Former film critic/journalist-turned-filmmaker Rod Lurie made his directorial debut with 1999’s low-budget political thriller Deterrence. While the film received (mostly) positive reviews and became the first of several political-themed films Lurie would become known for, it hardly set the world on fire. But if Deterrence went unnoticed, Lurie’s follow-up, The Contender, certainly did not. The film (again, political in nature), which starred Gary Oldman, Joan Allen, and Jeff Bridges received positive criticism, won or was nominated for numerous awards, and received two Oscar nominations (for turns by Allen and Bridges).
Lurie soon found himself in a situation every filmmaker dreams about when he was tapped by Steven Spielberg to direct The Last Castle, an action-drama starring Robert Redford, James Gandolfini, and Mark Ruffalo. However, the film had the misfortune of being released in the wake of 9/11 and bombed as a result. Lurie then created the short-lived ABC series Line of Fire and Commander in Chief. In 2008, he returned to feature filmmaking with the political thriller Nothing but the Truth. The film, inspired by (but not based on) former New York Times journalist Judith Miller’s involvement in the Plame Affair, featured Kate Beckinsale in what is easily the finest performance of her career. Unfortunately, Nothing but the Truth did not receive a theatrical release because its distributor (Yari Film Group) filed for Chapter 11 protection.
The following year saw the release of Lurie’s fifth feature, Resurrecting the Champ, which was a sports drama about a homeless man impersonating heavyweight boxer Bob Satterfield. The film, featuring Samuel L. Jackson, Josh Hartnett, and Alan Alda, received an ESPY nomination for Best Sports Film, as well as a Young Artist Award.
Lurie’s next film would be the 2011 remake of the Sam Peckinpah home invasion thriller Straw Dogs. The film would be thrashed critically, although a few critics, such as The Chicago Sun-Times’ Roger Ebert and the New York Daily News’ Elizabeth Weitzman wrote favorably about it. In addition to negative criticism (and more importantly in terms of an artist’s longevity), the film tanked at the box office. As a result, Lurie found himself in directorial purgatory, unable to get the films he wanted to make greenlit. He then made the move many directors in this situation make, transitioning to television, where he directed for multiple series, as well as the telefilm Killing Reagan (based on the book by Bill O’Reilly).
But now, almost a decade later, Lurie has returned with The Outpost, which is his finest film to date. Based on Jake Tapper’s nonfiction book The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor, the film depicts the 2009 Battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan. The Outpost, which is being released in some theaters and on VOD on July 2nd (thanks, Covid-19!), is (in this writer’s estimation) perfect in every way. The writing, direction, cinematography, editing, and score are all top notch, and literally every performance in the film shines. The film stars Orlando Bloom, Scott Eastwood, and Caleb Landry Jones. I have stated elsewhere that I predict this film that will make Scott Eastwood a star. And if there is even a shred of justice in this world, Caleb Landry Jones (of Get Out and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri fame) will receive every Best Supporting Actor nomination there is. (He gives a haunting performance that has stuck with me long after the film’s final credits rolled.)
In anticipation of the film’s release, I sat down and spoke to Lurie about his career, overcoming the tragedy of Straw Dogs and the far greater tragedy of his son Hunter’s 2018 death (he was 27), and the making of a film that is sure to be seen as his masterwork. (I’m sure this sounds like hyperbole, but The Outpost really is that good. And better.)
DIABOLIQUE: What is the one thing you learned while making your first film, Deterrence?
ROD LURIE: Well, let me ask you something. How far into the weeds do you go with this? How “inside baseball” are your readers?
DIABOLIQUE: They’re pretty savvy.
ROD LURIE: Okay, then there are two answers to this. First, on a technical level, I didn’t really know anything about filmmaking. I’d made one short film. For the first couple of days I was shooting masters. These big masters. I was doing 10, 12 takes with them because one little thing would go wrong in them. I did that until somebody told me, “You know, you just need one master, man. [Laughs.] It doesn’t matter how much they fuck it up because you’re going to be using it so rarely.” So that was something I learned on a technical level. That was the first thing I learned as a filmmaker.
But on a more macro level, one thing I really learned is that there’s no “one size fits all” for directing actors. That every actor is different. That every actor is a human being with their own personalities and their own push buttons. It was something I hadn’t really considered. I had thought, “I’m going to deal with all my actors this way. I’m going to treat everybody the same.” Little did I realize that was exactly the wrong thing to do. I learned that I had to adjust from actor to actor. That was the main thing I learned on that film, I think.
DIABOLIQUE: You’re known for getting great performances from actors. Of all the performers that you’ve worked with, who stands out in your mind as being the easiest to coax a great performance out of? [Full disclosure: I worded my question incorrectly, but since Lurie gave me a wonderful, thoughtful response, it worked out.]
ROD LURIE: Wow, that is an odd twist on a question. “To coax a great performance out of…” I would say that person was Kate Beckinsale in Nothing but the Truth. Allow me to explain why I picked her. When I first met with Kate, the subject of how she’s treated on a set because of her beauty, or the reason she’s selected for roles being her beauty, came up. She said, “You know, it’s a real pain the ass, actually.” It was then that I understood something. As I researched her I found out that she’s a Russian linguist. She’s Oxford educated. She probably got very little of the respect that she deserved on set as far as someone to speak to about her character or to talk film with. ‘Coaxing’ a good performance out of her is probably the wrong word, but it’s always there.
Speaking to her on a sort of literary level about her character and about character motivations—why a character would behave a certain way—was sort of delightful to her. I suspected she hadn’t had those conversations too many times. And with her I discovered that we could intellectualize ourselves into a really great performance. Whereas on the same set Vera Farmiga is someone who just comes fully ready-made; who doesn’t want to talk about it, just wants to leap in. Like a stove that you open up and the flames come bursting out of it. So I would say the answer to that question probably is Kate.
Some actors don’t want to talk at all. Sam Jackson doesn’t want to have any conversations like that. One day I went into the trailer with him and I said, “Let’s talk about today’s work.” And he said, “You know, you don’t really have to do this. I know what I’m gonna do. I’m fine.” He does take direction, but he’s not terribly welcoming of it. And that’s not a negative. That’s just the style he works by.
Does that answer your question?
DIABOLIQUE: That was great. And I think Kate was fantastic in the movie.
ROD LURIE: She was fantastic in that movie. I remember there was a guy from the Washington Post who came on the set. And the first thing he does is start talking about her looks. He says to me, “You know, there are not many reporters who look like Kate Beckinsale.” And I said, “Okay, you know what Kate’s problem is? That there’s not too many anything that looks like her.” No matter what role she plays, they’re going to say that. She was too good looking to play Ava Gardner, so what are you gonna do?
DIABOLIQUE: Let’s talk about The Contender. That was your second film. It received rave reviews, awards, two Oscar nominations. How does finding that kind of acclaim so early in your career affect your mindset as a filmmaker? Does it make you get cocky in what you’re doing, or does it make it daunting moving forward because now you’re expected to live up to that level of filmmaking every time out?
ROD LURIE: Well, I went from making The Contender to making sort of a big studio action movie called The Last Castle, which I tried to infuse with some thought and intellectualism. Steven Spielberg had wanted me to make the film, and he had bought The Contender, and I really wanted to continue working with him.
Yes, The Contender was acclaimed, but it also got some criticism. And it’s the criticism that it received that really affected me more, or guided me more, than any of the film’s critical successes. I thought I’d made a very feminist film, and there were some very extreme feminists who said that I’d made the opposite of a feminist film. Some people thought that what I had intellectually tried to make was something that had actually exceeded my grasp. And it actually kind of stymied me a little bit because I didn’t see that while I was making the film. And I didn’t see it even when I was editing the film. So when these flaws are pointed out by critics that you respect—and that you know, by the way, because I knew all these guys—it comes…
I would say it was sort of the opposite of what you are suggesting. Yes, we went to the Academy Awards, and that was great. Yes, it got me a really big gig, and yes, I was able to approach actors pretty easily after I made that. Yes, I got a big TV deal out of it. But I also realized that we’re not as good as we think we are… Like at fucking all. There were some moments in The Contender that I thought were really great, really smart, but people were like, “No, it’s not really that great.” So when I was doing The Last Castle and I thought we were really nailing scenes, I would second guess myself. “What, if anything, am I missing here?” And I learned that you really just have to go and make your movie and not get too caught up in how you think it’s going to be received. That cannot be the way that you make a film.
DIABOLIQUE: One of the things that I have admired most about you over the years as both a filmmaker and as a person is that you strive to be self-aware and self-analytical. You looked at the criticism and took it to heart.
ROD LURIE: Well, sometimes they’re right. I’ll tell you… I love the musical score of The Contender as works of art and as a piece of music. But I think that sometimes I was trying to retromotion when I thought the story wasn’t doing it enough for me. I didn’t really need that too much. And that was examined, so when I made Nothing but the Truth there’s very little music, and I used the music more ironically. By ironic I mean going more against what we’re seeing on screen to emphasize a point.
Some of these critics are really smart people. They’re not dummies. In fact, I used to be a film critic. A lot of these guys chased me out of the business. [Laughs.] I knew that I could never write up to the level of Anthony Lane or Manhola Dargis or Joe McBride and people like that. They’re smart cookies, these people. They’re in many ways as much artists as the filmmakers.
DIABOLIQUE: You talked about working on The Last Castle. I believe both that and Straw Dogs are well-made in different ways. But both of them were seen as box-office failures. A lot of filmmakers never walk away from one failure, let alone two. How do you explain how you’ve managed to hold on when others couldn’t?
ROD LURIE: Wow, that’s a loaded question! [Laughs.] And a good one. So let me approach both of those. The Last Castle was a box-office failure. I think you’ll find that reviews were divided, but…everyone got a bit of a pass for that one because that came out right after 9/11. The testing on the movie was very high, and the tracking on the film was very strong. We were looking at the movie making $80 to $100 million, which was pretty good at the time for a non-sequel, non-franchise film. But when it came out two or three weeks after the 9/11 attacks, it came out at a time where there was zero marketing. Not one commercial, not one ad. It just suddenly appeared in theaters. Not only that, but our original poster was an upside down American flag on fire. So we had to alter that almost instantaneously. And not only that, while I was editing The Last Castle I had already made my deals for other projects, so I was a little bit protected there. I don’t think anybody really held it against me at all.
Straw Dogs is a completely different story. Straw Dogs, if we’re being honest, absolutely eviscerated me as a director. I have never dared to look at the Rotten Tomatoes score on that one, but I’ll bet you it’s close to 50/50 with the critics. There were some critics who understood what I was trying to do, and there were others for whom I didn’t provide enough clarity as to what I was trying to do.
It wasn’t the movie qualitatively that hurt it at the box office. It was because a rape scene to the protagonist of the film was the central element of the movie. Infamously so. And we learned something very clear and very early from the testing—women do not want to see rape movies, period. They just don’t. Certainly not where the rape scene is at the heart of the movie and is the engine of the film. Even if the woman in the film gets her revenge, it’s like having been murdered; it’s something that will never be undone, and no amount of revenge will resolve it. So people didn’t go see the film at all. And I’m not even sure they’ve really watched it in the ancillary markets either. I was very proud of what we did on the film philosophically, but there’s no doubt…
I’ve never told this to anybody before, but I had an agent at William Morris Endeavor… I had a talk with him three or four days before the film opened, and to this day I’ve never heard from him again.
ROD LURIE: To this day, yeah. Your movie opens, it tanks, and that’s when you really need an agent…
It was very clear that I was headed into some sort of director jail. I continued to get offers to direct movies, but they were not the kinds of movies I wanted to make. These were the movies that were offered to really good directors who are on their ass. They know they’re gonna get the director for a lesser price maybe, and they’re going to get an effective director for a movie that he or she otherwise might not have made. I had money in the bank and I was working on some television stuff that was important to me. So I didn’t feel that I needed to leap into it to make a living. So I didn’t.
Feature-wise, it wasn’t until The Outpost came to me that I said, “Okay, this I can do and I want to do.” Now I’ve sort of reentered the fray. So when you say “you walked off of two failures”… The first one, yeah, I walked off of it. But I think anybody releasing a film at that time survived. But Straw Dogs I didn’t walk off of. It created an oasis for me for eight years. No, not ‘oasis’, but a ‘desert’. [Laughs.] The Outpost is the oasis!
DIABOLIQUE: I want to talk briefly about your television work before we get into The Outpost. I want to talk briefly about your telefilm Killing Reagan. That was based on Bill O’Reilly’s book. As we both know, you’re very outspoken politically. So I found that adaptation to be an interesting choice considering that yours’ and Bill O’Reilly’s viewpoints are diametrically opposed.
ROD LURIE: First of all, I didn’t write the screenplay, so I wouldn’t say I adapted it. But it was after reading the screenplay that I realized that it didn’t have any political bias. Well…that’s not quite right. Initially it had a little bit of political bias. It had a liberal political bias. I realized I could make the film; I’m not thinking about adapting a Bill O’Reilly book, I’m thinking I’m making a film about a piece of modern American history. That’s the way I approached it, and I took that liberal political bias out of the script. I really insisted on it. What it was was that initially I felt it was exaggerating the dementia that Reagan started going through. The assassination attempt was in 1981 when he’d just been on the job for a few months. So I insisted on taking that out because I thought those were just low blows that were unnecessary and probably unhistorical.
I spoke a couple of times with Bill O’Reilly. First on the phone he was joking and he said, “No liberal bullshit, Lurie.” I said, “You know what? I’m just going to tell the story of the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan and I’m going to tell the story of John Hinckley Jr. I’m going to tell it as straight and as well and as accurately as we can. I think we did a really, really good job with it.
One time he came to the set. We were shooting in Atlanta, Georgia, and most of the extras were these white dudes. All those guys coming from the suburbs of Atlanta were major Trumpers. So O’Reilly walks in, and you just really would have thought Jesus had walked in. I had lunch with O’Reilly and there were a few people in the room. Trump had not been elected yet, but O’Reilly did say to all of us, “I know Trump really well. I know him better than anybody outside his family. And I promise you if Donald Trump becomes president I will be running this country.” That was really kind of stunning. But he said it. I’m not speaking out of turn, he said it to a table full of people.
And when those sexual allegations forced him out at Fox, I wrote him a note. I said, “Listen, I can see that I’ve already gotten a couple of calls from people in the press, and they’re going to ask my opinion. And I’m going to express to them how disappointed I am in you.” And he wrote me back and he said something to the effect of, “Rod, I really wish you would look at the facts. Things are not what they seem to be.” That sort of thing; the stuff I would expect to hear. And I’ve not communicated with him since. But I did ask myself the question that you’re asking, which is, “How can I be involved with someone like this?” And I think the truth is, had Killing Reagan been offered to me after the sexual stuff, I would not have done the film. Because whenever the film airs, it sells another quarter of a million books for him. And I don’t mind doing that for someone whose opinion I disagree with politically, but I do mind doing that for somebody who is a criminal. But that was not the case at the time.
DIABOLIQUE: You talked about depoliticizing Killing Reagan. I think that’s one of the best things about your new film, The Outpost. It doesn’t get into any politicizing. It just tells those soldiers’ stories. I haven’t read Jake Tapper’s original book. Was there any of that in the original book, or was it apolitical, as well?
ROD LURIE: The book is apolitical, as well. Jake Tapper’s book is a “just the facts, ma’am” sort of thing. It’s a very emotional book. What you are saying is very important. We knew there couldn’t be an analysis of politics in this. The only thing that we could analyze is the military decison-making. But whether or not we should be in Afghanistan or not, that was not our focus whatsoever.
We asked about that in the test screenings—how many people thought the film came from a political slant. Those people in the test screenings didn’t know me from Adam, and I doubt they knew my political views. The answer came back 100 percent that it was completely apolitical. And that’s really important.
I will tell you that I went to a military academy. I went to West Point, and I can tell you that the political demographics of that school are exactly like the political demographics of the United States. Because every congressional district sends five cadets, so you’ve got five cadets from Orange County and five cadets from the Bronx. That’s the way that it works. So there are as many Democrats as there are Republicans. That’s what exists in the country and also that’s what exists at West Point and that’s how I think the military is. Those guys probably fight about politics like everybody else does. So it was easy to make the film apolitical because there’s not a side you can take realistically that would support one view or the other.
DIABOLIQUE: When watching the film, one gets the impression that you felt a great responsibility to the soldiers you depicted in the film to get everything just right.
ROD LURIE: That’s really true. We wanted to get it as right as we possibly could. And when I say ‘as we possibly could’, what I mean is that there’s not a lot of film on these guys. There’s not a treasure chest of information. It’s not like when I was doing Reagan where I could go read a book where you got a treasure trove of material to work from. There’s very little with these guys. So I spent some time talking with the families of all these people, and I realized we had a responsibility to them as well. And they told us as much as they could. We got little expressions the characters used into the movie. One of them used to say “It’s all good”, so we had him say that. And one of them said, “He always wore a USC hat”, so we have him in a USC hat. We did things like that. So it really was important. These men are everything to me. I’m really scratching the surface with this answer, but the bottom line is yes, that was really fucking important.
The thing that I feared the most was a parent telling us, “You got him completely wrong”, and how upset they would be with us. In fact, we showed the movie to the families of the soldiers at the Brookings Institute in Washington, DC in October. We flew them all in. The big thing that Jake Tapper and I feared was them being upset about how their loved one was portrayed. But it didn’t happen. Not even once. They all loved it.
DIABOLIQUE: That’s great.
ROD LURIE: A fucking relief is what it was!
DIABOLIQUE: Let’s talk about the casting. The casting of The Outpost is fantastic from top to bottom. Every performance is terrific. There isn’t a weak link there.
ROD LURIE: There isn’t.
DIABOLIQUE: I think Caleb Landry Jones really stands out, which is really saying something because the entire cast is superb. I think he’s amazing in this film.
ROD LURIE: I agree. I think it’s an Oscar-worthy performance and I hope people remember him at the end of the year. Especially if you know the real Caleb. [Laughs.] When I first met Caleb, he had hair down to his ass! He was, let’s say, celebrating the legalization of marijuana. [Laughs again.] He was as skinny as Olive Oyl. But I sat there and listened to this guy, and there’s nothing when you meet him that says he can play this buff guy that’s gonna be receiving the Medal of Honor. But when you talk to him about his other roles and you see the commitment that he had to those roles, you realize that he’s gonna get this right or he’s gonna die trying. I considered other actors who were more physically right for the part, and maybe even more mentally the part or came more ready-made, but nobody was a better actor.
I sent him down to meet with the real Ty Carter in Austin, Texas, and Ty calls me and he goes, “Rod, he’s gonna go to the gym, right?” [Laughs.] And then I learned something else, which is that his brother was a Marine who lost both of his legs in Iraq. Then I learned that his brother read the screenplay and that his brother came to him and said, “You’re gonna play this part. You’re gonna play this fuckin’ part.” And then I knew that Caleb would not let us down. And he would not let his director down. And he did come and he looked amazing. We shaved his head when he got there, but he was much more fit than he’d ever been. And he was sharp as hell. He was the most active participant in basic training. He did great. I just hope people remember him at the year’s end. Not even year’s end, February’s end.
DIABOLIQUE: This is going to be a strange year for the Oscars considering most of the films in contention are going to be films we’ve seen via streaming rather than in theaters.
ROD LURIE: I think it levels the playing a field a little bit, though.
DIABOLIQUE: I think it was a wise decision not to fill the film with great big recognizable stars who distract from the story. But I have to tell you, Scott Eastwood still had that inadvertent effect for me several times, because I’d be watching a scene and I’d be struck with, “Holy shit, he looks and talks just like his dad!”
ROD LURIE: [Laughs.] I know. He’s so distracting. And it is a really good thing that the soldiers in Afghanistan never refer to each other by their first name ever. They’re always referred to by their last names. The character’s name was Clint Romesha. Could you imagine if they were calling him Clint the whole movie? Then it gets even worse.
Yeah, he really does have these affectations of his dad. And sometimes I had to steer that away a little bit. Because Scott, unlike many children of big, famous stars, likes to talk about his dad, and likes to talk about how much he admires his dad, and he likes to talk about the lessons he gets on acting and directing with his dad. So we can talk about that a little bit and about the iconography his dad brings not just to his roles, but to his son’s roles. This would have been a role Clint Eastwood could easily have played when he was 30 years old.
By the way, we have all sorts of second or third generation actors in this film.
DIABOLIQUE: I saw that you also had Mel Gibson’s son, Milo Gibson.
ROD LURIE: Yes, Milo’s in it. Did you catch anyone else?
DIABOLIQUE: No, but I wasn’t looking for them.
ROD LURIE: Okay, it’s funny, but there’s also Richard Attenborough’s grandson, Will Attenborough. He plays Faulkner, the dude who gets caught smoking dope. Scusa, the one who has the dog? He’s played by Alan Alda’s grandson.
DIABOLIQUE: Wow. And you’ve worked with Alan Alda.
ROD LURIE: Yeah, I’ve worked with Alan twice. He’s one of my dearest friends in life. Then there’s an actor I cast halfway through shooting the film. I wanted to cast for this character Chris Jones, so I cast this guy out of Britain, and by the time he got to the set somebody explained to me that he was Mick Jagger’s son. He sings a song that I didn’t put in the film, but it’ll be on the DVD extras.
DIABOLIQUE: Based on things you’ve written on Facebook, I had a clear sense that you saw the film as something you were also making for your son, Hunter, who passed away in 2018. Did that add to the pressure that you faced in regards to making this film as perfect as you could?
ROD LURIE: It could have added to the pressure if things were not going well. But the truth is that when I came back and told the studio, “Look, I’m dedicating this movie to my son. I want you to understand that I’m going to become really ornery about how I’m going to make the film.” I basically told them to brace themselves. “And I’m going to shoot the battle scenes and much of the movie in one-ers. Okay? And I’m gonna cast real veterans in the film. Yes, I wanna use real bullets and real-life ammo when we do our training.” You know, stuff that makes these companies very nervous. But they played ball and they understood what I was going for artistically. They also knew the emotion that was driving me. And I put Hunter’s photo up on that monitor, and I want to tell you something: I will always love the people I made this movie with, because they also did this for Hunter. There wasn’t a day where they didn’t talk to me about him. There wasn’t a moment when his spirit was not there.
I’m almost crying now, so I have to apologize… I love my son so much. Do you have kids?
DIABOLIQUE: I do.
ROD LURIE: How old are they?
DIABOLIQUE: I have four daughters and two step sons; my oldest is 22, my twins are 21, and the others are 19, 10, and 9.
ROD LURIE: Wow! So you know how much you love your children and if one of them just disappeared from the face of the earth it would be the worst thing ever. In a way this movie kept him alive. I don’t know what I would do if this movie wasn’t there to make for him…and I knew I was going to dedicate it to him. And everyone else knew it too. If someone came into the director’s tent to bitch, they would take one look at his photo and just walk out. They just went and did their jobs. On the last night of shooting, when we were done, I took a shovel to the outpost and I buried his photo there.
Then when I came back to Bulgaria to do post-production, I spread his ashes at the outpost. It’s extremely meaningful to me. If things had been going badly, then it would have been devastating to me. It was bad enough to me that we couldn’t get a real release and couldn’t open at South by Southwest. The other place where I spread Hunter’s ashes was at Griffith Park here in LA where he used to go running. I had to go up and apologize to him that we couldn’t get this on the big screens across the country like it was intended to be.
I think he would have really liked the film.
DIABOLIQUE: Your passion really seemed to spill out on the screen. I cried for a good 10 minutes when the film was over.
ROD LURIE: Thank you. And you know, people having that similar experience… I think part of it is that tragedy doesn’t come from death. It’s from realizing the loss of a future because of that death. And we made sure that with all these guys [depicted] that we understood their ambitions and their loves and what just went poof! when they died. We also didn’t glamorize the deaths, so it seems like even more of a loss in a way. Like I said, it was very important to us how the families reacted. When Hunter died, the families got behind me. Because he was the same age as these men. So I really understood and it really gave me clarity of how to make the film more than ever before.
So, I was in prep and I flew to Michigan to be with him when he died. He literally passed away in front of my eyes. He just went away. Boom, he’s gone. And I took him off his support system and 20 minutes later his chest stopped moving. He was gone… And my daughter told me I had to go finish the film. And on the flight to Lufthansa, flying back from Bulgaria, I wrote the song that is at the end of the film.
DIABOLIQUE: I don’t know how much you realize this, but an awful lot of people who follow you on Facebook and watched what you and your wife were going through—and most of us don’t know you in real life—were hurting for you from afar and were rooting for you. We really wanted you succeed with this film.
ROD LURIE: Can you imagine if it was a shit movie? [Laughs.] It would really suck if I made a real turkey. But that was not going to happen. I can tell you that right now. Nobody was going to let it happen on that set, and people really tried hard. This was a low-budget film, but everyone treated it like it was a studio film. Like their individual lives depended on it. The crew, everybody. Everybody. I put the pressure on them, you know? I said, “We’re not gonna let the families of these men down, and we’re not gonna let my son down. It’s as simple as that.” I even offered to let people resign from the film when I came back, including the actors. I told them, “This is not going to be easy. We are not on vacation. And by the way, we are not going to be getting any extra pay for going through the hell we’re gonna go through to make this film.” But everybody was there. Everybody.
It’s beautiful, actually.