“Today is our Independence Day” Bill Pullman’s President Thomas J. Whitmore shouts in one of the most iconic monologues of cinema history in Roland Emmerich’s influential 1996 sci-fi blockbuster, Independence Day. Whilst the film may not stand as Bill Pullman’s greatest ever feat of acting mastery, it is certainly the movie for which he is the most well known, despite having appeared in far more revered projects.
The star of Spaceballs with John Candy, Mel Brooks and Rick Moranis, for a while in the late 1980s and early ‘90s Pullman was an icon of the silver screen. Also appearing in the likes of A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle and Casper, it wouldn’t be until 1997 and his starring role in Lost Highway from David Lynch that he would be considered a great actor in the artistic sense of the word.
As Fred Madison in Lost Highway, Pullman floats around the film like an ethereal spectre, neither here nor there as he tries to uncover the mystery of who is sending him mysterious videotapes. Starring alongside Patricia Arquette, Henry Rollins and Robert Blake, Lynch’s surreal Lost Highway remains Pullman’s finest film to date.
Speaking about the key to David Lynch’s typically enigmatic film, Pullman told Pauline Adamek in an interview: “I didn’t have a lot of questions about what it was about. There was even weirder stuff that he cut out. There was a little visual vocabulary that he had repeating all through my journey”. As the strange protagonist in Lynch’s film, Pullman’s character is accused of killing his wife before going to jail and bizarrely taking the consciousness of another man in another time entirely.
Explaining his stance on the complicated film, Pullman explains: “It’s like an epiphany or a religious transformation…To me the movie always had that way of saying I’m in a raw, intimate situation with a woman and everything that happens around her is evidence of her betrayal”.
When it comes to his own film preferences, it seems as though Pullman is more of a fan of a linear narrative than the scramble of David Lynch’s cinematic puzzles, with the actor revealing to the TV show the Daily Blast that his favourite film is the 1962 classic, Lawrence of Arabia. Directed by David Lean, the same mind behind The Bridge on the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago and A Passage to India, Lawrence of Arabia stars Peter O’Toole and Alec Guinness and is popularly considered as one of the greatest films of all time.
Also a favourite of the influential Steven Spielberg, Lawrence of Arabia stands as a classic biographical epic that would forever change the scope of 20th-century cinema.