By Jeff Walsh
Many of the actors in Milk didn't just have to play a role, but portray people who were not only still alive but often on the shooting set. The night I was an extra in Milk's crowd scene (the one where Sean Penn as Milk has a bullhorn saying 'I know you're angry. I'm angry, too.') Emile Hirsch was onstage as Cleve Jones. As he and Sean were filming the scene, the crowd would chant things like 'Gay rights now!' and such. In between takes, you'd hear a bullhorn asking Cleve if any other chants were popular at that time, and the real life Cleve Jones would go over to the crew, and give them ideas, which would then be incorporated into the movie. So, at every step of the way, some of the real life people behind Milk not only helped Dustin Lance Back with the accuracy of the script, but they were still there on set, making the film as accurate as possible.
I got the chance to sit down with three of Harvey Milk's friends (shown in this article with the actors who play them in the movie).
Cleve Jones, played in the movie by Emile Hirsch, worked on Harvey's political campaign and later founded the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
Anne Kronenberg, played in the movie by Allison Pill, started as Harvey Milk's campaign manager for his election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. This was the beginning of a long career in politics, and she now services as deputy director for administration and planning of the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
Danny Nicoletta, played in the movie by Lucas Grabeel, worked as a clerk in Harvey Milk's Castro Street camera shop, and is still a photographer in the city. At the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Harvey Milk and mayor George Moscone last week, Nicoletta wasn't there to speak. He was shooting pictures of it for the local press.
This interview was another roundtable, and not me sitting down personally with all three. My question has an asterisk before it, if you care, but what they had to say was interesting enough that I felt it needed to be captured here.
Here's what we said...