"To sugarcoat Chris McCandless would be to betray who he was!" cries Emile Hirsch, defending the role he plays in Sean Penn's "Into the Wild."
When we hooked up for drinks and a podcast chat at the Soho Grand Hotel in Manhattan, I asked Hirsch about the complaint that I've heard from a few Oscar voters that they wished McCandless was nicer to his parents in the film before he runs off to Alaska without telling them. If only his character was more sympathetic early in the film, some academy members feel they might care more about what happens to McCandless later when things turn dark.
"His whole mission was to find a truth he didn't have growing up," Hirsch adds. "He was an angry guy. He had a very difficult childhood. He could not easily forgive his family and that is part of the struggle." CLICK HERE to Download MP3 File and Listen to Our Podcast Chat. Note: You may need to hold down your computer's control key while clicking.
What was the hardest scene to shoot while Sean Penn was behind him "cracking the whip" in the arctic wilderness?
"There was a day when I floated naked down an ice river and I had already lost about 35 pounds," Hirsch says. "I was really skinny. There was snow everywhere. The water was 40 or 41 degrees. I got in and was completely overwhelmed by the cold. The position I needed to be in … I had to be completely relaxed. You can't shiver and get in a fetal position. It meant completely surrendering yourself to the cold. It was tricky."
(Photo: Paramount Vantage)