‘Act of Valor’ Movie: A Hollywood Mission for Real Navy SEALs

By ABC News

Feb 17, 2012 1:56pm
pd act of valor jef 120217 wblog Act of Valor Movie: A Hollywood Mission for Real Navy SEALs

Credit: Bandito Brothers/The Kobal Collection

ABC News’ Martha Raddatz and Mary Marsh report:

An upcoming movie starring a team of Navy SEALs performing covert operations and staging surprising assaults may seem like just another Hollywood action thriller, but there’s a twist — the men seen in uniform are real active-duty Navy SEALs.

“Act of Valor,” due out on Feb. 24, began as a recruiting video for the SEALs and while the plot  is fictional, it’s as close to the truth as you can come. Scenes of high-impact surprise assaults are based on real life missions.

“Very strange to go from real world missions where the consequences are as high as there can be in anything in the world to one where you get to walk away from it,” said Lt. Commander Rorke, who stars in the film.

Only first names of the seals are being revealed in the movie.

Rorke has been a SEAL for 13 years, and his experiences with his fellow SEALs offers a firsthand look into how these stealthy commandos operate. In one scene, the SEALs are preparing to grab a hostage and move silently underwater, unseen, until they are ready to make a move.

“Anytime we’d go to film something there’d be a preexisting training opportunity that we’re doing with regular Navy aircraft service vessels, subservice vessels and so on,” Rorke said.

Filmmakers Scott Waugh and Mike “Mouse” McCoy spent two years working around SEAL deployments in order to get the real guys in their movie.

“These men are so complex, such a complexity of character, that it would be really hard for an actor to authentically portray them and it would be better to see if we could just get the real guys to do it,” Waugh said.

“You’re going to see some things in this film and you’re going to say, ‘no way that guy goes through that,’ but it actually happened, so we didn’t create any fantasy elements there,” McCoy said.

Being portrayed in an unrealistic fashion was a deal breaker for the SEALs. They said if they were going to star in a Hollywood movie, they wanted control over scenes they thought had gone too Hollywood

“The fact of the matter is, there’s certainly plenty of swearing in the teams but in a mission, it’s a lot more calm and collected, and disciplined,” Lt Commander Rorke said. “So in ‘Act of Valor,’ you’re going to see during a gun fight, very calm and tempered communication and that’s the way it really happens.”

For an extra shot of danger and adrenaline, the SEALs wanted — and got permission — to use live ammunition in their weapons, a first in nearly 75 years. Rorke said he and his fellow SEALs didn’t need a lot of extra coaching in acting out their roles.

“There were a lot of time we didn’t need to rehearse anything because we’ve done it a thousand times,” he said. “We called in aircraft for fire, we called in boats to help us on fire support and, and talk to one another on missions where bullets are flying. So it wasn’t it wasn’t new for us in that part and that made it a lot of fun.”

Critics of the film worry that “Act of Valor” will reveal too many tactics of an organization where one of the best weapons is surprise. Eric Greitens, a former SEAL, wrote a book about his experience in the Navy and said it was “critical”  that most things about the way SEALs operate remain a secret.

“That’s essential to the safety of the SEALs themselves, and it’s essential to our ability to conduct operations in the future,” he said.

So while the film does offer a glimpse into the lives of these dedicated warriors, viewers will just have to imagine how the next real life raid will go down.

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