The word “epic” is overused when describing a great movie but that’s exactly what David Ayer’s Fury is, epic. It’s a throwback to what made World War 2 movies famous. The cast delivers a fantastic and emotional performance. The battle scenes are breathtaking. The sound and cinematography are exceptional. Don’t take my word for it though, go see it. It opens in theaters on October 17th and I can’t wait to watch it again!
I had a chance to cover Fury’s press day event and was given an opportunity to interview actor Jon Bernthal about his role in the film. He really delivers a great performance.
Here is what he said.
Louis Love: What or who inspired the Grady ‘Coon-Ass’ Travis character?
Jon Bernthal: I think the big thing with him is that he’s going though this war as a “loader.” A lot of combat veterans talk about the release of the kill and that when you’ve lost a lot of people that are close to you during the brutality of war. There’s a release you get by firing your weapon down range and actually taking someone’s life. There is something you get out of that, something satisfying. This character doesn’t have that. He doesn’t fire weapons. He doesn’t shoot anything. He doesn’t see anything outside the tank. All he does is as quickly and efficiently as he can is keep that canon loaded. Loading shells is a blue collar manual job but he never gets that release. It’s just work, work, work like a heart. I think he’s going around with this unsatisfied hunger and this rage that’s all fear based. I did a lot of work matching him in different situations and circumstances. As far as him being sympathetic or liked I never take that into consideration as far as the characters that I play. I just try to play them as honestly as I can.
Louis Love: There is a lot of talk about you guys fighting off screen (sharing) to psych yourselves up for a scene. I understand that you are a boxer, so out of all you guys, since there’s a lot of testosterone among the actors, who won the matches?
Bernthal: We never fight to win. I think there is nothing to prove against someone who has less fighting experience then I have. We would all spar and then everyday when we were done I would spar the sensei. They brought in a karate teacher and we would really go at it. The rest of the fighting was really about getting to know each other.
Louis Love: Did the sparing help you with some of the scenes? I noticed there was a lot of hard slapping among the cast in the movie.
Bernthal: Yeah, you get really comfortable with somebody after you have fought them. You know, once you’ve hit somebody and you’ve been hit. It doesn’t matter what kind of experience you have, it’s okay, I feel you now, I see you now. We’ve gone through something together. If I was sparing someone with less experience I would really want them to come after me and really get to feel how that’s like and maybe give them a little something back. It’s a way of communication. For actors it’s incredibly beneficial. Because you cut through what takes two or three months of conversation and getting to know people. You punch them in the face and you know them like that.
Louis Love: Is that what keeps you in shape? I mentioned on the website (Nuke the Fridge) that I was going to get an interview you and many of the ladies wanted me to ask you when’s your next role that you are going to be shirtless in.
Bernthal: (laughing) Look man, I box six days a week. As far as my shape and appearance is concerned it all depends on the role. It’s all different. If I have role where I need to put on weight, I put on weight. If I you’ve got to take it off, you take it off. I do box six days a week and it’s a really great work out.
Louis Love: Many of the scenes involved you guys in a small tank. It looked very sweaty and smelly. Did it smell like sweat?
Bernthal: Oh yes… it smelled.
Louis Love: There was a lot of gore in the film. People’s faces are blown off. How did it look in real life compared to the screen? Was it shocking?
Bernthal: It was all pretty much practical. I’m pretty desensitized now after “The Walking Dead.” The real hard stuff to handle in this movie is the emotional stuff. The stuff going back and forth. Those tanks, these machines rate real and unforgiving. And you’re greasing yourself up and banging yourself up pretty hard.
Louis Love: Speaking of “The Walking Dead,” is there any possibility of you coming back for a flashback scene?
Bernthal: I don’t know man. I really don’t know. I’m really grateful for doing that show. I love that show and I love the people involved. I’m also really grateful for you know, dying because of all the opportunities that I’ve had come since then. The fact that is I get work with some great filmmakers. If there was an opportunity to come back on the show and it made sense and it was something that would really resonate with the storyline I would do it. I wouldn’t want to come back just to come back you know. But if there was a flashback that served the story as a whole, that served the story of Rick Grimes then yeah. I’d love to. I’d love to see my friends.
Louis Love: In Fury, you guys (the cast) had great chemistry together almost as if it wasn’t acting. It looked very natural as if you all were family. Did you work with most of cast before? Were you guys all friends prior to this film?
Bernthal: Yeah there was four or five months of post production. You know obviously we got really intimate through that. Mike and I know each other and had worked together
before. About the time the filming started rolling, we were all family.
Louis Love: Were you a fan of war films before this one?
Bernthal: Some, I’m not really a genre fan. I like good movies you know. I was a huge, huge fan of David Ayer. A huge fan involved in this process and I loved this script. I fought like hell to get in this film and I’m glad that I did.
Louis Love: Last question. What’s next for you?
Bernthal: Since Fury I’ve done a few movies. I’ve done Me & Earl & the Dying Girl by this great and new exiting director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. I did a movie directed by Gerardo Naranjo that was great. I did a movie called Sicario with Emily Blunt , Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro that’s an unbelievable movie. It was directed by Denis Villeneuve who is incredible. Then I just finished one called We Are Your Friends that was great. And finally, I’m going to start an HBO mini series called Show me a Hero.
Here is the storyline for “Fury.”
April, 1945, as the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Out-numbered, out-gunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.
Fury will open in theaters on October 17th. The film stars Brad Pitt, Jon Bernthal, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal, Jim Parrack, Brad Henke, Kevin Vance, Xavier Samuel, Jason Isaacs, Anamaria Marinca, Alicia von Rittberg, Scott Eastwood, Laurence Spellman, Daniel Betts, Adam Ganne, Eric Kofi-Abrefa, Osi Okerafor, John Macmillan, Saul Barrett, Marek Oravec, Kyle Soller, Jake Curran, Jack Bannon, Branko Tomovic, Orion Lee, Vivien Bridson, Christian Contreras, Stella Stocker, Jacob Vonhendial, Lukas Rolfe, Leon Rolfe, Harry Hancock, Daniel Dorr, Bernhard Forcher, Edin Gali, Jaime Fitzsimmons, Christopher Wright, Charlie Rotheram, Nick Beattie, Jimmy Carroll, Chip Dale, Dickon Leigh-Wood, Hugh Vere Nicoll and Xander Rawlins. David Ayer wrote the screenplay and directs.
Interview by Luis Lecca (Louis Love)