A Conversation with Gary Sinise
H&K: We want to wish you a Happy Belated Birthday. You birthday was March 17th. A St. Patrick’s Day baby.
SINISE: (laughs) I am, yes. Always have been (laughs).
H&K: Your band, The Lt. Dan Band, performs quite a bit for the USO. That must be very rewarding to give the soldiers those moments of time that makes them forget, briefl y, what they are in the middle of and allows them to just let loose and have a good time.
SINISE: Yes. They are always appreciative when we come around and we enjoy playing so much for the troops. We’ve done almost fifty shows in the last three years for the USO and other troop related organizations. That’s a rewarding thing to be able to do for them and their families.
H&K: It is a great thing you’re doing. And you are planning a European USO tour in May aren’t you?
SINISE: Yes, this will be our second trip to Germany and Belgium. We were there a couple years ago and the year before that we went to Korea, Singapore, Diego Garcia. So this will make our third USO oversees tour. And we’ve done two or three bus tours in the states where we get on a bus and we go around and play fi ve or six bases in the states on a two week tour. That’s all on my hiatus from CSI:NY show and during the television season I’ll get on a plane and fl y out for the weekend and play shows around the country. We also play corporate, casinos and clubs. That kind of thing. We’re a pretty busy band.
H&K: There’s something that means a lot to you called “Operation Iraqi Children”, which is an organization you co founded. Can you tell our readers about this?
SINISE: Sure. My second trip to Iraq was in November of 2003 and on that trip I was able to go out and visit some schools. I recognized that the schools I visited were lacking in just basic school supplies. So I wanted to do something to continue to support the troops over there while I was at home. We started shipping over school supplies from the school that my kids went to and out of that collection we did there, I teamed up with Laura Hillenbrand who wrote “Seabiscuit” and we founded “Operation Iraqi Children” and started a web site www.operationiraqichildren.org and then started shipping these supplies over. Now we’re partnered up with another great humanitarian organization run by Mary Eisenhower, called People to People International, founded by her grandfather, Dwight Eisenhower. They have provided us with a staff and a warehouse in Kansas City. So people can go to our web site and they can follow the instructions and ship us supplies and we’ll send them over to the kids in Iraq. The troops take them out and give them to the kids all around the country. You can also make a monetary donation and we’ll buy the supplies, put them together and ship them over there. It’s a great way to support the troops because when they take these supplies out it’s a big moral booster for them and a great way to help these little kids.
H&K: And it’s building a bridge that we need there as well.
SINISE: Yes. It’s really a win, win situation. You know some of these small villages don’t have access to say a grocery store where you can just go in there and buy a bunch of pencils and things. So when one of our convoys pull in and start unloading these supplies along with soccer balls, stuffed animals and various things the kids would enjoy, that’s a very good day for the troops and it’s a very good day for the kids.
H&K: And the kids remember that Gary. You know that’s the thing with kids… once they have a memory like that, that will last them their whole life.
SINISE: Well that’s what we’re hoping for. It’s kind of like the American GI’s bombing Berlin and then two days later walking through handing out chocolate and pencils to the kids coming out. In fact we have a wonderful story on the front page of our web site where this German American, who was about a fi ve or six year old kid when his village was bombed in Germany, wrote in and sent us some money and said he wanted to make a donation because he remembered when the American GI’s came through his village and it was bombed out and they started handing out chocolate and pencils, and he never forgot that. He wanted to come to America after that. The guy moved here years later and became an American citizen. So he wanted to give some of these kinds of things so our troops could hand them out to the kids in Iraq.
H&K: You have done so many movies over your career. What is your favorite fi lm and why?
SINISE: Oh gosh… I’d say “Of Mice and Men” is one of my personal favorites because I produced it, directed it and acted in it. It was just kind of one of those personal missions to get that made. And I was lucky enough to get a studio to back it.
H&K: It’s a great movie. As far as your career, you’ve done it all in front as well as behind the scenes. Do you prefer one over the other or both equally?
SINISE: It all depends. I’ve enjoyed directing certain things like “Of Mice and Men” like I said. I’ve also played many wonderful roles and enjoyed those as well as the theatre work I’ve done. I own my own theatre and have done quite a bit with that. Right now I’m just very content to be on such a good series with a good group of folks enjoying playing the character.
H&K: The theatre company, Steppenwolf, you started when you were only eighteen right?
SINISE: Yes, that’s right.
H&K: That’s quite a feat at that age.
SINISE: (laughs) Well, I guess I couldn’t think of anything else to do. (laughs)
H&K: Why do you think the CSI shows have become so popular?
SINISE: Well I think that everyone likes a good mystery and they like to try to fi gure out “who done it” and cop shows continue to be reinvented and they do well. I think that’s what CSI did. It started to look at a crime and mystery story through the eyes of a forensic scientist. And they made it very, very sexy and very stylish and very cool with the rock music and all the montages.
H&K: Most of your roles for television and fi lm are serious characters. Do you get offered any comedic roles and would you consider them?
SINISE: (laughs) Sure! (laughs)
H&K: (laughs) Would you?
SINISE: I’d consider one. But right now I’m Mr. CSI. I look for DNA and stuff.