Writer-director Pete Berg considered putting his "Lone Survivor" cast — led by
But the filmmaker ultimately decided that the real person who needed to embed was himself, so Berg deployed in early 2010 with a SEAL platoon in Iraq near Syria's border.
Berg's experience proved influential in shaping his adaptation of Marcus Luttrell's memoir, "Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10." While Luttrell persuasively recounts the schooling of the
"It really helped me get ready to write the screenplay," said Berg. "These are really funny guys who love to joke. They are in love with their jobs and with each other and very clear-eyed about their jobs and their mission. I've never met guys more focused on doing their jobs as best as they could."
In the case of "Lone Survivor," opening in limited release Dec. 27, Luttrell's mission was to join three other SEALs in a mountainous area near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Dropped by helicopter to take out a military leader in a remote village, the quartet is promptly discovered by several unarmed goat herders, including a child.
Knowing that the safest but most immoral thing to do would be to kill the civilians, Luttrell and his team (played by
As the title implies, Luttrell is the only one to make it out, but Berg, who postponed making "Lone Survivor" to direct the catastrophic
Berg said that showing "Lone Survivor" to the families of those who died in the operation — a helicopter full of GIs sent to rescue Luttrell and his team also was shot down, killing all 16 aboard — was "the most emotional thing I've ever done."
Said the director: "This has been an experience unlike anything else."