The 'Saving Private Ryan' star tells EW Online how he researched runaways to reinvent laid-back Pete Cochran of 'The Mod Squad'

By Sandra P. Angulo
Updated April 05, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Kharen Hill
  • Movie

When Giovanni Ribisi landed the role of Pete Cochran in ”The Mod Squad” (now in theaters), he’d never seen the original 1968-1973 Aaron Spelling TV series on which the movie is based. And he decided, when prepping for the part, that he wouldn’t bother watching old episodes. Instead, Ribisi armed himself with photojournalist Jim Goldberg’s pictorial essay about L.A. runaways, ”Raised by Wolves,” and hit the streets. ”I hung out with these kids you find sniffing glue on Hollywood Blvd. — squatters — and found out some of them actually were born with silver spoons,” the 24-year-old actor tells EW Online. ”That’s how I picture Pete, as one of these punky (rich) kids who wants to see a different aspect of life.”

Ribisi’s take on Pete, however well researched, is a drastic makeover from Michael Cole’s original stoic hipster. Gone are the shoulder-length hair, groovy sunglasses, and low-key slouch; instead, the ”Saving Private Ryan” star portrays a hyperactive, buzz-cut goofball who barks at dogs in murals and constantly crashes the squad’s ’70s roadster. Explains the ever-creative Ribisi: ”I don’t have the looks of Michael Cole, so I had to do something — show them some comedic footwork.”

The Mod Squad

  • Movie
  • R
  • 92 minutes
  • Scott Silver