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Action superstar Mark Wahlberg (“2 Guns”) leads the cast of the critically acclaimed war thriller “Lone Survivor” as Marcus Luttrell, a real-life Navy SEAL whose book has become a motivational resource for its lessons on how the power of the human spirit is tested when we are pushed beyond our mental and physical limits.
Based on The New York Times bestselling true story of heroism, courage and resilience, “Lone Survivor” tells the incredible tale of four Navy SEALs on a covert mission to neutralize a high-level al-Qaeda operative who are ambushed by the enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan. Faced with an impossible moral decision, the small band is isolated from help and surrounded by a much larger force of Taliban ready for war. As they confront unthinkable odds together, the four men find reserves of strength and bravery as they stay in the fight to the finish.
Early during the development of the action-thriller, director Peter Berg mentioned to Mark Wahlberg that “Lone Survivor” was a film he wanted to tackle, but at the time, they each had other projects in various stages of production.
Once Berg had the script at a place where he felt comfortable, he sent it to Wahlberg, who had purposely chosen not to read Luttrell’s book in advance. “The problem when adapting a piece of material like that,” says the actor, “is that you always feel like something is missing. I wanted to come at it from this perspective.”
As both a producer and an actor, Wahlberg’s reaction to the script was enthusiastic, and he agreed to portray Luttrell, the team’s medic and one of its snipers. “I was moved by the screenplay, so I felt like we were on the right track. I loved the balance of the drama, action, humor and emotion,” he says. “In the first act, you’re meeting these guys, seeing how much they love each other and what they’re doing out there. Then when Red Wings is a go, you see the shift from playful to all business.”
Wahlberg admits that the selflessness of both the SEALs and the Afghan villagers shook him deeply: “What makes this story so special is the bond and the camaraderie between the guys, but also the state of where we are in the world today. The act of heroism by Gulab and his fellow villagers moved me the most. I found it so inspiring, and it gave me so much hope for the world.”
Although Wahlberg has played characters based on real people before, in such films as “The Fighter” and “Invincible,” he admits that it’s never easy to do this kind of story justice: “I always feel some weight when portraying somebody in real life, whether they’re alive or not. I want to make sure that I make them and their family members proud.”
Knowing that Luttrell would be available to offer guidance proved to be a welcome bonus. Says Wahlberg: “I loved speaking with Marcus about his relationship with those guys, because it always made him feel good to talk about how much he loved them, how much they loved him and how tight they were.”
When Wahlberg considers his time spent with the cast and crew, he reflects that working on “Lone Survivor” ranks at the top of his professional achievements as an actor and producer. He says: “This is the best working experience I’ve ever had, under the toughest conditions. I remember early on as an actor, you worked a long, hard day, but you did something you felt was special, and that car ride home you couldn’t stop thinking about it. I had that feeling every day on this movie.”
When discussing what it was like to watch someone else play him, Luttrell admits that it was initially odd. He says: “Wahlberg is a consummate professional, and he’s a great actor. It was a little strange watching somebody trying to play me, but we talked about it and I knew it would turn out great. I was more worried about the other guys because they’re not around to speak for themselves.”
Opening across the Philippines on Jan. 8, 2014, “Lone Survivor” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.