Opening in theatres October 17th from director/writer David Ayer along with the stellar cast including Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal and Logan Lerman.

It is April of 1945 and troops are pushing toward the end of the war in the European Theatre. Don, also called Wardaddy (Brad Pitt), is in command of a five man crew aboard the Sherman tank.

Along with Swan ‘Bible’ (Shia LaBeouf), Garcia ‘Gordo’ (Michael Pena) and Travis ‘Coon-Ass’ (Jon Bernthal), they return from missions worn. After the loss of a man, Norman (Logan Lerman) is reassigned to Wardaddy’s group. This is a film about these men and the war they must face and the decisions that must be made keeping the brotherhood together.

FURY is written/directed/produced by David Ayer. If that name seems familiar to you that would be because this talented individual is responsible for writing such films as U-571 (2002), THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS (2001), END OF WATCH (which he also directed in 2012) and now FURY.

It was a pleasure to be able to talk with David about the film, service to the military, his belief portraying these men with intensity, and the stellar cast put together to bring us FURY.

Hi David, thanks for joining me today.

Absolutely, no worries.

I saw the film and it was amazing to watch. I have to say I love U-571 and now FURY, do you lean towards historic military films?

Well, I served in the Navy and I was in a submarine and, both of my grandparents were in World War II, they were career military and retired officers. My uncle flew bombers missions over Germany so that time period has a family legacy there and that generation never talked about it. They never talked about what they experienced and I’ve had to figure it out from television and movies as a kid. As a filmmaker I became curious about what really happened out there and I knew I wanted to direct a film about the war so I began investigating it. I was really drawn toward the closing days of World War II when guys were tired and equipment was beat up and the Germans were throwing the rules books out and doing some nasty things. This is similar to what our troops face down range today.

What drew you to write/direct FURY?

Because I served, I looked at other movies and they were always about famous battles and famous events. I wanted to make a movie about the guys. I wanted to make a movie about just the honor of simply doing your job on an unknown day towards the end of the war. It’s about the family in this tank and I’m sure, as you know, tankers get real close. They are like brothers finishing each others sentences like a family. No one can be as kind or as cruel …

…as your own family!

Yes! These actors did an incredible job of portraying a military small unit operating under incredible duress yet they maintain their closeness and look out for each other as only guys in combat can.

The one thing that caught me was that it was about the emotion these guys went through. The range you got from these actors was father, son, brother, teacher…there was so much to take in. Were you expecting that from them?

It was really about helping the actors showing all those different aspects, especially with Brad playing the father character Don who is a mentor and big brother to Logan’s character Norman. This was like the first worst day at school ever and he’s got to learn how to get along with these seasoned combat troop, integrate and then Wardaddy Brad has to make him into an effective soldier. Back then and in war time it wasn’t an easy process.

The one line that truly stuck out for me was when Brad says “Ideals are peaceful – history is violent,” you seem to have captured what many films haven’t been able to do. Showing both sides where Logan can’t reconcile with what he might have to do and Wardaddy saying ‘this is what it is.’

Exactly. That was actually an ad-lib by Brad.

You’re kidding!

Yes, he surprised me with it and we kept it in the movie because it was so soulful as to what was going on. The other line that I love in the film is when Mike Pena says after Logan has his first experience in combat ‘it’s not pretty but this is what we do.’

And he does it with such a straight this-is-the-truth-of it delivery of that line.

Exactly and at the end of the day I wanted to show that this is a job. It’s like a blue collar job where you punch in, you go to work, you do what you have got to do, you pray that everyone comes out in tact and healthy and then you get ready to do it again the next day. There is honor in that; there is nobility in doing that work.

I will admit I wondered about Brad’s role because at first all I could think of was Lt. Aldo Raine from INGLORIOUS BASTERDS. Was that a concern for you?

I know, we approached this role like lets just take FURY as it’s own thing and really work on creating the character written and that’s what Brad does, what he does a fantastic job at it. He really learned how to be an NCO and how to lead guys and inspire them. He does such a good job at playing that paradox of loving your troops, loving these guys, caring about them and being responsible for their welfare yet at the same time you have to ask them to do things that put them in danger and risk their lives in order to complete the mission.

The cast is so interesting because they are so diverse.

That’s the thing with a lot of these movies is that they look like cookie-cutter characters from other war movies.

These are not.

No, I wanted unique guys and that’s what I remember from my time in the service and who I served with. I remember how unique they are and the last people you’d expect to be in the military yet – here they are. That’s what I wanted to show was that it’s really about these people, these brothers, this family.

The shooting looks rough, how did you all manage that? You shot in mud, dirt, rain, etc.

Every now and then someone would slip and fall and hit the mud. It’s a bad place to drop your cell phone. We tried to create the look of war time conditions as much as possible and that’s one of my complaints with a lot of these films is that they don’t reflect how difficult it really was. The uniforms in those films are too clean and the equipment is too perfect so we wanted it to look like an army that has been in the field, an army that has been fighting a war. We wanted it to look like guys out there getting it done. The equipment is tired, the people are tired and you really feel it on the screen.

Shia LaBeouf – what the heck? {David is laughing} Wow. I was blow away. His character had such a silent struggle. The scene between him and Brad with Bible quotes was surprising. The look on their faces … Do you realize the effect that will have people?

Shia really put the work into getting this done. Yes, there are rumors and I guess they are fun rumors but the truth is that he did the basic hard work to really deliver that character. He imbedded with a National Guard Unit and did field exercises for quite some time. He shadowed an Army Chaplain so he could see how to minister to soldiers and to see how scripture fits into the life of a soldier. He really went the extra mile in understanding how to portray that character. What he brought to the screen is that he is the heart and conscience of that tank crew. He worked hard and it’s a great understated realistic performance of a man who has faith.

Logan Lerman, where did you find this young man?

He came in and auditioned. There were three scenes and he came in and read one and holy cow, I knew he’d be in the movie at that point. He is just amazing. He had a thankless job because he’s the little brother, the new guy and that’s how they treated him. Anyone who has served knows exactly what that means.

He was the tank pleeb.

Yep!

Jon Bernthal, how do you go from THE WALKING DEAD to being the strangest tank guy on the planet!

He’s a little bit of the animalistic side of the group. I think anyone who has served knows ‘that guy’ and that’s what we called him – that guy. At the end of the day he is dependable, he knows his position in the crew and he gets the job done. Jon is just a great guy and it’s so interesting because he’s really playing against type. He is so playing something he isn’t.

I looked at his character as the guy saying what everyone else was thinking.

Exactly.

He felt it and had no problem expressing it while everyone else was like ‘oooohhhkayyy’, you got this one Coon-Ass (character’s name).

Absolutely, that’s what his character is like.

When people leave the film, what do you want them to come away with?

I think the war is so compelling to people because it truly was a struggle between good and evil. It really was black and white and it was freedom or slavery. Were we going to be in world were people meant something or were we going to live in a world with no human rights what so ever. People think that because the outcome was so black and white that somehow the fighting was too but it wasn’t. It was just as moral hazardous and just as confusing and painful as anything our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines face now. Our grandparents had the difficult time of making the calls that folks do today. War is nothing new under the sun.

The emotion with this is that families may now be able to see a piece of it and share with them.

Exactly. That’s what I’m hoping and for me the perfect outcome would be that tankers could go see this movie and show their loved ones and be able to say ‘this is what I do for a living.’

You definitely don’t sugar coat in this film, you made me jump a few times I’m not going to lie.

Copy that!

You didn’t try to cover the brutality of war up.

I can’t show what they experienced and what they are trying to process and survive from unless we get a sense of how rough it was. I am fascinated by how the folks in uniform will respond to the film. There are a lot of subtle inside military humor in the film and I think it comes across.

Do you like doing that?

Oh yes, I really do. If you serve there are a lot of inside jokes.

You did an amazing job and it has been such a pleasure talking to you.

You too Jeri.

On October 17th, when looking for a film to see that gives it from script to screen straight, see Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal and Logan Lerman in FURY.

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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.

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