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'Lone Survivor' Director Peter Berg Talks Beards, 'Battleship' And What's Going On With The 'Friday Night Lights' Movie

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist December 17, 2013 at 3:02PM

Peter Berg is a manly director. After shepherding such testosterone-soaked films as "Very Bad Things," "The Rundown," "Friday Night Lights," and "Battleship," the director has set his sights on bringing his passion project to the big screen, in spectacularly violent fashion. "Lone Survivor" is based on Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell's nonfiction account of how his elite unit was ambushed and fell in the rocky mountains of Afghanistan. As told by Berg, it is a film full of fire and fury and men doing incredibly manly things. We got a chance to speak to the director, who told us about pulling together his cast, what his thoughts on "Battleship" are more than a year later, the movie's patriotic tone, and more.
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Peter Berg Battleship

I was wondering if you could look back on the whole "Battleship" experience.
Obviously, it's a big movie and I have a lot of different feelings. All and all, I am proud of the film. I wish it had performed better at the domestic box office. It didn't. And I've moved on. There's a lot about that film that I'm quite proud of.

One of the best things about that film is that it showcased Taylor Kitsch. What is the connection between you two?
I really like him. He's a very interesting actor. He's a good man and a good friend. And he's somebody I believe in. When you make movies, it's good to have your friends with you. People you trust, people you've been in it through good times and bad times. That's how real friendships are formed. When you go through rough times and come out of it with that connection, that's real friendship. And that's what Taylor and I have.

"Kyle Chandler and say he won't do the 'Friday Night Lights' movie. He was the first one to say that we ended it really well and I agree."

There's been talk here and there about a "Friday Night Lights" movie.
Kyle Chandler won't do it!

Wait, what?
Whenever anybody asks, we always point to Kyle Chandler and say he won't do it. Which is only partly true. But he was the first one to say that we ended it really well and I agree. I think all of them as actors want to be able break free of that stereotype and that persona. I think that these guys like Kyle are working hard to have careers that go on beyond "Friday Night Lights." I understand them not wanting to do a film. I can't really argue with them too intensely with them. Personally, I would do it. But it's not my face up there.

And you're involved with Brett Ratner's "Hercules" movie with The Rock.
Barely. I'm very removed from that. I did direct The Rock in a Super Bowl commercial for milk last year, which was fun, and I'm going to direct him in an HBO show called "Ballers" in January. We're good friends. But with "Hercules," I'm just an executive producer. It was something that I was maybe going to do a long time ago but they kicked me out. With all due respect. But I think Brett is going to do a great job.

Would you want to do a big historical epic?
After doing something like "Lone Survivor," I'm looking for any kind of material that I'm as passionate about as "Lone Survivor." Whatever type of film that affords me that connection is good.

Is there any genre you're looking to explore?
I'm reading a lot of books. If you've got a good book, send it to me.

Lone Survivor

Speaking of books, you were attached to "Dune" for a while. What happened with that?
I was a big fan of the book. I thought it was a great adventure story. I thought David Lynch's version left room for a different interpretation. At the end, we just never got a script that was less than 200 pages. It was really hard to put that book into a 130-page script.

Were there any ideas that you took from "Dune" and put into "Battleship?"
I don't think so. But that's a good question.

There were actors in "Lone Survivor" who were new to your stable of actors. Are there any of them who you are now dying to work with a gain?
Ben Foster. I think he's the shit. He's an extraordinary actor. And hopefully I'll be able to do a bunch of movies with him.

Why do you feel so strongly about him?
He's a really unique actor with incredible sensitivity, a lot of range, he's very dedicated, he's playful, he's fearless. He's everything you could want in an actor.

Did you ever worry about people getting confused because all of the guys had beards?
[laughs] Yeah, I guess. Look, there were times on set when I was confused—I'd be talking to Mark Wahlberg for fifteen minutes and all of a sudden I'd realize I was talking to Taylor Kitsch. Yes, I was concerned about that. But look, I went to Iraq for a month and lived with SEALs and it was hard to tell them apart. That's the reality. Thankfully I only had four guys so I was confident I'd be able to delineate. 

What about those Navy SEALs did you look for in your actors?
A spirit of adventure. That's maybe hard to articulate what that is. But when you see it you know it. But these guys have a real appetite for adventure and that's what I found to be common with most SEALs. It's not an appetite for violence or death, it's an appetite for adventure. 

"Lone Survivor" opens on December 27th.

This article is related to: Peter Berg, Lone Survivor, Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Eric Bana, Battleship, Friday Night Lights


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