Cooke himself tells us what it was like to go head to head with Arnold Schwarzenegger
The tale of a man (Arnold Schwarzenegger) whose daughter is stolen from him, and in true 80's revenge style retaliation, he is then forced to kill everyone in his way to get her back. This my friends, is quite possibly the best action film of the 1980s. With its sheer, visceral, unapologetic and humorous action scenes, this is one of those movies that crosses all lines and generations and puts a staple on everything you've come to enjoy from action movies since.
Recently, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Bill Duke who played Cooke in this landmark film to talk about the release of Commando: Director's Cut.
Did you, Arnold or anyone else have any idea at that time that you guys were making one of the greatest, if not the greatest, action films of the 1980s?
Bill Duke: No idea. We were just having a good time and it was one of those experiences where everybody came together and it all clicked. To see how well everybody, from Alyssa Milano, to everybody else has done, just that that has happened has been a great privilege. We had no idea. Actors come to work to do the best job we could.
What is your fondest memory of making Commando?
Bill Duke: I think the fondest memories were the laughs on the set because Arnold is a funny human being. He's just great to work with and the laughter you know? Keeping a straight face through the fight scene, but it was really one of those positive experiences that you look forward to coming to work everyday. That overall thing was great.
Now, other than those laughs that you mentioned do you a have a fondest memory of working with Arnold? Because you guys worked pretty close together there?
Bill Duke: Yes, I think the fight scene at the hotel where one of the thing that he would always say to the stunt guys was to make sure that I was protected. He made sure that I was safe. That just shows you that he's caring and that he's a professional. Even if the stunt guy wanted to do it it was, "Lets just practice it one more time to make sure." He cared that much.
Where there ever any moments where despite all that you cracked Arnold or he cracked you?
Bill Duke: There was that one time when I fell backward. That was half a stuntman doing it and a couple of times I did it. One time when I fell back I came too close to the spike and I hit my arm on the table, so that was not the most pleasant moment. These things happen...
How long did it take for you guys to shoot that fight scene?
Bill Duke: I think it was a good half day.
Do you, in any way, see the Mac character in Predator as a continuation of the Cooke character from Commando? Only this time you and Arnold were on the same team?
Bill Duke: To be honest with you no... I played a totally different person for that character. I just felt that that person was on a mission, these guys collectively had known each other for a very long time and had worked together on other missions and this was a special mission they were going on. I think they can be seen as related in certain ways but I tried to create a new person.
Why do you think that audiences loved Commando so much? I was 12 when I saw it and I must've seen it around 8 times in the theater?
Bill Duke: I think partly it's the action. I know a lot of it is Arnold but also the way it was written. No one took themselves too seriously. As you know it's the tongue and cheek stuff. When I drive the car through the window the line, "You know the best thing I like about this car?" The guy says, "What?" I say, "The price." (Laughs) Then I drive it out the window! He has lines like that too in the movie. It's the style that he kind of created as a persona in Hollywood. Whether it's Commando or Predator, whatever he was in, he'd always kind of comment on himself. He never took himself too seriously and I think that's part of why people loved him.
We loved you guys. The good guys and the bad guys... we hated to not see you be in the movie anymore.
Bill Duke: (laughs) Right. I agree.
Have you had a chance to screen the new director's cut of Commando?
Bill Duke: No, I haven't seen it yet.
Commando: Director's Cut comes to DVD September 18 from Fox Home Entertainment.
Dont't forget to also check out: Commando