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Benny Golson: Big Time

Benny Golson

Benny Golson didn’t take it very seriously when he got a call from director Steven Spielberg about a possible part in his upcoming film. “I had been contacted several times before by directors, Woody Allen for one, and asked about being in a film,” says the saxophonist and composer. “Every time that I would go in, there would be eight or nine other guys sitting there and in the end someone else would get the job. But this time they told me that there’s no reading, no question, I had the part.”

That part turned out to be a limited yet key role in Spielberg’s latest movie, The Terminal. The film stars multi-Oscar winning actor Tom Hanks, who portrays Viktor Navorski, a passenger from Krakozia, whose passport and visa are invalidated due to a coup that erases his country. Unable to return home or leave the airport’s international lounge, Navorski is literally a man without a country. The reason why Hanks’ character even came to the U.S.? To meet Golson and have him sign a photo. “Hanks and Spielberg are real big jazz fans and were really excited about me being in the film,” Golson says.

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