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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Charlie Bewley Thunder Road Interview

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Matt Dallas (Kyle XY), Charlie Bewley (The Twilight Saga) and actor/writer/director Steven Grayhm have been traveling across America interviewing Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans in preparation for their upcoming feature film, Thunder Road. The two-month research road trip, which is being documented in Into the Heart of America: A Soldier's Story, has given the actors unique opportunities to listen to and understand what American servicemen and women go through once their tours of duty are over.

In between interviewing veterans, Dallas, Bewley, and Grayhm graciously took the time to talk to me about the importance of making sure Thunder Road is as authentic as possible and that it accurately reflects - and respects - the experiences of war veterans.

Why did you decide to hit the road and do this research, because a script could have been done without actually embarking on a lengthy road trip?
Charlie Bewley: "We felt that it was time for - and I think this is representative of our production company as a whole - it was time to bring some reality to the screen. To do that - and, as you know, Steven has written the script - we still felt like we needed to go and talk to people and gather accounts to enrich the script and make it real, essentially."
(. . . . . )

It sounds like you are all very respectful of these veterans you're talking to. I know it's emotionally very difficult for them, but what's it been like for you to be hearing these stories?

Steven Grayhm: "I've been having, just recently, nightmares where I woke up yesterday morning and I had the absolute sound belief that I was being deployed to Iraq. I had this dream that the three of us were doing basic training as research for the film, and we signed contracts allowing us to be able to do that. But in the contract we were actually to be deployed. So I woke up with this fear of, 'Oh my god, I'm going to die over there.'"

"Also, there's got to be a learning curve here. There's got to be an adjustment curve, if you will, here because I've witnessed traumatic things in my life, but there's nothing that's ever been this personal, you know?"

Charlie Bewley: "It's a very all-consuming project. I mean, we have careers outside of this. I was just in the UK for two months and that feels like a long, long time ago now. Now we're actually at the Veterans Wheelchair Games here in Pittsburgh and we've been here for four or five days, and it's all about this right now. It's all about the people that we are meeting. We've gained the trust over the course of the last two or three days of some really key veterans and people whose accounts will come in absolutely crucial to the final product. Like I said, it's an all-consuming and enriching endeavor."

What have you done to gain the trust of these individuals? I would imagine other people - not involved in a film - have asked them before about what they experienced, and they may not have necessarily always opened up. What have you done to convince them this is a good project to be involved with?

Charlie Bewley: "And I feel like we have a lot of people coming up to us - and we're about to interview a chaplain who was stationed in Iraq for two deployments. He's come up to us numerous times and said, 'Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for doing this, for being so thorough, for being both detail-oriented and respectful of the veterans.' And you've got to know that we're at these games and people don't know who we are because we're not here as the people we are, we're not here even doing a documentary. We're here just to experience the veteran community. There has been interest in us and that way people have now started, you know...we've gained their trust and they're much more comfortable around us. They're coming to us willingly with their accounts and willingly wanting to help us on this journey to make this film as true to life as possible, which has been such a wonderful process."
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Read the interview in FULL at movies.about.com

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