Roles in War Films

I re-watched Saving Private Ryan yesterday morning (great movie). While watching, I mentioned to Mrs. Batty that if I were a big time movie star, I would actively lobby for a meaty role in a good war movie.
Her response, “It seems all the really big movie stars do.”
Which got me to thinking - are there any huge, stupendous movie stars who haven’t made a good war flick? Not to sound sexist, but I think we’re dealing with male stars here, as there just aren’t that many good roles for women in war films.

The only one I could think of off the top of my head is Edward Norton.

How about you?

Has Brad Pitt ever done a war film?

Not a war film per se, but Brad Pitt was a soldier experiencing combat in Legends of the Fall.

I just looked at a filmography of Bruce Willis.

He’s played a Vietnam vet in In Country, and a soldier in The Seige, but hasn’t been in any real war films.

Does that count?

Close enough. Were there any scenes in In Country of the war? I can’t remember. Actually I don’t think I’ve ever seen that whole movie from start to finish.

I don’t know about In Country. I never saw the movie, just the description in the filmography.

Here’s some more actors I think haven’t done any war films (one of the plusses of working Sundays - no work to actually do and I’m getting paid to surf right now. Thanks for the thread, Jack, this is keeping me busy and helping pass the time :)):

Kevin Costner
filmography at

Jack Nicholson (I may be wrong about this, since I haven’t seen all of Jack’s films, and some of the movies in the list don’t have descriptions)
filmography at,+Jack

Kevin Spacey
filmography at
I have 2 hours until I can go home for the day, so I’m still looking . . .

Let me clarify - not neccesarily War Movie roles, but roles in movies where combat is depicted.

Under my interpretation of my own rules, you can scratch Kevin Costner. He had a very lengthy combat scene in Dances With Wolves. It was the Civil War and he was hell bent on killing himself, only to become a hero of the battle.

As for Jack Nicholson, I’m not sure either. I know he has played military men (A Few Good Men - The Last Detail), but I don’t think he’s had the requisite combat scene. Of course I could be wrong.

I forgot about that scene in Dances With Wolves. Been a while since I’ve seen it.

I’m not sure about Nicholson either, a good portion of his early films did not have complete descriptions of the plot, so I don’t even know what genre they were in. I keep thinking someone else will read this and add something, but I guess for now, you and I are the only two interested.

Yeah, looks like it. Ah, screw 'em. If they can’t recognize a good time when we slap them accross the face with it that’s their problem not mine.

[sub]Just in case anybody else does decide to contribute, I didn’t mean you by that above statement. ;)[/sub]

Let me get this straight–the post is only 2 hours old, and you two are whining that nobody’s posted yet? Sheesh! :rolleyes:

As for Nicholson, he did appear in Ensign Pulver which is a war comedy set during WWII.


Ensign Pulver the sequel to Mister Roberts! I forgot - he played Dolan.

So Jack, your rules: does the lack of battle scenes keep Nicholson on the list, or does it being a war movie count?

Huge stars that haven’t made a good war flick, you say?

How about Al Pacino in Revolution? Came out in the mid 80s. Donald Sutherland was in it too. Don’s in practically every movie that comes out, but I don’t know if anyone considers him huge yet. I don’t.

And I don’t know if he’d be considered a huge star either, but there was Dylan McDermott in Hamburger Hill. The movie sucked, and he’s a quasi huge star. Would it qualify? (Don Cheadle was in it too, but again, the huge scale must be questioned here.)

Then, there was Robert De Niro in The Mission. This was sort of a fictional war involving Spain selling Brazil to Portugal, then the Portugese fight the remaining Brazilians. It’s been a long while since I’ve seen it, so I could be wrong on that plot (which I probably am), but I remember several combat sequences with uniformed soldiers.

Number 1 - I don’t consider Ensign Pulver as counting, because it is a comedy, and I haven’t seen it (hey, my game, my rules). But generally I’m looking for actors who have portrayed (or attempted to portray) the horror/heroics of war/combat. Or more to the point, those who haven’t.

Number 2 - Even though vandal lists movies that he/she thinks sucks, they still count. Besides, Robert De Niro was in The Deer Hunter so that negates any crappy movie he’s ever done {cough} … {Rocky and Bullwinkel}.

So the list we’ve generated so far is:
Edward Norton
Bruce Willis
Jack Nicholson
Kevin Spacey

How about the guy who said “Hey, Vern!” all the time?

I don’t know if Keanu Reeves has done a war movie yet, but he should.

I know I’d happily plunk down $8 to see him get the crap kicked out of him by R. Lee Ermy.


I could have sworn there was a Ernest Eats Naplam in The Nam. But I guess I could be wrong.

(His name is Jim Varney [recently deceased])

Jim Varney was in a WWII TV show called “Operation Petticoat”, as a seaman aboard a Navy sub (painted pink) that had 5 female nurses.

I just did a little research on Keanu. He appeared in a movie called A Walk in the Clouds. I haven’t seen this movie, but the plot summary on IMDB says he portrays a man just back from WWII. Were there war scenes in this movie? Has anyone seen this?

My ex made me watch that piece of crap movie. I remember very little about it, but I do not think there were any war scenes. IIRC, it starts with his arrival after the war and then there’s the whole stupid mushy love-story shite.