CULVER CITY, California-Members of the cast of “Fury” sat down with the media about the epic war movie that has already exploded with enthusiasm on the big screen across the country. There was a lot to talk about what went on behind the scenes with director David Ayer in tow, Logan Lerman (Norman Ellison), Michael Pena (Trini “Gordo” Garcia) and Jon Bernthal engaged in a conversation about the blood, guts and tears of the film.
The film’s other stars, Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf, were not available for this particular press conference. But Lerman, Pena and Bernthal, as well as Ayer, were fantastic in discussing the nuances of the hot-ticket movie.
Most of the discussion surrounded the premise of how the camaraderie between the cast members was built, the revelation on why this film was created in the first place and how important it is recall an era in which crew tank members were often the stand-in the-trenches heroes that many of us forget about.
Ayer’s gripping War World II film is unflinching in telling the tale of a five-member crew (Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Lerman, Pena and Loenthal) going through their own interpretation of brotherhood as they engage the enemy in the latter stages of the ripped apart regime of Nazi Germany.
The film, of course, is bloody and full of heart wrenching catastrophic tragedy.
But such is the inevitability of war. The tight bond of the “Fury” tank crew gives humanity and a face too often lost in history men and women who fought and died without being properly attributed. What Ayer does in his hard knock film is put a face on the inglorious ghastliness of war. Being in the trenches requires a physical toll on the body.
One of the ways Ayer sets up and gets his cast prepared for the physicality of the film they were about to endure was getting them to do odd tasks such as sparring with one another. In war, hand-to-hand combat is part of the on-the-job training requisite that comes with the territory.
As such, the “Fury” cast got close and personal with one another during their fighting sessions. At the end of the day, it managed to give the crew a sense of camaraderie on the set that they might not otherwise would have been able to bring to the movie.
The actors opened up about how their physical sessions helped them to forge a kinship off camera that without doubt carried over in the film. Logan Lerman, who plays the young, wide-eyed Norman Ellison, a kid thrown-without warning-smack into the middle of the war trenches, was blunt on his assessment.
“We had a long, long training period on this film,” Lerman said. “David (Ayer) is kind of known for putting his actors through a pretty tough training process, and we had months where we did so many different things to feel comfortable with this world that we were living in, and also to get to know each other. We had a good solid month where we spent every day fighting each other in the morning, learning about the tanks, and our position in the tanks. But most importantly…We did become very close and very tight.”
Michael Pena (End of Watch, Cesar Chavez, American Hustle) , who plays the alcoholic-driven character Trini “Gordo” Garcia (a role that pays homage to Latinos for their contributions as soldiers), sheds some more light on just how physical it got on the set.
“I remember Logan came in, and like we started sparring,” said Pena. “And I think from my point of view, there is something that changes him. A couple of time we beat him up…I’m not going to lie. We had gloves on and headgear and all that good stuff, but there’s the one point…I don’t when it really it happened; You don’t really to beat each up other up, but you try to get some good shots and you can tell when you get hurt or you hurt the other person. And he’s like, ‘I don’t care if I get hurt.’
“He’s going to hit me once really good and that’s a change, because we did it in the “Wash” together. There’s something that happens when you spar; it does really activate this kind of animalistic instinct that you have. You get to really bond in a weird way. I did it with Jake Gyllenhall (End of Watch), and I did it with these guys. There’s something that brings out all honesty when you’re getting punched in the face.”
That’s a theme that Jon Bernthal (Grady Travis) followed up on.
“To echo what these guys said, I think we were all enormously grateful for the pre-production on this movie. It’s not about putting us through Hell or anything like that. This movie mattered so much to our boss, and it mattered so much to us. The level of commitment and the level of investment…three or four months before we even started…was there.
“We were all kind of asked to come out of our comfort zones, all asked to sort of take steps together that we might have been afraid to take on our own. But we all pushed each other and kind of got there. We were constantly being tested, constantly being pushed. I really feel we became a unit before we walked on set.”