The Verge: Badge Dale

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As the lead in HBO's megabudget miniseries The Pacific, Badge Dale finally gets to rise to the front of an ensemble. The 31-year-old actor first appeared as the ill-fated Simon in the 1990 adaptation of Lord of the Flies, then resumed acting as an adult, landing a high-profile arc as Jack Bauer's partner during the third season of 24. Since then, he's been busy with a multitude of projects: In addition to his role as Robert Leckie in The Pacific, he'll appear in Robert Redford's The Conspirator and topline AMC's next drama, Rubicon.

Dale called Movieline last week to chat about all three upcoming projects, but before we began our conversation, I had a little bit of bad news for him.

So before we start talking about The Pacific, the news just came out that 24 is probably going to end this year, and I wondered what you--

What?!

You hadn't heard that yet?

Uh, no!

There's word that it might be shopped around to another network or just canceled outright to make room for a feature film version.

Oh, wow. I don't know what to say.

I'm sorry to break the bad news to you! That was a significant step in your career, wasn't it?

Yeah, it was a huge step in my career. I went from getting paid $200 a week off Broadway to working with Kiefer Sutherland. Wow, I'm sad to hear that.

You were doing theater when you went up for The Pacific, right?

Yeah, I was doing a play with the New Group here in New York, and I had about two weeks left in the run and I didn't know where my next job was. Then The Pacific called and asked if I would move to Australia for a year.

How long had you been auditioning for it?

It was about six months, but to be honest with you, I auditioned for it heavily in the beginning and then I didn't hear from them for a long time. I didn't know that I was even on their radar. I think they exhausted all of their options and then they were like, "Oh, we have to hire this Badge guy?" [Laughs]

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In future episodes, we see a lot of Leckie's dark side. How much were you able to play that while keeping in mind that this series is paying tribute to him, to some extent?

This was the challenge of Leckie: He can be an asshole or sarcastic or kind of a prick, but he's also very quiet, very artistic. It was this constant, daily struggle to walk this tightrope of what are we doing with this character? How's the audience going to follow him? It was very difficult at times, but to be honest, I think what you see in The Pacific is almost a kinder, gentler view of Robert Leckie. I know the family thinks it's right on. Robert Leckie could be a difficult man, but I think we captured both sides of him.

He starts out very intellectual and then we really see a physical transformation. He goes from leading with his mind to leading with his body. Did you go through that, too?

Yeah, definitely. I think you had to lead with your body, to some extent. You'd show up for work and you'd go days without any dialogue whatsoever; you're just navigating explosions and mortar pots and marching through the jungle, sitting in the rain. The physical aspects of this job are like nothing I've ever seen before, and I worked construction for six years. I've done some pretty hard physical work in my life to earn a living and have a place to sleep at night, and I've never felt exhaustion like I felt on this job. And you keep in mind, we weren't doing it for real, we were out there playing. When you get eight, nine hours on set and you're tired and complaining, you think about the men who were actually out there on Guadalcanal. They couldn't go back home, they couldn't go back to a hotel.

I would imagine on most jobs, a day with no lines to memorize is a cake walk. Not so much here.

I know! It was like, "Pleeeease give me a scene where I can act. Give me anything I can do other than try not to get blown up." When we shot the Melbourne episode, we'd shot for three months in North Queensland, so we were running around the jungle with a bunch of other guys, we hadn't shaved, we stank. It was becoming -- and I hate to use this phrase since I was in the movie as a kid -- it was becoming Lord of the Flies-esque. We got down to Melbourne and they said, "Let's go right into production on the Melbourne episode [where the characters have an Australian idyll in between battles]. They're in the city for the first time, let's see what happens to them." And they brought in all these beautiful Australian actresses. [Laughs] We were trying to break down scenes, and I couldn't even remember my process, man! I was sitting there like, "I don't remember how to act. I can't even talk to a woman right now." It was wild. We looked like 12-year-old kids.

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