Tail Slate recasts 1968’s ‘The Green Berets’

TailSlate proudly presents our recast of…

It has been almost exactly 50 years since the late Roger Ebert wrote the following about The Green Berets, John Wayne’s jingoistic film about Special Forces soldiers serving in Vietnam:

“The Green Berets” simply will not do as a film about the war in Vietnam. It is offensive not only to those who oppose American policy but even to those who support it. At this moment in our history, locked in the longest and one of the most controversial wars we have ever fought, what we certainly do not need is a movie depicting Vietnam in terms of cowboys and Indians. That is cruel and dishonest and unworthy of the thousands who have died there.

One of the few films about the Vietnam War actually produced during that conflict, it was an adaptation of Robin Moore’s book of the same title.  Moore actually went through the Special Forces “Q” qualification course and airborne training prior to deploying to Vietnam with a Special Forces unit.

When John Wayne sought the cooperation of the Department of Defense and then President Lyndon B. Johnson, they insisted that Moore not be involved in the production of the film.  The government was attempting to prosecute Moore for allegedly revealing classified information in his book but that ended when Wayne began production.  Now, TailSlate recasts The Green Berets.

John Wayne as “Colonel Mike Kirby” in The Green Berets

Wayne was 60 years of age when production began, much older than the typical Special Forces Colonel.  His physical conditioning was also not that of the average Special Forces operator.  We are going to go with an actor in his mid-50s who can carry off the appearance/physicality of a Green Beret officer.

Johnny Depp in Murder on the Orient Express

Johnny Depp will need a “top-kick” just like John Wayne’s Colonel Kirby had Aldo Ray as “MSGT Muldoon”.

Aldo Ray and John Wayne in The Green Berets

We’re going with an actor who has experience portraying a senior noncommissioned officer.  As Command Master Chief “John James Urgayle,” Viggo Mortensen is ideal for this role.

Viggo Mortensen in 1997’s G. I. Jane

David Janssen was a major TV star at the time The Green Berets went into pre-production.  The final episode of “The Fugitive” in which he starred, aired while he was working on The Green Berets.  As “George Beckworth, he played a liberal journalist who was vehemently opposed to the U.S. involvement in Vietnam; but his attitudes were changed once he saw what was really happening there (really being of course based on Wayne’s perspective).

David Janssen in The Green Berets in a scene at the beginning of the film

We are having trouble choosing.  On the one hand, this guy looks good in the role.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

On the other hand, this guy has experience portraying a journalist.

Jack Soo was a relative unknown when production began on The Green Berets.  “Barney Miller” wouldn’t make him a star until years later.  His role as a senior-ranking South Vietnamese Army officer is small but pivotal.

Jack Soo in The Green Berets

We’ve chosen Dustin Nguyen to take on this part.

Dustin Nguyen in The Man With the Iron Fists

George Takei, who plays “Captain Nim” was supposed to have an expanded role in the second season of television’s Star Trek (TOS).  But he missed nine episodes because he was obligated to work on The Green Berets.

Raymond St. Jacques, John Wayne and George Takei in The Green Berets

TailSlate has selected Lewis Tan to reprise Takei’s role in our recast.

Lewis Tan

Tim Hutton’s role as “SGT Peterson” was a bit of comic relief but also provided an important storyline on his own.

John Wayne and Jim Hutton in The Green Berets

The obvious choice for recasting his role is to use his Oscar-winning son, Tim.

Timothy Hutton in The General’s Daughter

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