1998's The Thin Red Line was director Terrence Malick's first film in 20 years. So when word came the renowned filmmaker was working on a new film, casting for the film became, for lack of a better word, maddening. In 1995, once word went out that Malick was making another movie after many years, numerous actors approached him, flooding the casting directors until they had to announce they wouldn't be accepting more requests. Of those he did actually consider, Malick met with an interested Johnny Depp about the project at the Book Soup Bistro on the Sunset Strip at one point though nothing came of it. Sean Penn, who played 1st Sgt. Edward Welsh, met Malick and told him, "Give me a dollar and tell me where to show up". While scripts were also sent to Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall and Tom Cruise, some A-list actors including Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, Gary Oldman, and George Clooney offered to work for a fraction and some even offered to work for free. This kind of desire to be apart of Malick's film was particular demonstrated when Bruce Willis even went as far as offering to pay for first-class tickets for the casting crew so he could get a few lines for the movie.
In 1995, at the home of Mike Medavoy (Malick's former agent who fronted $100,000 to help Malick kickstart the project), even the staged reading featured a stacked cast with Martin Sheen delivering the screen directions while Kevin Costner, Will Patton, Peter Berg, Lukas Haas, and Dermot Mulroney played the main roles. In short, anyone who was anybody really did show up to be apart of this film in any way they could! Stay tuned!