Kiefer Sutherland, the actor behind iconic characters such as The Lost Boys‘ David and of course Jack Bauer, has been reminiscing about his best-known roles to GQ. These include Lieutenant Kendrick in the 1992 legal thriller A Few Good Men, written by Aaron Sorkin. And Sutherland describes the filming of the famous “You Can’t Handle the Truth!” scene in detail.
Sutherland says; “The story that I’ll always remember from that film was two of the biggest actors in the world were in the same movie – Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. Jack Nicholson gives a performance that’s iconic and extraordinary. But any actor will tell you that Jack Nicholson can’t give that performance if it wasn’t for the performance that Tom Cruise was giving. It works together.”
He continues; “The only time I ever saw actors on a day off come to work was the two of them squaring off for the You Can’t Handle the Truth scene. I remember coming in and I sit down somewhere in the courtroom. I look over and I see Bruce Willis, who’s not even working on the movie, he’s sitting in the gallery. People were coming from everywhere.”
“They start and the coverage is on Jack Nicholson, and they do it from top to bottom, the entire scene. It required a 1200 foot mag, back in the days when we used film, and it literally went from end to end. And he knocked it out of the park. Not a slight hesitation, not an uncomfortable moment, or trying to dip your toe into the scene to see if the water’s fine. This guy went for it. He took a full on baseball swing and he knocked it out of the park. I’d never heard a set that quiet in my life. All the oxygen had just been sucked out of the room and no one was moving.”
Sutherland concludes; “The scene was scheduled for two or three days of filming and (director) Rob Reiner said ‘it’s never going to get any better than that’ so we wrapped. Never seen it happen. And I’ve also never seen a gallery of cast and crew give an ovation. And it was to both of them (Nicholson and Cruise).”
If you’re a fan of courtroom or crime films, check out our guide to the best thriller movies.