THE HURT LOCKER examines the dangerous duties of three members of the Army’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) squad. Bombs are their business, and they know their business extremely well. They have to because each roadside stop could mean their lives. Stars Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, and Brian Geraghty, director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal broke down for us how you tackle a movie about an elite unit that goes in when everyone else is running away.
It’s as meticulous a task as disarming an IED (That’s an Improvised Explosive Device for you civilians).
Anthony Mackie: The great thing about this film is it’s not about the war. It’s not about Kathryn putting a political stamp on who should be president or anything like that. It’s a psychological drama about these three guys and the war is the backdrop.
Jeremy Renner: It’s about an interesting job and fascinating characters. It could have been about bull riders or some job I’m not very familiar with but still think is fascinating, and you throw in these characters, and that’s what it is to me.
Kathryn Bigelow: I tried to remain unresponsive to the other Iraq films out there. This [our film] was about a bomb squad, and the bomb squad is universal. I think of it as a war film and not a reintegration of the home front. And predominantly it’s based on first hand observation.
Anthony: [The filmmakers] liked the dynamic between Brian and I. We had worked together on We Are Marshall. And with Jeremy being such a strong presence, if you had three Jeremy Renners it was just going to be a headache. You needed the awkward guy, and the other guy to make the triangle work.
Brian: I texted Anthony after my audition and said, hey man, I just ruined this opportunity I had, but there’s a great role in there for you. And he said, that’s so funny, I’m trying to work it out with them, they’ve offered me the job. And was like, of course they did.
Anthony: Most of my research was done online. I had done weapons training before, so I knew my way around a piece. I was in North Carolina so I went over to Fort Bragg and met with some guys there and just chopped it. The military mentality is just so different. I just wanted to be around those guys and talk to them and study them. All the tactical stuff would just come when we got there.
Jeremy: I did intense training for a couple weeks. Strictly EOD. I only wanted to be informed about the movie we were making, and not boot camp or anything like that. It was a great opportunity to sit down with these guys and pick their brains and learn, but not too much about them until you get some booze inside, cause everything’s top secret.
Brian: Jeremy was a tremendous resource for us because he was really educated on the subject and had trained with all the guys in the year he had been attached to the project. A lot of it was all textbook. We’d quiz each other.
Jeremy: That suit was two things: it was informing, and it was hell. I couldn’t keep the helmet on longer than twenty-five minutes cause it was too damn hot. There are lots of parts to it. There’s a diaper. It’s made of Kevlar to protect you. It’s not a “diaper” diaper.
Anthony: It’s much easier when you have the backdrop of the reality that you’re playing in. If you’re doing a movie that’s supposed to be set in New York and you’re shooting in New York and you’re looking at the skyline and you’re like, “I love New York,” that’s completely different than standing on a green-screen in Dodger Stadium saying, “I love New York.” Jordan was definitely the fourth actor in the film, and it made everything ten times easier.
Mark: We were the first film to shoot in Jordan. There was no big tent when we came. It was like two guys in the back of a room with a coffee pot, “Hey we’re the Jordan Film Commission.” “
“You got any cameras?”
“You got any lights?”
“What do you got?”
“You got us two guys and this pot of coffee!” So they really boned up and were great in terms of giving us access and support.
Kathryn: I found all the hardships to be somewhat romantic, but maybe I’m a member of one.
Mark: She’s a cyborg who doesn’t feel pain, but for the rest of us…
Anthony: That sniper sequence was eight of the worst days of my life. Between the flies, and the heat, and the rogue goats, and the sand storms. You’d be standing out there and all of a sudden a sand hurricane would come through. It took everything in me when they handed me that Hi-C to me to not gulp that motherf**ker. Then that sniper rifle is so powerful that when you shoot it it’s literally like someone kicking you in the chest.
Kathryn: The sand was really punishing. Every time I’d say cut, Anthony, his eyelashes were covered in sand, his head would just go down and he’d be buried in it, and I’d say action and his head would come back up. I remember walking up to him at some point and saying, “Four years of Juilliard,” trying to get him to smile at the whole process.
Kathryn: Goat wrangling was a new one for me.
Mark: You had a thing where there had to be an additive effect with the goats. So the first time you see it it’s one goat, and then three, and four, like The Birds, until it’s a flock of goats.
Kathryn: A flock of goats? A herd? A herd. So there you are with all your reporting skills screaming.
Mark: Trying to make that happen for you. But there’s an Albanian shepard guy who had no idea what I was saying, letting one go at a time.
Anthony: I’m the only motherf**ker that’s never been to Kathryn’s house. I told her you find a brotha on your porch you know what’s goin’ on. Everybody’s been to her house. Jeremy went over and they had tea and sh*t. Brian went over and did his audition there. We met at the Four Seasons. I was like, are you serious? With all these old dudes and hookers? Take me to your house!
THE HURT LOCKER opens in select theatres on June 26th.
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