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River would describe the character he portrayed as bitter and the complete opposite of himself. "There are things in the film that Birdlace does that if it were me, I'd be so embarrassed. But it's not me, it completely belongs to him."
"He's very naïve and probably believes in the American dream," described River. "He doesn't know that it's about to shatter with Kennedy's death, the loss of trust in authority, the deceit."
"I like the character because he's a simpleton," said River. "An average guy with a boring life, like so many who joined the marines. Birdlace is your average goon-squad leader. He's an easy read. He just wants to go out and have a good time. And one day his conscience catches up with him."
Apparently, River remained in character for a long time after filming was completed. "When I walked away, I was kind of tormented," he said afterwards. This was arguably the first time that River gave just a little bit too much of his own self for a movie project and, in trying to create a deep and believable character, took things very close to the edge.
It would not be the last time.
"What have they done to the rain?"