Actor Voight as eager to talk politics as he is moviemaking

Kyle Hopkins
Actor Jon Voight is in Anchorage working on a film. He's playing an Anchorage police detective in a story about a kidnapping of an 8-year-old girl.
MARC LESTER / Anchorage Daily News
Actor Jon Voight on filming in Alaska: "It gives the film another life. It's much more, it takes it from the generic into the specific and it's the dramatic specific and I have an affection for Alaska because I did "Runaway Train" up here. ... I think visually it turns out to be a very good idea."
MARC LESTER / Anchorage Daily News
Voight on his character in the movie: "I'm one of those tough guys, you know."
MARC LESTER / Anchorage Daily News

You have questions. Jon Voight has answers.

More than 25 years after the premiere of "Runaway Train," Voight is back in Alaska this winter to film an Anchorage-based, supernatural thriller. Tentatively titled "Ghost Vision," the movie stars Voight as a semi-retired Anchorage police detective investigating the disappearance of a young girl.

Something spooky is going on in the story, but Voight won't say exactly what.

"He's a pretty straightforward guy," Voight said of the role. "You know A little wry. Tough. Interesting character. Clint could play the ass off this guy."

On a day off from shooting, the 71-year-old actor spent an hour Friday talking on a range of topics: Moviemaking in Anchorage. Why shooting here reminds him of making "Deliverance." And why he believes Sarah Palin -- yes he'd vote Palin for president -- "saved Alaska" when she resigned as governor.

The "Ghost Vision" cast also includes Dermot Mulroney, who recently wrapped "Everybody Loves Whales," as Voight's police captain. Teri Polo, who plays Ben Stiller's on-screen wife in the upcoming "Little Fockers," portrays the mother of the abducted girl, he said.

A veteran of 75 films and TV shows, from "Midnight Cowboy" to Fox's "24," Voight's known to modern political junkies as an outspoken critic of President Obama and to the TMZ set as Angelina Jolie's father.

In person? Tall and old-school polite. And as eager to talk politics as moviemaking.

Here are excerpts from the interview, edited for length:

Q. How'd you get involved in this project?

A. How did I get to Alaska, that's the question.

Well, whoever wrote this script, which I like very much, this script (called) "Beyond." And it's called up here, the shooting title is "Ghost Visions," or something like that. And anyway the script was written and somehow a draft came out of nowhere that said "Alaska."

And I thought, "Gee that's a good idea." ... It gives the film another life. It's much more, it takes it from the generic into the specific and it's the dramatic specific and I have an affection for Alaska because I did "Runaway Train" up here.

... I think visually it turns out to be a very good idea.

Q. Does it change the story at all to have it set in Anchorage or in Alaska?

A. It doesn't change the story. It could have been anywhere. But it does something to dramatize the piece. I think it helps. I like the atmosphere. You know, there's always something else playing. The weather, you know the environment. It just adds drama to these sequences. It's fun.

Q. What can you tell me about the story? What's the movie about?

A. Well it's a detective story. It's a whodunit really. And it's about, around a child abduction and then there's a ransom note. And we've got to figure out what the deal is here.

And I play this policeman, detective, who's had a past and I deal very harshly with these characters. I'm one of those tough guys, you know. And you know if I see somebody taking a child ...

The film opens up where I'm, I quickly make an excuse to shoot this guy who has taken this child. Because these multiple offenders you know, when they go through the system, they put them back on the streets where they can take these children, you know?

And obviously I have a background, which we find about in the film, I have very little tolerance for these kinds of villains.

Q. How much longer will you be here?

A. We'll be leaving about the 13th (of December), I think.

Q. That seems like a short time to film.

A. It's very short. Well, it's a small picture. But we'll see. We'll see how we do. We've got to complete it somehow. So maybe it will be extended for a couple days. Right now, we're really chugging on it.

... You work so hard to get each sequence right. And it takes a certain kind of cinematography and shaping of the shots, in order to do a picture with, with, you know, limited budget. You have to be clever. And you also, you have to make a different, an adjustment to the shooting.

Now it can be terrific. For instance, "Deliverance." I did a movie called "Deliverance." This movie was done in very short time. It wasn't set out to be. We just happened to go through it quickly.

... In "Deliverance" I was a younger actor and had this very experienced and very good filmmaker John Boorman. And I used to say to John, I used to say, "Lets do it in one (shot)." And there's some sequences that are very long sequences in that picture. And this (movie) has something of that nature.

Q. Alaska right now is trying to build a film industry. And the goal of film boosters is to follow the lead of Vancouver by offering incentives ... is that a realistic goal given that in Vancouver you can shoot movies set in big cities?

A. Why would you come here if you weren't shooting a film set in a locale like this? It's such a dramatic locale, but that's the excitement of it.

... I'm crazy about the size of the animals. The strength of the people. People have to help each other because the conditions are such that you have to help people to survive.

Q. What were your thoughts on the Alaska U.S. Senate race?

A. I didn't know (the candidates) politics that well. I didn't know the difference. Obviously Joe Miller was represented as a conservative. And Murkowski, while she's a Republican, was less conservative.

I thought it was interesting that she ran as an independent. She didn't want to give up the fight and eventually prevailed. Joe Miller seemed like a good candidate to me. I understood his point of view and I probably agreed with it. It was an interesting drama.

Q. What was it about Miller's views ... he's a tea-party backed candidate, he's a constitutionalist.

A. Well see, I'm a constitutional conservative. I think that's the answer. I think the Constitution is a magnificent document.

I mean when you look at the nonsense. And I'm going to say the nonsense that's going on in Washington these days. With a 2,000-page bill and no one reads it. And they're voting on it? This is a kind of insanity. And it's reprehensible. And they all should be censured because of it. You don't do that. You must know what you're voting on.

Q. What are your thoughts on Sarah Palin? Are you a fan?

A. I'm a big fan. I think she's a remarkable person.

May I say this, to the Alaskan people? I think you should be very proud of her. She certainly represents the spirit of the Alaskan.

She certainly loves her Alaska. She loves it. But there's something extraordinary in her. She's very smart. And the attacks against her, even just based on the attacks against her, I would like her. Because all these mean-spirited people try to find something wrong with this very admirable person. It's quite transparent that they're just bad-intentioned folks trying to bring down this very nice gal.

Q. Would you vote for her for president?

A. I sure would. I sure would vote for her if she was running for president.

... Some people have said that they were upset with her for leaving the governorship when she did. I disagree with those people. I think she saved Alaska with that move. She had capable people who were going to take over ... She was being attacked, she was being prevented from governing. And they knew it. That's what they were intending to do.

They were going to bring her down. She had to answer all of these nonsense lawsuits and everybody who's gone through one lawsuit knows the stress that puts on you. The time that it puts on you. The money it draws from you. She was being destroyed in her governance of the state and in her personal well being.

What she did was she took the target and moved it. She took it away from Alaska. Great. She did a great service there. And smart as hell.

Q. As an outspoken conservative, do you find that affects your business? Does it affect your ability to get movie roles?

A. I've been working pretty steady. I'm lucky. I'm very fortunate.

Most people in Hollywood are on the liberal side and when I say that, I say, 'Look, I know all these folks.' I'm friendly with all of them, almost.

That I've dug a little deeper, that I made a change in my point of view over the years, based on information. ... Are people talking about me when I'm not around? Yeah, a little bit, but there are also people changing too. Because there's something wrong. There's something off.

Q. What are you working on next?

A. I have nothing on the books except maybe "National Treasure," they've been working on that script for a long time. Maybe they'll do another one. They've been talking about it.

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