Trevante Rhodes has ‘heart and grit’ in 12 STRONG
Jerry Bruckheimer has produced some of the most memorable
blockbusters over the past 30 years, among them: the Bad Boys film franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Con Air, Pearl Harbor, The Rock, Armageddon, Remember the Titans, Enemy of the State, the Beverly Hills Cop franchise and more. His current film, 12 STRONG, hits theaters in full force—unmasking the story of 12 soldiers who take on an entire Afghan community, on horseback, no less.
Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, when thousands of Americans perished, the world was in an uproar of epic proportion. Military action to defend our nation against future catastrophes was imminent.
The unlikely heroics of those who took on the task chronicle this battle of the ages. Their story of bravery and precision unfolds worldwide, starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Michael Peňa (Crash), Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight), Navid Negahban (Charlie Wilson’s War), Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water) and Thad Luckinbill (La La Land) among others.
12 STRONG is amazing!
Based on the book, Horse Soldier, by Doug Stanton, 12 STRONG is directed by Nicolai Fuglsig and opens January 19, from Warner Bros.
During discussions in Los Angeles, the cast shared reflections of their experience making the film. Moreover, the honor and respect they hold for those whose commitment to duty and country is unparalleled.
Jerry Bruckheimer: I think that these men don’t see themselves as heroes; they are just doing their job, that’s what they are trained to do. They do it because they love their country, they love their families and they are professionals. They are highly trained, highly intelligent, and they’re deadly. The fact that they went into this country and bonded with the Afghan people was remarkable. This group of twelve men got in there and got them to work together against a common foe.
It really comes down to our military and how well trained they are. They don’t see it as a sacrifice. And, they are so good at it. We’re very fortunate that we could show their excellence in this movie.
Thanks go to Doug who found this story because it was classified information. He ran into a soldier who started telling him about a classified mission–he couldn’t talk about–that happened right after September 11th (2001).
As the story goes, President Bush went to the military and said we have to root out this evil. He asked, ‘how can we do it?’ These twelve guys put everything at risk to get the job done. It just shows you what a small force can do and how good they are at their job.
Nicolai Fuglsig: It was always important for me to try and portray Afghanistan in the most accurate way; we’ve seen so many movies that try to get the terrain right and I really thought we did it. We took pains to go to very remote areas to cast the landscapes as characters in the movie also.
It was important that we brought all of the elements together and immersed ourselves in that environment. I wanted the composition and the lens-ing to be like an epic war painting with every frame: hostile, barren, cold with no comfort. It was important that the viewer felt instantly hostile and uncomfortable in these environments.
A very important aspect of this film was the depiction of Afghans and what they went through; it shows how they united with the US to achieve the collective goal.
12 STRONG’s producer Molly Smith (The Blind Side, La La Land): This is not just a typical military action film; it’s so much more than that. It’s a story of bravery, camaraderie and brotherhood in a very unique way. We were so honored to tell this story–Jerry (Bruckheimer) always finds the most interesting stories–most of his stories are usually about the human spirit. I love that we were able to portray that aspect.
Chris Hemsworth has thrilled audiences with butt-kicking roles that
have made him a superstar. Of this role, he states, “I’ve had many roles from the comic book world and it was a lot of fun to do but I desperately wanted to do something different…something with real heart that was more grounded. When this script came my way a few years ago, my first instinct was to question if it was a true story. I was like so many people who didn’t know anything about this military mission. I was engrossed, shocked and fascinated by the details.”
“Then we were fortunate to speak with the real life guys during the process of making the movie and there was such honesty and openness—a lack of dramatization or ego as they recounted the events of war they had been through. They displayed a real sense of humility. I mean, they are real heroes that put themselves in these positions, in the path of harm’s way. To portray them was beyond admirable; it was inspiring.”
“Given the enormity of this story, we definitely felt the weight of that responsibility. We are very thankful that we had the real guys there with us. We also had an amazing cast, crew, producer along with the author of the book with resources and knowledge. It was an incredible experience– one that I will remember for a very long time.”
Trevante Rhodes has emerged as a star of TV and film including a stint on Tyler Perry’s “If Loving You Is Wrong” on the Oprah Winfrey cable platform. He reflects on 12 STRONG thusly, “These characters are more than mere soldiers, they are warriors.
“I think the difference between a warrior and a soldier is found in the heart. Warriors have heart and in my opinion, they fight to the finish, which is the truest form of reaction, particularly in combat situations. Typically we tend to think ahead with our minds, we make mistakes but, when you lead with the heart you tend to have a better outcome.”
Hemsworth adds, “What makes this movie so fascinating is seeing the brilliance of these Special Forces soldiers. Yes, the movie is filled with action but the story drives the point home that this is America, working at its best to create social change. They will use combat if and when necessary but also uses the power of the mind, as Trevante said, almost like Jedi Knights. In preparing for the role, I tried to do a mind meld with the culture that they are engaging with while being very respectful. This is a very interesting complex movie in that way.”
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