Iraq war veteran Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver won’t be having his day in court, as a federal judge today dismissed the former bomb tech’s lawsuit against director Kathryn Bigelow, screenwriter Mark Boal and the producers behind 2010 Best Picture winner “The Hurt Locker”. Sarver sued the filmmakers in early March of last year only days before they took home the big award, claiming Boal had based the Jeremy Renner character on him and that he’d been presented in a false light, resulting in damage to his reputation and putting his life in jeopardy.
Boal was embedded with Sarver’s unit in Iraq as a journalist in 2004 and later wrote about his experiences for Playboy magazine. He penned the script for “The Hurt Locker” based on his time in the war-torn country, coming up with a set of fictional characters for the story. Boal and the producers have repeatedly denied the claim that Renner’s character was specifically based on Sarver.
“Here, the value of ‘The Hurt Locker’ unquestionably derived from the creativity and skill of the writers, directors, and producers who conceived, wrote, directed, edited, and produced it,” wrote U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Nguyen in her written decision rejecting Sarver’s arguments.
“‘The Hurt Locker’ was inspired by many soldiers I met and interviewed during my time reporting in Iraq and elsewhere,” said Boal in a statement following the decision. “It was a disservice to all of those other soldiers for Sgt. Sarver to claim that he was the only soldier that was the basis for the hero of the film. I am glad that the Court has decided to dismiss the lawsuit.”
Sarver’s attorney Todd Weglarz said he intended to appeal the ruling, stating: “We are not going to stop representing the rights of Sgt. Sarver and other military members and the privacy of their families.”
Attorney Jeremiah Reynolds, who represented Boal and Bigelow, said that Nguyen’s ruling represented a huge win for filmmakers.
“No artist should ever be forced to create entire fictional worlds that have no basis in reality simply because they fear the threat of meritless lawsuits,” he said in a prepared statement.
“The Hurt Locker” won six Oscars at the 2010 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Bigelow), and Best Original Screenplay (Boal). Renner was also nominated for his performance.