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GIs in Space

Kurt Russell takes the long view of American history -- stretching thirty years into the future. He plays an galactic warrior c. 2025 in "Soldier," but he sees a direct line between his character, Todd, and the 1944 grunts in "Saving Private Ryan."

"It's interesting that these two movies are coming out the same year," says Russell. "In both movies, the job of the soldier is so highly unappreciated: It's just expected."

There's a significant difference, though, between Ryan's G.I.s and the fighters in Soldier. The sci-fi actioner presents a future in which war has become so efficient that it's fought by men who have been trained since birth in the art of killing. "This is the ultimate form of child abuse," Russell explains. "Their childhood has been taken away from them."

Todd's a washed-up veteran of numerous galactic conflicts, discarded on a huge garbage planet. He's nursed to help by a group of colonists -- pioneers who crashed on the planet years ago -- and they teach him what it means to be human. When a new breed of super-soldiers, led by Jason Scott Lee, attack the outpost, Todd is called to defend his adopted home.

For Russell -- an actor who got his start as a ten-year-old in Disney movies -- the killing machine of "Soldier" is a distinct change of pace. But that's one reason why director Paul Anderson wanted to cast him. "Kurt was always my first choice," says Anderson. "He's a nice guy -- which is why I wanted him to play this brutal killer. I thought it would shock people who come to see 'a Kurt Russell movie.'"

-- Sean Doorly
(Written for Premiere Magazine Online)