Scott Glenn 'Stole' His Hunt For Red October Performance From The Genuine Article

Director John McTiernan's 1990 thriller "The Hunt for Red October," which tells the story of a Soviet submarine captain gone rogue, gets much of its panache from its strong character development and commitment to prioritizing the story over the action. Marko Ramius (Sean Connery), the commanding officer of the Red October, is of course one of the most complex men in the entire film (I mean, the whole movie is basically about trying to figure out just what his end game actually is), and CIA analyst, Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) gets points for his ready-for-anything attitude and plucky demeanor. However, there's one character who doesn't get nearly enough credit for his badass ability to lead a crew, and that's Commander Bart Mancuso.

Played by Scott Glenn, Mancuso is the commanding officer of the USS Dallas. Thanks to the supreme sonar skills of Petty Officer Jones (Courtney B. Vance), Mancuso's crew is responsible for discovering and tracking the defecting Red October, and their success is largely due to Mancuso's venerable leadership. Though initially he may come off as gruff and unwilling to deviate from his chosen plan of action, he can be reasoned with, and a large part of his charm comes from Glenn's stellar performance. But Glenn's role as Mancuso wasn't just something he threw together off the cuff. Instead, it was a deliberate impersonation of a real-life person.

From submarine to screen

Scott Glenn is no stranger to the armed forces. When he was younger, he served as a marine in the United States Marine Corps. For his role as Commander Bart Mancuso in "The Hunt for Red October," Glenn was able to return to the military — albeit this time with the United States Navy — by joining real-life Admiral Tom Fargo (who was then Commanding Officer) aboard the submarine, USS Salt Lake City.

In an interview on The Rich Eisen Show in December 2020, Glenn explained his preparation for his "Red October" role: "The research for that film was, for me, a lot of fun. I got to go out on a fast attack sub doing war games." While aboard the vessel, Glenn paid special attention to Fargo. "While we were out on the boat, I watched the way that he dealt with his crew and decided rather than, you know, [using] whatever limited amount of talent I have, I should just steal the whole performance from him because he was perfect. Which I did."

Two commanders on board

In a 2003 behind-the-scenes special titled "Beneath the Surface: The Making of 'The Hunt for Red October,'" Glenn detailed Fargo's approach to having him aboard his submarine:

"He said 'Scott, I hope you don't mind but I've given orders to all the guys on board to treat you as equal rank with me, so every time for the next few days that we're out, when someone comes up and reports to me, they're gonna turn right around and they're gonna report to you. And then I'm gonna tell you what we're gonna do about it.' He said, 'There may be once or twice when I'm gonna ask you to just go to your quarters when we'll be dealing with stuff that's Top Secret, that's classified.'"

Fargo's willingness to allow Glenn to shadow him during his time aboard the Salt Lake City really helped him to craft his role as Mancuso. Glenn added that Fargo's help "was like giving [him] an acting lesson" that directly led to his performance in "The Hunt for Red October." And because Glenn based his entire performance on the man who would eventually go on to become the Commander of the United States Pacific Command, that explains why Mancuso is such a bonafide badass in the film.