Barry Pepper

Barry Pepper is a Canadian character actor who has been working consistently in Hollywood for decades. He’s probably best known for his roles in “Saving Private Ryan,” “The Green Mile” and “61*.” He also had the misfortune of starring in one of the worst films ever made in “Battlefield Earth.” Interview

We interviewed Barry about his work in “Casino Jack,” where he and Kevin Spacey take on the Abramoff scandal. Barry described the film as follows: “(Casino Jack) is absolutely stranger than fiction. That’s the thing about a story like this: you just don’t expect it to be as comedic and lurid and bizarre of an odyssey as it is. Your great concern going in is that it will be your typical dry Washington insiders story, and yet it’s highly entertaining stuff. At the same time, it’s repulsive in terms of what it reveals, in that it reveals what it’s intrinsically wrong with our democracy today, but it’s a very entertaining, comedic film.”

Barry Pepper interview with for Casino Jack

Acting Career

Here are some highlights from Pepper’s impressive film career:

“Saving Private Ryan” (1998)
After working in television for years, Pepper got his big break with the role of the sniper Private Daniel Jackson in this epic war movie from Steven Spielberg. Pepper gave an incredible performance, more than holding his own with the all-star cast led by Tom Hanks and also featuring Tom Sizemore, Ed Burns, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Jeremy Davies and Matt Damon.

The Green Mile” (1999)
In 1999, Pepper gave one his most famous performances as Bob Ennis in Frank Darabont’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel “The Green Mile.” Ennis is a death row inmate who is convicted of brutally murdering two young girls. He initially comes across as cold and unlikable, but as the story goes on we begin to see the cracks in his façade. This chilling performance helps make the film.

61*” (2001)
Pepper stars as Roger Maris opposite Thomas Jane as Mickey Mantle in this HBO film by Billy Crystal about the iconic home run chase of 1961. Pepper delivers one of his best and nuanced performances as “the stoic and honorable Maris who feels uncomfortable with the media’s and public’s obsession with the record chase.” It’s uncanny how much Pepper looks like Maris and embodies his persona. Jane is equally brilliant as the charismatic Mantle. It’s a brilliant film that any baseball fan will love.

“Battlefield Earth” (2000)
As mentioned above, this clunker is often listed among the worst movies ever made. It’s a disaster, though it’s so bad that sometimes it’s worth watching just for the unintentional comedy aspect. It’s a lame attempt at a science fiction film based on the 1982 novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Pepper stars alongside John Travolta and Forest Whitaker. The film follows a rebellion against the alien Psychlos, who have ruled Earth for 1,000 years. Pepper plays one of the humans, who have been reduced to savages who can’t speak. Pepper has little to work with here with the miserable script and storyline, and sadly delivers a performance he’d probably like to forget. Travolta is a scientologist and this was his passion project. What a mess! It won eight Razzie Awards and in 2010 was named Worst Picture of the Decade. Pepper won the Razzie for Worst Supporting Actor for his performance, though he was a good sport about it.

Casino Jack” (2011)
Pepper stars opposite Kevin Spacey and Kelly Preston in this excellent film about the Jack Abramoff scandal (see the interview link above).

Kevin Spacey and Barry Pepper in Casino Jack