When Hollywood attempts to dramatize elements of the military, it usually comes with a respectful effort to ensure that authenticity is maintained at all times. In honor of Veterans Day, the following three movies are all reflective of filmmakers looking to filter the performance of their actors through those who have been on the ground, in one form or another.
In the case of “Forrest Gump,” former Marine Dale Dye was within arm’s reach as the founder and head of the technical advisory company, Warriors, Inc. This Vietnam vet literally made it a business to keep actors on point. His resume includes “Platoon,” “Natural Born Killers,” HBO’s “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific,” and multiple video games, including the Medal of Honor series.
During the 1994 radio roundtable for “Forrest Gump,” Tom Hanks stressed the seriousness of his character’s military scenes.
“The Hurt Locker” and its Iraq War-rooted story of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team may have gotten the Best Picture Oscar in 2010, but real members of the military largely wrote off Jeremy Renner’s hot-headed character as a Hollywood trope that would neither be tolerated nor make sense under actual military conditions. Screenwriter Mark Boal was never in the military, but embedded with one of these EOD squads for two weeks in 2004 as a freelance journalist.
“The idea was just to be authentic and faithful and reportorial to what the human experience of the soldier is like, and in the bomb squad,” Boal said during the film’s June 11, 2009 junket. “Look, it’s a movie. It’s not a documentary. It’s authentic within the context of telling a great story.”
Below, Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow talk about using real an actual bomb disposal robot that had seen action in Iraq and Jordan before its retirement.
During early filming of 2012’s “Red Tails,” about the pioneering group of African American fighter pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen, director Anthony Hemingway had one of the few surviving airmen on set, and it turns out we’re all the better for it.
As Dr. Roscoe C. Brown Jr. recalled during the film’s Jan 9, 2012 junket, he noticed an inadequate amount of swagger in the actors that were hired to portray fictional versions of the pilots, and he made sure to let Hemingway know.