Shortly after GateWorld interviewed Ben Browder (“Colonel Cameron Mitchell”) at the end of 2008, we received word of a new project he is starring in. “Freeze Frame” will tell the tale of two traumatized war veterans trying to end their lives, and Browder will play a pivotal role.
The YouTube video, a precursor to the full film, has garnered some attention, and despite the film’s early stage of development we wanted to hear more from Ben about the part.
GateWorld: This new film you are working on right now — “Freeze Frame” — tell us about it from your perspective. I know we’ve got the one paragraph line about what the film is about. What is it about for you? Where does it begin?
Ben Browder: Jonas McCord is where it all begins. Jonas was in Vietnam. I met him years ago and I guess maybe two or three years ago I got in contact with him through [my agent] about a script and we started having [discussions]. Just a really interesting and smart guy.
We had talked about the project and at the end of ’08 was going to do a short film. He sent me the material. I looked at it and I said, “I’m sure there’s someone better.” He said, “No, you should do it.” We shot the short piece for it. They’re currently rewriting at the moment.
We at a certain point had had discussions about the vets and the things that they go through when they come back from the war, and it went from there.
GW: You’re pretty careful about political issues that you even discuss. Is this particularly poignant for you? Do you have vets in your family? Did you get their input before pursuing this?
BB: I have a brother who is in the Army. I have an uncle who was a naval leader. My great-great-great-great grandfather was at the Battle of Shiloh. You go back further to the Revolutionary War … I have uncles who were shot down over Germany out of B-17s. I have relatives who died in World War I, so I guess the answer is yes.
I guess if you live in America long enough — I don’t know any family that doesn’t have a history with it. It’s not that far removed from me. Additionally when I was working on Stargate we interacted with the military on a fairly regular basis.
GW: I think we’ve all grown up hearing stories about friends and some of them becoming more and more detached over time, and a couple of them killing themselves. Do you think that this is an issue that has not had enough attention? Is that one of the reasons that you want to do it? Do you want to say something with this movie?
BB: I’ve had this discussion a couple of times about the politics of it. How is this possibly a political … I realize maybe I’m missing the point, but it seems to me that there are some things which really shouldn’t be political. As a nation we should not be political about how we treat the people that have fought and died for our country. I do think that it is a problem that people don’t want to look at, but it’s a problem which has been with soldiers.
I’ve said this and it’s true. The Greeks wrote about it. In the Civil War they had melancholy. In World War I they had shell shock. In World War II they were calling it a Section 8. And then it eventually becomes Posttraumatic Stress Syndrome. We rename it over and over. But by calling it Posttraumatic Stress Syndrome now it’s a disorder. We’re relabeling something which is common for soldiers throughout history.
And I said in the previous interview and I’ll say it here: George Washington said, “The ability of a nation to fight a war will be dependent upon how it treats its veterans.”
And that’s not a pro-war statement. We’re not even talking about the current war or the last war. But if one says at a certain point that the defense of your country is essential, then it’s a no-brainer that you have to treat your vets well.
I do think that in the current time we don’t want to look closely at this issue. It’s easier to see a soldier who’s lost a limb, and it’s equally tragic. But the underlying stresses which soldiers bring back with them from conflict deserves our attention. If this film starts to give it some attention then I think we’ve done something good. It’s just my opinion.
Jonas’s script and what the final incarnation of the script will be … For Jonas it’s personal. I know it’s personal for him. And it probably is political as well. As an actor I’m looking at the personal. I see that story and I go, “That’s a story that should be told.”
As an artist, and I use that term very loosely. As an actor, as a guy who tells stories, you try to tell the story. What people do with the story, that’s up to them. Some stories need to be told and this is one that needs to be told.
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