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Nov 8th
09:53 pm
Scott Hicks and Nicholas Sparks talk TLO  
From filmink:
In preparation for the film, Australian director Scott Hicks - whose notable credits include Shine and No Reservations - immersed himself in the stories of returned US servicemen.

"When I started working on the film, I took Zac down to Camp Pendleton - which is a huge military base in California - and we hung out with a group of Marines who are his age, who really had the experience of the character in the story," he says.

"And what was really interesting was how they all connected with the idea of this photograph - they all had some sort of talisman that they carried with them.

"One guy had - what had been a playing card once upon a time - but it had been through the laundromat, and it was just shreds of a card that he'd carried on three tours in his helmet. He lost it one time, and panicked, and thought everything was going to come to an end."

The experience at Camp Pendleton was especially valuable for Efron - whose previous roles haven't required a great deal of emotional depth.

"It really helped Zac," Hicks says. "But it was quite difficult, because you are not of [the soldiers'] world. And they're not sure what your attitude is. So, consequently, they're not quick to communicate with you.

"But I just treated it like I was making a documentary or something, and just asked questions, and kept the conversation going. And gradually, they began to open up. And some of the imagery that they inadvertently provided me with, by telling me their personal experiences, really helped.

"To hear, direct from them, what it's like to be in a Humvee when it hits an IED, and what impact that has on you physically and mentally - it was a very good session that we spent."

And while Efron might seem like an odd choice for a Marine - "he was concerned that his stature wasn't going to be right," Hicks reveals - Nicholas Sparks claims that the actor's appearance and age only serve to further ground the film in reality.

"When most people think of war movies and the Marines, they conjure up Saving Private Ryan - these are people in their thirties," the author says. "It's not like that anymore - we don't have the draft. 95 percent of people who join the military do so right after high school.

"These guys are 18 years old; 19, 20, 21. So when you see ‘em - they're kids. It blows you away.

"I think Zac is 24? He's old!" Sparks laughs. "Actually, he's probably the most realistic portrayal of a soldier that we've seen."

I'm actually glad he brought up the age thing because I think we're really desensitized by the media portrayals of military to how young many servicemen and women actually are and how much they have seen by Zac's age. For example, an Army Ranger named Jared Hagemann killed himself to avoid going back for his ninth deployment. He was only 25. In some ways, I think the most disappointing thing in TLO for me, no matter the quality, will be the fact that, just like in real life, so little attention and care is paid to a returning military member's mental health after some seriously traumatic shit. Jared felt extreme guilt and all he wanted was to be normal again. But Logan, thanks to movie magic, can put his PTSD in a box and forget about it. It's a damn shame, cause they could've said something useful. /soapbox
Mood: sicksick
13 13 comments Comment
lilly4848lilly4848 on November 9th, 2011 05:27 am (UTC)
You are right on in your comments (soapbox) about our servicemen and servicewomen who are returning home. I live in a Navy town, and just across the bay/river is an Air Force base and an Army base, so I'm kind of surrounded by the Military. It really is a shame the way they treat them. Conditions at the VA hospitals are horrible. And it didn't start with Iraq or Afganistan. It's been going on since Viet Nam; probably longer.

I am confident that Zac will do this role justice. I'm glad that he got to go to Camp Pendleton. Knowing how Zac works, he must have gained a lot of knowledge from the visit.
hunny miss (aka lets fead him to the gators)ehs_wildcats on November 9th, 2011 05:51 am (UTC)
i think this has gone on forever. but specifically i can remember this movie i watched once, the best years of our lives, about three men coming home from WW2 and how difficult it could be. even white christmas, granted in a much more uplifting way, deals with post-war challenges.

it is such a tragedy though that despite how much more accepting of mental health issues we've become, that these people are still so ignored, or worse belittled, when seeking help.
It's Audrey not Aubreyaudrey_za on November 9th, 2011 05:39 am (UTC)
how young many servicemen and women actually are and how much they have seen by Zac's age.

Logan is 25 in the film and there's actually a scene where he and Beth's mom (Blythe) discuss how many times he's gone back to Iraq, and when he tell her his number she gets this sad look and asks "How old are you?" and he says "25, ma'am". The film does address some of the real/ugly truths of these young individuals who are enlisted including post-traumatic stress (Logan is napping and there's a tense moment between he and his nephews who attempt surprising him in his slumber and it goes awry) and survivors guilt.

I thought TLO, for what type of film it is (romance), did a decent job at getting in some raw moments of realism.
It's Audrey not Aubreyaudrey_za on November 9th, 2011 05:46 am (UTC)
In that same grain, I think where they "drop the ball", so to speak, is never exploring/showing if Logan gets help for his PTSD, as that's not the focus of the film and admittedly falls to the wayside of the love story. But again, for what it's worth, I thought it was nice that TLO didn't simply bypass those truths and did touch upon them with effective moments/mannerisms (like Logan frequently having trouble expressing his emotions).
abigail80831: pic#113712706abigail80831 on November 9th, 2011 05:40 am (UTC)
I agree. I very much like that Sparks spoke about the age. Despite what many thought when this casting was announced, Zac IS in fact a very good fit for the role when it comes to age. Like Sparks said, most of the active duty men and woman in the Military ARE 18, 19 and in their 20's so he fits the bill.

I think once the trailer comes out some people's minds might be set at ease once they see his "look." I think people who aren't hard core fans still see/think Zac looks like he did during his HSM days. Even I have to admit Zac for the longest time DID look young for his age, but I feel like maybe the last 2 years or so his look have matured. Now I feel he very much looks like a guy in his 20's instead of an 18 year old teenager.
The Writers Denmusewriter on November 9th, 2011 06:08 am (UTC)
Excuse me while I applaud you for your soapbox. Putting my Social Work hat on for a second, I have to say I'm not surprised that TLO and other films gloss over PTSD...because it's taken the military and the American people a long time to even recognize the full effects of PTSD, I think it will take awhile for Hollywood to catch up. I've even read various things around the internet where people question the legitimacy of PTSD as a diagnosis...they see it as sort of a "cop out". It's disgusting.

Even though TLO doesn't address it directly, I'm hoping it might be mentioned in some promo if they talk about what it was like for Zac to take on the soldier role.
Bee: Zac – CStC - lying in bedjeezbee on November 9th, 2011 01:14 pm (UTC)
This is a good angle for early promo to talk about.

Personally, my issue with Zac's age was never about the military aspect though; it's about being an age-appropriate love interest for a divorced woman with a 10-year-old kid (now 8-year-old but still).
kleth on November 9th, 2011 03:04 pm (UTC)
I think the essential age objection among Sparks fans was the fact that Sparks set Logan's age at 28 or so in the book, which also fits the love interest better. But I also agree, a lot of outrage was sparked by Zac's lingering image as a youngster. These people just don't have any faith in movie magic.
Miranda gives everyone a chancemirandagirll on November 9th, 2011 02:43 pm (UTC)
I do agree with you on how I'm glad they mentioned the age thing. I think once people see a trailer, and realize Zac isn't the kid from HSM then they won't be as skeptical as some have been (regardless some Sparks fans will see the movie regardless).
Miranda gives everyone a chancemirandagirll on November 10th, 2011 07:38 pm (UTC)
hunny miss (aka lets fead him to the gators)ehs_wildcats on November 11th, 2011 12:47 am (UTC)
i had seen that last night though i didn't get a chance to post it. though i wouldn't say for sure it is 'finished' finished. odds are they will put more work into it, at least until it is shooting, then hopefully it is set, lol.
kleth on November 11th, 2011 04:46 pm (UTC)
"odds are they will put more work into it, at least until it is shooting, then hopefully it is set, lol."

My impression is that script writing continues right up to the last day of shooting. I'm just amazed that people will go into a $25 million shoot with a script that isn't entirely final. "We'll fix it as we go along" and "We'll think of a good ending before we get there" seem to be common operating philosophies. Then there's "We'll fix it in editing."
hunny miss (aka lets fead him to the gators)ehs_wildcats on November 12th, 2011 01:27 am (UTC)
i think it depends on the script, the writer(s) and producer/studio interference. also the magnitude of changes... changing a bit of dialogue or improving isn't a big deal obviously. whereas changing the whole structure or major plot points rarely happens because it is costly and usually has terrible results.