Peter Berg’s latest movie, “Lone Survivor,” is based on the true story, written by survivor Marcus Luttrell, of a Navy SEAL mission in Afghanistan that found the team facing impossible odds. Recently HitFix got the chance to sit down with Emile Hirsch who plays one of the members of the team, Danny Dietz.
Naturally in a movie like this, a lot of time goes into prepping, both in terms of the physical side of things and learning about the real person being portrayed. This certainly holds true for Hirsch’s work. He told us, “I had a long period before cameras ever rolled… to learn about Danny Dietz and to spend time with Navy SEALs and to meet his friends and family.” Hirsch went on to say that he trained in the sort of facility pro-athletes use during the off-season in order to stay physically fit. “To call it ‘an intense gym routine’ would probably be putting it a little bit mildly.”
Interestingly, the training, according to Hirsch, wasn’t simply about being physically fit, but about the mental side of things as well. Hirsch said Berg wanted to “Mimic putting me in a position where I felt like I wanted to quit or where the anger kinda came to the surface and it was about learning to kinda keep that in check and to not quit and to never say you’re tired and to never complain and to never talk back and to keep going. And Pete made it very clear to me early on in that process that if I were to ever break, he wouldn’t give me the role.”
Hirsch also gave us his thoughts on the members of the team and their actions on the day in question, “The way that they fought and the way that they kept going and how long they lasted in that firefight before they were eventually overcome, it’s something that’s a real testament to the men and women in uniform and the sacrifices they’re willing to make for their job.” He closed the idea by arguing that the movie doesn’t offer up a political point of view, or a point of view on the war. Rather, for him, it seems to be about the people who serve in the military, “At the end of the day, no matter what you believe, you’re eventually going to need these guys at your back for something… they come and take care of the bad things in the night.”
No stranger to biopics, Hirsch has another movie based on a true story coming down the line. Back in October, Hirsch was cast in a John Belushi biography which is being written and directed by Steve Conrad. As so much of our conversation with Hirsch focused on training for “Lone Survivor,” we also asked him what he was going to have to do to get into the appropriate shape to play Belushi. His answer was that there would probably be some sort of weight gain regimen but that he would “Encourage people not to worry too much about that,” and to “Just enjoy the film.”
“Lone Survivor,” which also stars Taylor Kitsch, Mark Wahlberg, and Eric Bana is currently playing in New York and Los Angeles. It expands nationwide on January 10th.