'Apocalypse' shaped Scott Glenn's career


Though he was only on the screen for a matter of seconds, the most important film role he ever had was in "Apocalypse Now," says Scott Glenn.

That's surprising, considering that Glenn has worked in dozens of movies since, including "The Right Stuff," "The Hunt for Red October," the current "The Silence of the Lambs" and "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" (which opened nationally yesterday but has not yet opened in Baltimore).

"What I got out of that film ["Apocalypse"] was a sense of self-confidence in myself as an actor," Mr. Glenn says. "Before I went over there I would go in for TV jobs and the TV casting directors would say, 'Oh, you squint when you talk' or 'We don't like the way you walk.'"

Mr. Glenn, who played the memorable cowboy villain in "Urban Cowboy" and the obsessive coach in "Personal Best," says he had a dual reaction to the criticism. "I'd say, 'Well, what do they know? They're just casting television. Damn it.' But in the back of my head I'd be saying, 'Gee, maybe they're right. Maybe I'm not that good.'"

After seven months in the Philippines working with Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando and Francis Ford Coppola on "Apocalypse" -- all of whom reinforced his ideas -- Mr. Glenn says he gained new assurance.

"Then when they said I was no good I wouldn't get angry anymore. Because then there was just one voice in the back of my head saying, 'That's what YOU think. I've just been doing batting practice with the Oakland A's and you're getting ready to coach the Sheboygan Rockets. Don't tell me I can't hit well because I've just had the best in the world tell me I can.' It changed my life."

Mr. Glenn, who always says what he thinks, was against the U.S. involvement in the Persian Gulf -- at first.

Mr. Glenn was a Marine. And when the 12 Marines perished, that cinched it for him. "That's my family," he says, his eyes filling with tears.

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