Tim and I had the pleasure of attending the Michigan premiere of “Beyond Glory” in Leland yesterday. We also got to meet Stephen Lang, an actor we’ve been following since his days playing David Abrams on “Crime Story” in the 1980s. Such a thrill! I texted my son, who’s a junior at MSU, and told him we got to meet Col. Quaritch (from “Avatar” – we’re big fans), and he couldn’t believe it.
Adapted from Larry Smith’s book, “Beyond Glory” is a one-man stage show (now also a film, directed by Larry Brand with James Cameron as executive producer, Gary Sinise as the military voice narrator, and my friends Rebecca Reynolds and Jim Carpenter, who live in Leland, as producers) in which Stephen tells the story of eight Medal of Honor recipients from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He tells the story AS those men, changing his voice, stance, everything. As the tagline says, “some stories should never be forgotten,” and Stephen brings those stories to life beautifully.
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“Beyond Glory” enjoyed a celebrated run on Broadway and in Chicago’s Goodman Theater, and now Stephen is taking it to various states for a limited run through November. What strikes me is how much memorization there is in the play. Massive amounts of lines to remember, but Stephen has done the play hundreds of times, so I’m sure it’s ingrained in his soul by now.
There was a Q&A after the screening (which was at the Old Art Building in Leland – what a fantastic venue!). Tim took the opportunity to ask a question he’s been wanting to ask since the first time he saw “Tombstone,” in which Stephen plays Ike Clanton. There’s a scene in that movie where Kurt Russell, who plays Wyatt Earp, says he’s going to turn Ike’s head into a canoe, and Tim said the way Stephen leans back is the penultimate scene in every western movie, and did the director tell him to do that or did it just come instinctively?
Well, apparently, there was a big shake-up with the directors on that movie. The first one was fired, and even though a new director was brought in, according to the movie’s IMDB page, Kurt Russell directed a majority of the film. Stephen said that scene where he leans back is the result of Kurt sticking the gun hard to his forehead. And that, my friends, is how a movie becomes one of the greatest, most iconic westerns of all time.
Take a look at “Beyond Glory.”