Could Universal’s Lone Survivor be this year’s Hurt Locker come Oscar time? Word is around Tinseltown that it’s gearing up to come across that way — as Seal Team Six attempted last year. Jaded Hollywood folk usually don’t schlep to the Academy of Television Arts & Science’s in screening room North Hollywood if they don’t have too.  But Universal’s potential awards contender had an early screening last Thursday for Academy members, VIP press and the like. Universal’s Ron Meyer introduced this truly blistering, emotional and oftentimes poignant film which attracted a full house which uncharacteristically stayed for the post film Q & A moderated by fresh-from-destroying-Newsweek editor Tina Brown.

Based on the book by former Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell, the movie is enthralling and, at the same time, very tough to watch. Mark Wahlberg, who doesn’t seem to make a wrong move in his career as an actor or producer, plays Luttrell.  Taylor KitschBen Foster and Emile Hirsch play the other three Seals on Luttrell’s team, who in 2005 were chasing a Taliban leader in the isolated Afghan mountains.  They came across three goat herders and they were forced to decide whether to let them go — risking that they would alert the Taliban — or to kill them.  The young men decided to let them go, a decision which proved tragic for them. In the subsequent battles with the Taliban, three of the men were killed and Luttrell was severely wounded.

Director Peter Berg, Luttrell, Wahlberg and Kitsch took part in the fascinating Q&A.  Brown started the talk simply by saying, “Everyone is blown away when they watch this.”  She then asked Wahlberg what made him take the role?  He answered, “I was so inspired by the act of courage.  I read the script and the book and saw Marcus on the Today show.  It was hard to make the movie with Marcus there, I was determined to make him, and the families of the men that were lost, as proud as I could.”

Berg answered the same question with, “I read the book and I couldn’t put it down.  I arranged a meeting with Marcus and did my best to convince him to hire me.  We went to a bar, had about 500 beers and he told me he would give the book to me, but that I better not fuck it up.”

Tina then asked Luttrell what sealed the deal for him? “Peter’s attention to detail,” Luttrell replied.  ”Attention is such a big part of our lives, so I gave him the book.”

Wahlberg went on to say, “I’ve played quite a few real people.  But I’ve never had the sense of responsibility that I had with this.  Look he’s 6’6 and 250 pounds.  So I had to my best to embody him.  I never felt more pressure playing somebody, but I also never felt more pride.  For me or anyone else to talk about what we went thru is bullshit compared to the sacrifice these men and women make on a daily basis.

“Lone Survivor”  is set to have a limited release on Dec. 27, 2013, and have a wide release on Jan. 10, 2014.

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