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Larry King Live

Cast and Crew of `U-571' Discuss the Naval Thriller

Aired April 25, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, it's a blockbuster! The World War II submarine drama "U-571." We'll talk with the movie stars. In Los Angeles, Matthew McConaughey, and with him, Bill Paxton, no stranger to big-screen hits. In New York, Harvey Keitel, who served a stint in the Marines. In Red Bank, New Jersey, singer-turned-actor Jon Bon Jovi. Joining us from the nuclear attack sub USS Helena, "U-571's" technical adviser, retired Vice Admiral Patrick Hannifin. And the commander of the Pacific fleet submarine force, Rear Admiral Al Konetzni. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's McConaughey. Matthew gets worried that I pronounce the name wrong. I'm sorry, Matthew. It's hard to say.

MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, ACTOR: Don't worry about it.

KING: Anyway, this is some movie. The movie is "U-571." It was the No. 1 movie over the weekend. Not surprising. It did over $20 million.

It is breathtaking. There's never been a naval movie quite like it. If I sound like I'm really high on this film, you're right.

We've got all the principals involved with it. Let's get right to it by first asking Matthew, how did you get this? How did you become involved in this?

MCCONAUGHEY: It came to me, I read it. There was a great hero there. It was a great setup in that it was set in World War II. I had been looking for something to get into: one, that was a chance to be a patriot; two, that was a chance to get into some sort of action. This was a legitimate backdrop and something that I was very proud to be a part of.

KING: Liked it right away? Liked it right away?

MCCONAUGHEY: Like it, and grew to like it more after I met with Jonathan a few times, and we talked about...

KING: The director and writer.

MCCONAUGHEY: The director, right.

KING: He'll be with us later.


KING: Bill, how did you get involved?

BILL PAXTON, ACTOR: Again, Jonathan Mostow. I had seen his movie "Breakdown," and here was an opportunity to be in a historical World War II submarine movie. I got to feel like Glenn Ford in this picture.

The romance of the maritime -- I think my favorite book as a kid had to be "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." And just -- I knew they were going to go all out with this film and really spend the money and get these sets right and get these situations right. So it was a -- it was a dream to be in this.

KING: A chance to be child-like again?

PAXTON: Absolutely.

KING: Harvey, how did they get you?

HARVEY KEITEL, ACTOR: Well, I got involved as a former Marine and as an actor, and here was an opportunity to depict some American heroes.

KING: True American heroes?

KEITEL: Yes, and we have to remember that America does have heroes. There was a time when people stood up, volunteered to fight and sacrifice, in many instances their lives, to protect this democracy that we have. And they indeed also stood up to protect the oppressed people of Europe during the time of World War II.

KING: Jon Bon Jovi, how did you get involved?

JON BON JOVI, ACTOR: Well, for me, I auditioned as one of the enlisted men. But Jonathan called me and asked if I could play one of the officers and that he would build a role around it. And though I had reservations about action movies, this one was so intelligent and one that we knew that we were going to be fulfilling the imagery that was left to only our memories by historical films.

Now, we wanted to live up to what the soldiers left us to live up to.

KING: You generally didn't want to do an action movie?

BON JOVI: No. I've been more drawn to the independent films, a little more rich in dialogue and story line. But Jonathan really wrote an intelligent action picture here.

KING: And Vice Admiral Hannifin, who was the technical adviser on this, you're at the Navy submarine -- you're down at the USS Helena, the naval station in Point Loma off San Diego. You're actually at the controls of a nuclear sub, right?

RETIRED VICE ADMIRAL PATRICK HANNIFIN, TECHNICAL ADVISER TO "U- 571": Yes, sir, that's where I am now, Larry. I'm sitting where the diving officer would sit while the ship is submerged and controlling the movements of the ship from here.

KING: And how did you get involved as technical adviser on "U- 571"?

HANNIFIN: Well, Martha De Laurentiis, a co-producer, called me and asked me if I would get together with Jonathan and give him a hand on some of the technical details on how submarines operated. The fact that I had served on an S-boat and had served on a German U-boat after World War II and had three patrols in the Pacific during World War II, I had some good background to help out.

KING: How authentic is this movie?

HANNIFIN: Well, it is -- first of all, it's a fictional account, but as far as the actions and how the actors performed their jobs in carrying out the evolutions of the ship, diving and surfacing and firing torpedoes, I think it's very realistic. There -- no one submarine did all the things that these boats did, but it still makes one great story and has a good deal of historical background to support it.

KING: And it's an amazing plot, an amazing story. It runs switches, and takes you back and forth, and has connections, and Americans wound up on a German boat. I have to ask you this before we talk with Admiral Konetzni and then bring everybody in, why on Earth did you want to go on a submarine?

HANNIFIN: Is that for me?

KING: Yes!

HANNIFIN: Well, I'd just graduated from the Naval Academy. Actually, I applied for submarine service although I'd never been on one. But I knew that it was a place where a young ensign could have a great deal of responsibility very quickly, and he might get lost on a large ship. And it seemed like a logical thing for me to do.

I didn't really know anything about submarines before I reported aboard an old S-boat out here in San Diego in 1944.

KING: And Rear Admiral Al Konetzni is with us as well in studio. He is commander of the complete submarine force in the Pacific fleet. How many ships in your command?

REAR ADMIRAL AL KONETZNI JR., COMMANDER, PACIFIC FLEET SUBMARINE FORCE: Sir, I have right now 26 fast attack submarines and eight Trident submarines.

KING: They're all nuclear, right?

KONETZNI: Yes, sir.

KING: Sir! You're going to say "sir."

KONETZNI: Larry, I'm sorry.

KING: And you're from New York and you're saying "sir," right? You're from Queens and you say...


KONETZNI: They taught me good.

KING: Now, you have a connection with Admiral Hannifin, right?

KONETZNI: I sure do, sir. When I -- Larry -- I qualified in submarines in Guam, and Admiral Pat Hannifin at the time was a squadron commander, submarine squadron 15, and he pinned my dolphins on. And I've never forgotten him for the wonderful times. And thanks, Admiral. You look mighty sharp, by the way, in your uniform.


KING: Why did you want to go on...

HANNIFIN: Still fits.

KONETZNI: I've got to be very frank, Larry. I probably did everything wrong initially. I went to the Naval Academy and never saw it. I saw everything but submarines. They didn't appeal to me. So I went submarines.

As soon as I got to my first submarine, because of great leadership by two skippers who I'll never forget and folks like Admiral Pat Hannifin, and seeing the young American people, I stayed and I've been happy for 34 years doing it, sir.

KING: Do you like -- do you like going under the water?

KONETZNI: I like the excitement. They're the best young Americans that we've had. And I think the camaraderie, the traditions that we've gotten from the World War II folks and before have been phenomenal. And quite frankly, you just never meet a better breed of young men. I'm enjoying it, sir.

KING: How did you like the movie? You saw it just as a viewer.

KONETZNI: I did. I saw it March 24th. And as you probably know, I don't get anything out of this, but it's the best darn thrilling movie I have ever seen in my entire life. You said it before, Larry: It grips you from the very, very beginning to the end. It's wonderful.

KING: But as a Navy guy, do you approach a movie like this apprehensively? Do you say, they're not going to get it right?

KONETZNI: Well, I did. As a matter of fact, when I first saw Bill Paxton, the skipper of that old S-boat, put on his foul weather gear as the ship took its first dive, I said, no, this is a little hunky. Then I realized we had a lot of leakers in those days and that was the right thing to do. It is dramatic. As the admiral said, it's fiction but it shows the way our young heroes lived during World War II.

KING: We're going to talk about that and a lot of other things. That's our subject for the night, "U-571," the No. 1 movie in America. Naval submarines, that's the topic. This is LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You'll be all right, son.



PAXTON: You get them their damn trophy and you get the hell out of there.




MCCONAUGHEY: I think we've got the code book!



UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Success, gentlemen.



UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Everyone below deck!



MCCONAUGHEY: I need speed.

KEITEL: Everything's in German.




MCCONAUGHEY: Incoming! Dive! Dive!


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: When they realize what you've discovered, they'll send every ship in the Navy to destroy you.




PAXTON: Engine room, secure the diesels. Switch propulsion to the battery.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Engine room, secure diesels. Switch propulsion to the battery.

KEITEL: Main induction indicates shut.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Great work skipper.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Passing the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) curve on course on time, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Engine room reports secure diesels. Propulsion switch to battery.

PAXTON: Very well. All ahead two-thirds.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: All ahead, two-thirds, aye.

PAXTON: Mr. Emmett, take her down. Make your depth 150 feet, 10 degree down bubble.

BON JOVI: One-five-zero feet, 10 degree down bubble. Aye, sir.

Chief of the watch, sound the dive alarm. Pass the word along the 1MC (ph). The main valve (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KEITEL: Aye, sir. Passing the word.

Dive, dive, dive.

Sir, main valve (UNINTELLIGIBLE) indicate open.

BON JOVI: Aye, both planes dive 15 degrees.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Both planes dive 15 degrees, aye.

PAXTON: All clear. Decks a-wash.

BON JOVI: Decks a-wash. Aye, sir. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's a second of what this is like for two hours. Would you actually do this for a living? Would you go into a submarine?


KING: Yes.

MCCONAUGHEY: Well, luckily I haven't had to. I haven't had the choice to thanks to wars like this.

KING: Did you get to feeling (UNINTELLIGIBLE) like that?

MCCONAUGHEY: I mean, to what extent -- to what extent I have no idea. Again, we're out there recreating. We shoot for 12 hours, we get to go in a warm tent. So you know, these men were down there for such a long time. And we know -- I mean, try to recreate the intensity or the fear and the courage that these guys had when you're getting depth charged. I mean, they tried to sink our boat in every way possible I think you can sink a boat. But I'm sure it's nothing in comparison.

KING: But what about the -- we're going to go take you through this nuclear sub in a little while with Admiral Hannifin.

What -- the claustrophobia. Where were you shooting, by the way, Bill?

PAXTON: Well, yes, he was saying we worked 12 hours and then were at (UNINTELLIGIBLE) studios in Rome. So we had a hard time finding a good place to eat at night.

KING: This was you shot in Italy?

PAXTON: We shot in Italy and Malta. We shot all the exteriors, and all the night work was in Malta.

KING: And what kind of ship was it?

PAXTON: All the interior shots...

KING: Or was it just sets?

PAXTON: These were all sets. The S-boats don't exist anymore. They're all gone.

KING: So they had to be built from...

PAXTON: Everything had to be built from scratch and from old blueprints of the old naval architects.

KING: Harvey, could you feel like you were in a sub when you know you're on a set?

KEITEL: Yes, yes. It was done -- the actual boat was recreated, so we had the real boat and we learned how to actually dive a boat. We learned what to do. Admiral Hannifin, by the way, is being sort of modest here. Without his expertise and his courage and his experience during the war, U-571 never would have been the film it is.

KING: Would you serve on a sub, Harvey?

KEITEL: Well, Larry, I'm an old former Marine. The answer to that is yes. In the Marine Corps we learned about commitment, we learned about sacrifice, and the Marine Corps was a right of passage for me and my comrades where we learned about these elements of being -- of going from adolescence to manhood.

And I never had a feeling like that in my life when on Parris Island we graduated, and received the eagle anchor and globe.

The military is a rite of passage for our young men, and gave us a feeling of self and dignity and honor and courage and a sense of commitment.

KING: Harvey went to Lincoln High School, which was the biggest rival of my high school, Lafayette High School, two kids from Brooklyn. Nobody went to the Marines in our neighborhood, but Harvey Keitel would go to the Marines.


KING: Jon Bon Jovi, would you want to be on a sub?

BON JOVI: Not voluntarily, Larry, no.


KING: Did you get...

BON JOVI: You know...

KING: When you are acting in something like that, do you get the feeling like you're in one?

BON JOVI: Absolutely. These ships were built to scale, and with Patrick Hannifin's help, we were able to emulate the men who really dove those subs. But when he would teach us what the commands meant, we pretended that we really knew how to do it. And it would be difficult, but given the opportunity in wartime to serve your country, I'd be proud to.

KING: Before Admiral Hannifin takes us on little a tour -- and that's a nuclear sub he's on; these subs don't exist anymore that's in this movie -- what was it like to cut your hair, Matthew?

MCCONAUGHEY: What was it like?

KING: Did you like getting your hair cut?

MCCONAUGHEY: It was a joy. That's a no-frills cut. I would like to have that daily for the rest of my life if I could. KING: You'd like to have that cut?

You, Bill?

PAXTON: I showed up five weeks after photography had begun with these guys, and when I saw what he had, since played his captain, I knew I had to go all the way. So I got the white walls and I loved that haircut.

KING: White walls.


KING: John, did you like it?

BON JOVI: I looked forward to it, and in fact, all my conversations with Jonathan, I begged for the crew cut. You know, the crew cut was not necessary on a submarine. In fact, those guys were allowed to grow facial hair as well. And when you look at historic pictures, guys had mutton chops, mustaches, beards. Sometimes they didn't shave for four or five weeks in a row. But I really looked forward to the short haircut, yes.

KING: Harvey, did you have to change anything?

KEITEL: No, not really much, no. I just tried to establish a look with the help of the wonderful talent we had working on the film. The talent, the Italian makeup artists were really brilliant to create the look of that period.

KING: We'll be right back with more, and the admiral is going to take us through the nuclear sub, and both admirals are going to talk about it. We're going to relive an adventure here for you.

The movie is "U-571," did over 20 million. Blockbuster hit, deservedly so. Right back.


KEITEL: Everything's in German!

MCCONAUGHEY: Back to the torpedoes! Which god damn one is she?

(UNINTELLIGIBLE) on the helm (UNINTELLIGIBLE) take the plane.


KEITEL: What about this?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I don't know. I don't know. There's no label.


These are the midship vents and these are the main induction valves. MCCONAUGHEY: Tank, Tank, I need speed.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Lights are on, so there's got to be some power left in those batteries.

KEITEL: I can't read this.

MCCONAUGHEY: Ray, find out how many (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we've got and figure out how to launch them! Go!

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I can't read this!

MCCONAUGHEY: Go! Help Tank, Hirsch. Go!


MCCONAUGHEY: Klar, klar, klar. What the hell is "klar"?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Klar is clear. All departments secure.

MCCONAUGHEY: White for green?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: White for green.




KING: We're back. We're going to take you back down now to Point Loma, California, the USS Helena. That's a nuclear sub. It's at the naval station there. And the technical adviser on "U-571" is retired Vice Admiral Patrick Hannifin, and he is on that ship at this minute. And there you see it in dock, and we're going to go back to him. And he is in the control room.

Can you tell us, vice admiral, where exactly you are? What is that behind you? Where are you?

HANNIFIN: Well, I'm sitting where the ship is controlled when it's submerged, or really when it's on the surface also. I'm sitting at the diving officer's station. To my left are two seats with the yolk-type arrangement that you see on an aircraft, and they control the diving planes as well as the rudder. They also can issue orders from here back to the propulsion unit to increase or decrease speed. They can put dive on the planes to make it go deeper, come back up.

Around behind me, all the lights that you see is a station where the chief of the boat would be. That was Harvey's role in "U-571."

KING: He was chief? HANNIFIN: Yes, the chief of the boat. And the senior chief -- the senior enlisted man on the boat, and he's responsible to make sure that all the outside openings are closed when you're submerged.

KING: Good idea.

HANNIFIN: Not a bad idea. In submarines, the ocean is your enemy, and the one thing you don't want is the ocean in the same room with you.


KING: Where's the periscope?

HANNIFIN: The periscope is just to my right. There are two periscopes here.

This ship is far more complex, of course, than we were in World War II. And in fact, the old S-boat and even the U-boat were submarines that were much simpler and much smaller.

This ship is about 7,000 tons almost. The U-boat and the S-boat were around 600 tons.

KING: Admiral Konetzni, who's sitting next to me, were you on a ship like this?

KONETZNI: Yes, sir. I commanded a ship that was in a former class, and it was the USS Grayling, one of our sturgeon class. These are all 688 class. And Helena is a 688-improved class. She's the one that has not only rockets and torpedoes in the torpedo room, but has the 12 vertically launched Tomahawks. Very, very impressive ships.

KING: How long can it stay under?

KONETZNI: It can stay under as long as the human beings will allow it to, quite frankly.

KING: You meant it could just -- six months?

KONETZNI: Yes, sir. We've deployed for six months. The longest period of time that I've seen folks actually submerged, Larry, about 85 to 90 days. That gets a little old.

The only limitation is your food. Everything else is completely enclosed. We can go forever and ever and ever.

KING: How many of these do we have?

KONETZNI: Well, we have right now 57 fast attack submarines in the Navy. I own 26 -- I operate 26 of those right now. I forgot to mention before, I really do have one diesel boat, but it's an experimental boat, the Dolphin. So all the diesel folks out there I don't want to get angry at me.

We have too few submarines right now and struggling right now. Since the end of the Cold War, the number of submarines that we have has been halved, and the number of operations that we do in peacetime -- I'm talking surveillance operations, engagement with our dear friends, our allies -- they've doubled. So the work is hard on our fellows.

KING: Take a break, and when I come back, I'll ask you why it's important and why it's important now when there doesn't seem to be any sort of great threat.

We'll be right back with the cast and the crew and the people who advised "U-571." Don't go away.


MCCONAUGHEY: Get ready to fire a spread!




MCCONAUGHEY: What's going on?


MCCONAUGHEY: Get those fish out of the boat before they blow!


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: One, two away. Lining up tubes three and four!

MCCONAUGHEY: Three and four, fire!

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: All fish running (UNINTELLIGIBLE) straight and normal.



KING: As Bill Paxton just said, his last boat movie didn't do too bad either. It was only "Titanic."

Anyway, admiral, we'll start with Admiral Hannifin back on our boat there. We call it a boat or a ship?

KONETZNI: We call it both, sir. In World War II, it was a boat.

KING: It was a boat in World War II.

Why are these still important, admiral?

HANNIFIN: You're talking to me or...

KING: Yes, you.

HANNIFIN: Admiral Konetzni is the guy who runs these things. They're important because they still have a number of missions that they can accomplish in addition to just sinking other submarines and surface ships. In fact, they have the stealth and the long-range ability -- they can get places where no other ship can go. They can go there quietly, unknown or known. And...

KING: How long, Admiral Konetzni, is the training to, say, work on a ship like this?

KONETZNI: Well, our sailors and officers, our nuclear-trained folks, will go through a year of training, then their submarine school training. So you're talking about a year and a half. That training is equivalent of going to college for two years. It's the best training I've ever had in my life, Larry.

KING: How fast can this boat go?

KONETZNI: This ship can do greater than 30 miles an hour. And she can run forever and ever and ever.

KING: When you're underwater, do you bounce?

KONETZNI: Sir, there is very little sensation when you are submerged. That's why submariners love it so much, Larry. Once we submerge, it is...

KING: You mean no waves bouncing you around?

KONETZNI: Not at all. If you have terribly high seas, you could feel that all the way down to 400 feet. But for the most part, once you submerge, it's all the comfort in the world. I think that's why I love it so much.

KING: Yes, but that's...

PAXTON: And the grub's good too.

KING: Yes, the food better be good.

KONETZNI: No doubt about it.

PAXTON: The get the best grub in the Navy.

KONETZNI: Best chefs in the world.

KING: But that adds, don't you think, Jon, to the intensity of this, the fact there are no waves bouncing you around?

BON JOVI: Oh, that would be comforting.

KING: Yes, but then you're thinking about a depth charge coming and at least you're not moving anywhere -- it's got to be scarier.

BON JOVI: I think it would be very scary to not be able to see the enemy. It would be very difficult. That's why I have so much respect for the men who serve.

KING: Yes, I can imagine why you do. We're going to break now, and we'll come right back with more. We'll be including your phone calls. We're going to meet the director in a little while, and we're going to have a surprise phone-in call as well. Don't go away.


KING: In a little while, we'll be meeting the director. We've talked so much about Jonathan Mostow. We're going to ask him to join us. He also wrote this, and he's had it kicking around for 10 years, by the way, "U-571."

OK, Admiral Konetzni, the importance of this you've explained. The need for it you've explained. These are expensive, though, and when you don't have a country gripped in fear, how do you sell them?

KONETZNI: We have had a difficult time since the end of the cold war, Larry, to explain to the American public how important these vessels are in peacetime. I think we've made great progress. As I've mentioned before, in peacetime, we do 40 percent of our work when we're deployed doing surveillance, spy work, call it what you like, surveillance. A big chunk to engagement friendship with our allies. That business has doubled. And it begs the question -- it's like this war -- this warfare flick that is so wonderfully done. It begs the question: Can we ever as America do we ever want to let a potential competitor -- I never use the word "threat" -- a potential competitor to miscalculate? Because that's what started World War II. That's what started Korea. That's what starts most of the these.

Am I worried about a thing like an attack on the United States? Not at all. But a punch in the nose. I'd mentioned there is something wrong with the picture when the obligations -- and it's the same thing across the board in the Navy, but I know my business obligations double, Larry, and the number the platforms that we have.

KING: Did you buy the script, Admiral Hannifin, when you read about -- I know that there is a true story that happened with the British Navy and the like, and I'll ask the director about it -- but the script, the idea of Americans on a German ship?

HANNIFIN: Oh yes, it made good sense to me. It made a good story, too, and a perfectly reasonable one, and I've been asked whether an American submarine crew could really go aboard a German ship and operate it, and in this circumstance in the movie, they not only can, they do. Fortunately, they have two people with them, Radioman Wentz and Lieutenant Hirsch, who speak and read German, but they know what they're looking for when they go aboard that ship. They know that they've got to submerge the ship, and they know the things to look for, and therefore, they can do it.

KING: Did you like your character, Matthew?

MCCONAUGHEY: Did I like my character?

KING: Yes. You don't have to like your character. MCCONAUGHEY: No actually, I fell in love with my character quite a bit. Taught me a lot about leadership. Taught me about, you know, duty. There is a clarity about this war. There is a clarity about the duty that needed to be done.

KING: You gave Tom Brokaw's book to all these people. You gave "The Greatest Generation" to everybody on the film?


KING: Because?

MCCONAUGHEY: Today, I mean, I look at myself and my generation, I've had the luxury and most people, you know, my age have had the luxury to -- haven't had to have a sleepless night wondering if the next morning I'm going to get called to duty. That's wonderful and grateful, and that's something that this second World War did for us, gave us that luxury. But we also have had a tendency to become maybe a little bit flabby of a society and -- I'm talking about clarity, again, and talking about duty. It's not as easy to define today. I mean, we have a lot more time on our hands time. We have a lot more time to be contrary. We have a lot more time to see our ideals become reality. I think at this time, it was very clear. You had to sense -- there was a whole in this. There a sense of a sense of a nation, and our allies, and there was a clear sense of right and wrong and good and evil. That's hard to come by.

KING: Did you like your character, Bill?

PAXTON: To play a captain, any kind of a sea captain.

KING: But a by-the-book captain.

PAXTON: By-the-book captain.

KING: Captain who likes tell his friend he's not ready to be a captain.

PAXTON: Well, Admiral Hannifin gave me a great treatise by Joseph Conrad about what it means to be a sea captain, and it's the man who can turn to no other man at a time of emergency or peril at sea. When you think of the responsibility of a lieutenant commander of a submarine, the privileges -- I mean, the responsibilities far outweigh the privileges of being in that position, and that's why it's given what they call the time-honored sea-faring title of captain.

KING: Did you get a new appreciation for the men of World War II?

PAXTON: Oh, absolutely.

KING: Because you weren't born in WWII.

PAXTON: No, I was not born. My dad was on the Army/Air Force, a radio operator on the Rockefeller Estate on Tarrytown. I got you on that one, dad. But we all of us as actors had a great unity and integrity of purpose.

KING: You did feel that?

PAXTON: To get this right for the guys, even though it's a fictional story. I read many accounts as harrowing as what you see in this movie, and we felt a great responsibility to them.

KING: Jon, did you feel the same way?

BON JOVI: I did. I was very proud to be a part of that crew. And I have to say that Matthew McConaughey was such a great leader on the set, that as actors, it was easy to want to follow him, and I know when I left there, I knew I'd follow him into battle any time.

KING: No kidding?

BON JOVI: Yes, that's a fact.

KING: In other words, it became more than just a movie, he was a leader on the set as well?

BON JOVI: That's a fact. Yes, he absolutely was. He set the pace for the workload and was tireless in his efforts. He slept on the set. He slept in a little cramped dressing room on the set and inspired the rest of us to make sure that, for myself, to stand up to what he was doing every day. Absolutely.

KING: Certainly, of all the actors in this film, Harvey, you're the veteran.

You ever had an experience like this?

KEITEL: Well, I've had the privilege to serve with some wonderful men as a young marine in Beirut back in 1958, when Marines and power troopers were sent in there.

I just would like to say, Larry, if you you'll permit me, the admiral said a moment ago there are too few submarines. I'd like to say that I think there are too few young men who are sharing in serving to protect this Democracy that we have, and they are also missing out on sharing the experiences of different cultures, different religious beliefs by serving in the military.

KING: You're very proud you served in the military?

KEITEL: I'm very proud to have been a marine, yes.

KING: And you were a kind of rebellious kid going in, weren't you?

KEITEL: Me and my pals, Moose in Pittsburgh, were looking for experience walking the streets of Brooklyn, and we were fortunate enough to wind up in the Marine Corps, which gave us a sense of identity, pride, the experience of sacrifice. And in that experience of sacrifice and learning to endure and suffer, we felt good about ourselves. KING: And, Admiral Konetzni, you walked the streets of Queens?

KONETZNI: Without a doubt.

KING: Not many Queens kids get to run a nuclear subgroup.

KONETZNI: Larry, they were wonderful, wonderful moments to be brought up in Queens, New York. Ethnic neighborhood, I loved it.

KING: We'll be back with more and we'll have the director and writer join us. What a story this is, "U-571."

This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


MCCONAUGHEY: Sit tight. As far as he knows, we're all playing on the same team. Everybody wave.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Wave? Sir, we're sitting ducks. If we shoot first, we could blow him out of the sky.

MCCONAUGHEY: We shoot and miss, he's going to radio us in, and that plane is the least of our problems.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: This is crazy. You're going to get us killed.

He's coming around. He's coming around. It's an attack! It's coming right at us! do something!


Rabbit, ignore him.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Do something! It's coming right for us, Robert. It's coming right at us. Do something!


MCCONAUGHEY: Acknowledge me, Steven Parker! Steven Parker, I'm ordering you do not fire that weapon! Get your finger off that trigger!

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Pull the trigger! Pull the trigger!





MCCONAUGHEY: Step away from that bulkhead, Mr. Hirsch. Shock wave of one of these explosions could snap your spine. UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Chief, ever been depth charged.

KEITEL: Once. Off Mermacks (ph) back in World War I. One charge came so close it rattled four teeth out of the skipper's head.


KING: the navy is celebrating Submarine Centennial this year, April 11, 1900, The official birth date of the Navy submarine force.

We're back, blockbuster show tonight with the star's of the hit submarine drama "U-571."

We're joined in Los Angeles by Matthew McConaughey. Got it. With him is Bill Paxton, no stranger to big screen hits. In New York, Harvey Keitel, who as we said, served a stint in the Marines and is very proud of it. And in Red Bank, New Jersey, the singer-turned- actor Jon Bon Jovi. Joining us from the nuclear attack sub USS Helena, "U-571's" technical adviser, retired Vice Admiral Patrick Hannifin. Also in Los Angeles, the commander of Pacific Fleet Submarine Force Rear Admiral Albert Konetzni. And now joining us, the movie's writer and director, Jonathan Mostow.

Is it true this has been kicking around for 10 years.

JONATHAN MOSTOW, DIRECTOR, "U-571": Almost 10 years, about eight years, yes.

KING: You had trouble selling it?

MOSTOW: Well, I wrote it and I put it in a drawer, because I thought who's going to make a -- eight years ago, who's going to make a World War II movie, let alone one set on water. Hollywood was still dealing with "Waterworld" at that point.

KING: A big bomb.

MOSTOW: And it seemed like a prudent idea.

KING: Did you have a tough time then after that, or no?

MOSTOW: No, because I'd made a movie that had been received.

KING: Called?

MOSTOW: Called "Breakdown."

KING: Kurt Russell.

MOSTOW: Yes, that's right, and Kathleen Quinlan. And so then people were saying, what do you want to do next? And I said, well, I have this thing that I've been working on for quite a while.

KING: Are you shocked at all of this the attention, what's happened to it? MOSTOW: The thing that's most gratifying is after working on this for so long -- you know, I set out to make this movie to really celebrate World War II submarining and the bravery of the men that went on those boats.

KING: You weren't alive then.

MOSTOW: No, I definitely wasn't alive then. And the movie came about because I was in San Francisco and I saw a down by Fisherman's Wharf, a sign that said WWII submarine, you can go on it for $2, and I'd never been on a submarine, and went on this thing, and I stepped below decks and I was amazed, I was amazed at the technology that was on one hand very primitive, yet also very advanced for the time, and then I was -- I found it extraordinary. Who are the men that had the courage to go out on these boats, let alone go to sea, let alone get depth-charged by the enemy.

KING: How did you know all the technical stuff? Or that you had help with?

MOSTOW: That I had to learn. It took me a long time. And frankly, Vice Admiral Hannifin was key in that endeavor.

KING: Do you wonder how they did it, Bill, how these guys did that? When you look back even and watch your own film, you must say to yourself, how the hell did they do this?

PAXTON: It was so primitive. You can imagine 42 men on this submarine. There's one toilet. There's no air-conditioning. These were the S-boats. These were boats built by the Electric Boat Company between 1917 and 1924. They were 24 years old. Imagine something that's been in the saltwater that long? It was a horrific -- and in most of the torpedoes -- I guess they were the Mark XIV, they would misfire. They might hit the ship they were trying to sink, and then the torpedo would just bounce off, and so then they'd just go, OK, we know where you are now.

KING: So, Admiral Hannifin, what were the rewards of it?

HANNIFIN: What's that, Larry.

KING: What were the rewards of submarine in service in conditions like that?

HANNIFIN: Well, the greatest reward in World War II was survival, if you lasted through it. But no, just being with those kind of men and officers, and knowing that you contributed an enormous amount to World War II, although we didn't know it at the time, but our submarines in World War II sank about 55 percent of the Japanese merchant fleet and almost a third of their navy. Even though our losses were high in comparisons to other services. We lost 52 submarines and about 3,500 men.

KING: Have you been, admiral, have you been in a ship or a boat when a depth charge was coming down, as in that scene we just saw? HANNIFIN: My very first patrols up in the Yellow Sea in shallow water, we were depth-charged over a period of about eight hours by Japanese escorts after we had sank one of their ships.

KING: Load of laughs?

HANNIFIN: It was noisy, very noisy. And I'm sure I was just as scared as a 21-year-old ensign as these young sailors and actors are in "U-571."

KING: We'll take a break, come back. We'll include your phone calls. This is LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Mr. Tyler, I hear the S-33 breaking up. Wait. I'd hold the submerged U-boat, 010, less than a thousand yards.

KEITEL: What's the heading?


MCCONAUGHEY: All right, right full rudder, steady on 010!

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: All right, sir, right-full rudder steady on course 010, sir!

MCCONAUGHEY: We're back full.

Rabbit. get back there!

KEITEL: Watch your dip.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We got four fish, two deployed, but I can't open the muzzle doors. I can't find the valves.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Enemy submarine close to board. Torpedo in the water! Torpedo in the water!

MCCONAUGHEY: Stay where you are.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Mark your heading to 10 degrees.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Aye, sir. Now passing 320.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Turn, baby, turn. Turn!


KING: Let's include some phone calls.

Waterloo, Iowa, hello.

CALLER: Yes, this is a former sailor. KING: Yes.

CALLER: I was onboard the O-9 in September of 1945, in Groton, Connecticut. We trained on that ship, and I trained students, and while we were there, a captured U-boat was brought into the base there, and I had the opportunity of walking through that U-boat myself.

KING: Have you seen the movie yet?

CALLER: I have not seen the movie. I heard about what you're talking about it.

KING: Well, you'll love it.

CALLER: But Anyway, I had a lot of -- the biggest experience I had while there, the sub that I was on, we sat out there, probably destroyer escorts tried to find us, and we got stuck in the mud, and we got lost, and we was overdue for about five hours, so that my war...

KING: That must have been lot of laughs. You ever been stuck in the mud, Admiral.

KONETZNI: No, sir, thank goodness.


To Austin, Texas.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: I have a question for both of your admirals. What was the role of women, if any, during World War II on submarines? And what is their role today?

KING: Admiral, we'll start with Konetzni?

KONETZNI: Women did not serve in submarines in World War II, and women do not serve in submarines today. Certainly they could. There is absolutely no psychological or physiological privacy on the ship. When you deploy for six months at a time, 90 days, the cost to be able to accommodate women would add to an already high cost, so it's difficult.

KING: Admiral Hannifin, would you agree?

HANNIFIN: I would agree. The biggest difficulty, of course, is the fact that the accommodations are terrible, even on the new submarines, but being completely submerged for months at a time in very close quarters, even on ship this large, it's difficult.

KING: Mililani, Hawaii, hello. CALLER: Yes, Larry, I don't have a question really, but I was wanting to call and say thanks to Rear Admiral Konetzni, because I am on active duty, I'm a submariner, and I worked at one of the commands that fall under his command, and I've had an opportunity to hear him speak. And he's instituted a lot of practices and polices to address the quality of life of our current Pacific fleet submarine force, and I want to give him the brave zulu (ph).

And I also want to thank the crew and the cast for doing an outstanding job as far as the portrayal of the movie, and if nobody is aware of the history, but we've actually lost 52 submarine during World War II, and we consider those boats still on patrol. And I want to thank the cast, and the crew and the director for doing an outstanding job of representing the history behind the submarine force, and especially Mr. Keitel for giving that little comment as far as putting more people in the military, because we definitely need more people.

KING: Sir, you consider every sub that was lost in World War II what?

CALLER: Still on patrol. And every year at the submarine birthday ball, we have a little dedication ceremony to the 52 boats that are still on patrol. We've we lost 3,500 and five men that are still on the sub.

KING: Thank you so much.

Back with our remaining moments on LARRY KING LIVE right after this.


KING: One more call, quickly -- Virginia Beach, hello.


My question is for your admirals.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: I'm the wife of a lieutenant in the Navy, and I'm wondering if they believe movies based on heroic military efforts will help in current recruiting efforts and bring a more positive image out of the military?

KING: Admiral Hannifin, I guess she's referring to things like "Saving Private Ryan" and "U-571." Do you think they help?

HANNIFIN: I hope so. I think it does, particularly in the fact it came out during the centennial year of the submarine force. I think it would.

KING: Do you think Admiral Konetzni?

KONETZNI: I couldn't agree more. I believe that, you know, it's the old business of if American people know the facts -- and I think that Thomas Jefferson and Ronald Reagan said that -- they always do the right thing. This movie puts a beautiful umbrella on what people have done in our Navy and all of our services for many, many years.

KING: You must be very proud, Jonathan.

MOSTOW: I'm very proud.

KING: How do you follow this?

MOSTOW: I sit at home for the summer and try to figure out a new movie.

KING: How about a little love drama set in Waterloo, Iowa.

MOSTOW: Something on land, that's for sure.

KING: How do you follow it, Matthew?

MCCONAUGHEY: How do I follow this? I made another film right after this, which was a little love drama, much lighter fare. After two and a half months, I was like, when are we going to get started compared to the work that we did on "U-571." And right now, I'm just going to enjoy the acceptance that this movie is getting right now.

KING: Bill?

PAXTON: Well, it was gratifying to get the support of the Navy and people like Admiral Konetzni and Pat Hannifin. I'm just so honored to be in the movie and that we pulled it off and...

KING: I don't think I've ever interviewed actors so emotionally involved with a picture they did.

Jon, you feel the same, obviously, right?

BON JOVI: Absolutely. I was proud to have served and been a part of this film. It's something I'll be able to show my children as they get older. Proud to be part of it. I have a day job to get back to now.

KING: Singing?

BON JOVI: Yes, I got a big record coming out, so I have to go back out on the road.

KING: We wish you every good fortune.

Harvey, you're doing a film in New York.

KEITEL: Larry, I just want to take this moment to say thank you the submariners in Groton, Connecticut for welcoming me to the base, and in particular Chief Joe Klough (ph) for all his help.

KING: Harvey, you're doing a movie in New York, or just cooling it? KEITEL: No, I'm pretty busy now. There are a couple of movies coming up for me.

KING: You should be very proud of this one, all of you should.

And as I said in the beginning, you will never see a more intense, better naval film ever than "U-571."

We thank all of guests for being with us.

And we thank you for leading a great ship, Matthew. The crew appreciates it, the entire crew. It was great having you with us.

Stay tuned for CNN "NEWSSTAND."

See you tomorrow night with Maria Shriver.

Thanks for joining us, and good night.



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