When director Peter Berg set out to retell the story of four Navy SEALs stuck behind enemy lines, there couldn’t be any half-assing it. He worked hard to convince Marcus Luttrell, the one man to make it out alive, to sell him the rights to his memoir, “Lone Survivor.” He spent a month with a SEAL platoon in Iraq for his research and has dedicated five years, on and off, of his life to bring the story to the screen.
So you can bet that once the Hollywood actors cast in the film show up on set, they wouldn’t be taking it easy.
Berg put his leads, Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster, through their paces on the New Mexico set of “Lone Survivor.” Luttrell and the 10 SEALs that were on set consulting for the film organized a two-and-a-half month boot camp to get the cast into shape. “If you imagine ‘Tropic Thunder’ without any of the jokes, that was what these guys went through,” Berg told MTV News in an interview for our Fall Movie Preview.
“They were very curious. They learned as best as they could in two months how to operate like Navy SEALs, how to use the weapons, use of the communications equipment, how to move, how to fight. They were all in extraordinary shape. They were thrilled to be able to spend that kind of time with a bunch of SEALs in that kind of environment.”
Physical preparations were only half of the equation for turning actors in believable Navy SEALs. To form the strong brother bond between the leads, Berg found that the conditions of the shoot were enough to make brothers out of anyone.
“I think by removing the trapping of traditional celebrity. These guys had to hike five miles every day to the area where they were shooting. They carried equipment with the crew. Lunch was a sandwich put in your back pocket,” Berg said. “There were no trailers. If you needed to go to the bathroom, you walked 30 feet into the woods and took care of your business. When rain came, we got wet. When hale fell, we got slammed. When lightning struck, we just hoped it didn’t hit us.”
“Lone Survivor” opens wide on January 10.
From “Romeo and Juliet” to “Ender’s Game,” “Riddick” to “Oldboy,” the MTV Movies team is delving into the hottest upcoming flicks in our 2013 Fall Movie Preview. Check back daily for exclusive clips, photos and interviews with the films’ biggest stars.