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James Marshall, Lords of the Ring

This month James Marshall, the strong, silent motorbike rider of Twin Peaks fame, and Boyz N The Hood star Cuba Gooding Jnr fight it out in Gladiator, a violent, no holds barred movie about  underground boxing. Edwin J Bernard talks to each of them.

James Marshall arrives at the LA interview in a haycovered black sweat-top, dirty black 501´s, paintsplattered black cowboy boots and an endearing grin from ear to ear. In the flesh, he couldn´t be further away from the moody, broody, clean James Hurley of Twin Peaks. This month 25-year-old Marshall (he wisely changed his surname from Greenblatt as homage to his teen hero, Jimi Marshall Hendrix) makes his cinematic debut in Gladiator, a film he wanted so badly he trained for six months before getting the starring role of underground boxer Tommy Riley.

« I was offered Gladiator three weeks after Twin Peaks had hit, » he says, « and I was fresh off delivery jobs feeling like an out of work actor. So I just went for it. I really started training ninety percent to get ready for it and ten percent to show them I was serious. »

He laughs about it now, but Marshall can´t imagine any movie being any harder  to make. « Towards the end of the shoot, when I was not allowed to stop and I hadn´t eaten anything in a week, I was really  burnt out. That last month-and-a-half of boxing was gruelling, it was twelve hours every day. »

After Gladiator comes the big screen Twin Peaks movie, Fire: Walk With Me (for which, when the movie was on the brink of financial disaster, Marshall offered to work for free).

« It was great playing James Hurley again, » he says, « I got bored with it on the series because there was nothing for me to do. They gave me the same scene over  and over again. Mean and moody, getting on the motorcycle, off the motorcycle, on again… » But don´t tell Marshall his classic good looks make him good movie star material.

« I ain´t no movie star,  » he insists, « Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, they´re movie stars. »

Having also just finished Rob Reiner´s military court room epic, A Few Good Men, alongside Cruise and Nicholson and current sparring partner Cuba Gooding Jnr, in which Marshall has a pivotal role, perhaps he knows what he´s talking about. Rather, he thinks of himself as a regular guy, with a five acre ranch in Malibu which he shares with his wife, Ana, a horse trainer whom he wed eight months ago.

« It´s a serious adjustment, » he says of married life. « Before, I was Mr Anarchist. It had got to the point where everything could hurt me, so I just blocked out everything. I had to let down all my walls, and so did she. It´s not a complete cure for loneliness but it eases a lot of pain during everyday life, just to have somebody to talk to and hang out with. »

Edwin J Bernard
Sky Magazine, Juillet 1992.
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