"Act of Valor" Directors Focused on Authenticity, not Hollywood Fantasy

John Hanlon
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Posted: Feb 27, 2012 8:56 AM
"Act of Valor" Directors Focused on Authenticity, not Hollywood Fantasy

“We thought that Hollywood’s misrepresented their community for so long that it would be great to get their story authentically told,” director Scott Waugh said about his new film, “Act of Valor.” Directed by Waugh and his colleague Mike McCoy, the film attempts to take an authentic look at Navy SEALs and stars eight active-duty SEALs. I recently had a chance to interview “Valor’s” directors in Washington D.C., where they talked about the truth behind the story, their goals in their film, and the threats that still face our nation today.

“Act of Valor” tells the fictional story of a threat to the United States posed from a group of would-be terrorists who plan to sneak over a dozen suicide vests into our country. After a kidnapped undercover agent is rescued, the SEALs discover the plan to infiltrate our nation and must prevent the terrorists from crossing the border.

Although the story is fictional, many of the things that happen in it are based on true stories. As Waugh said, the film features “five real acts of valor” that actually occurred. As Waugh said, “when you watch it and you see those certain things that seem implausible, we’re just saying, those have happened.”

To add to the film’s authenticity, the film features real gunfire in some of the action sequences and the actual wives and families of the SEALs appear in it as well.

At first, all eight SEALs said no to the film but the filmmakers persuaded them by gaining their trust. They also told the SEALs that they wanted to create an accurate portrayal of what they are like on and off the battlefield. Waugh said that he went into the film with the Hollywood representation of these officers, which he said is “always some screwed-up Rambo Terminator” but he noted that the real men “are just so humble…they were so different than what they are presented as” in other films. 

McCoy added that the filmmakers also wanted to show the bond that these military men share. As he said, the SEALs “really understood that we were gonna make a movie about the brotherhood.” After seeing it in real life, he said, “wow, we’ve never seen that before amongst men.”

And the directors were quick to note that the movie is not political. “There’s no policy in this movie. It’s simple. It’s about a threat to the homeland,” Waugh said. He added that because 9/11 occurred eleven years ago, many people question whether or not the United States is still being threatened. “That threat’s still there,” he said. “Thank God we have a fantastic military that threat has been prevented from happening again.”

Although many films don’t present look at who the Navy SEALs are, “Act of Valor” stands out for its valiant attempt at showing what these military men and women do every day. It’s a must-see.