided on what would be best for the entire project. He knows that on the set, the director is the boss who calls the shots.


Jon Seda

Jon Seda hails from New Jersey where he was a boxer. He hung up his gloves however when he made his screen debut as a fighter in “Gladiator” in 1992. He made a name in such films as “Carlito’s Way” and “Twelve Monkeys” but it was only until he made “Homicide: Life on the Street” that Hollywood took serious notice of him. In 1996, Mazello received critical acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival for his role as “Blue” in the movie “The Sunchaser,” which starred Woody Harrelson. After this, he played Jennifer Lopez’s love interest in the movie “Selena.”

Seda’s TV credits include regular series roles on “Kevin Hill” and “Close to Home,” and recurring roles on “Ghost Whisperer” and HBO’s “Oz.”

Like Dale and Mazello, Sedda researched about the character (Basilone) that he was to play in “The Pacific.” “We did a lot of research,” he stressed, “but what made it tougher for me was the fact that there was no actual book written about Basilone.” But he was able to talk to a former comrade of his and also his classmates who told stories and talked so well about him.

“Basilone is a big hero and in legend in New Jersey where he grew up, but he wouldn’t call himself a hero, saying everyone else were heroic in the war… he was also the most popular among his fellow Marines during the war, he really found his niche in the Marines,” he said. There is even a big statue of him in New Jersey. Basilone was born in New York to Italian immigrant parents; Basilone first enlisted in the US Army and served for three years in the Philippines where he was a champion boxer. After his stint with the US Army, Basilone joined the Marine Corps in1940.

Because Sedda was also a boxer (he fought for three years), we asked if this was the reason he was tapped to play the role of Basilone. “It helped,” he said but it wasn’t the main reason of course. The lesson I learned from boxing, he said, was “it’s what you can do when you’re tired that makes you strong…”

“It was tough shooting the war series but we all learned that it was nothing compared to what the men went through in the war,” he said. Playing Basilone is so far the most challenging and difficult role he has done. He did 10 days in boot camp to prepare for the shoot. His body went through pain. Physically, it was the most demanding role in his entire career. But he did the physical demands easily; what’s difficult was the emotional impact to his person. He was incredibly affected emotionally, Sedda stressed. The battle scenes were very intense, he recalled. He would cry thinking about the war, about what happened to the soldiers in both sides, about the sacrifices that everyone did for their respective countries.


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