Interview with Rod Lurie – Director “The Outpost”

Caleb Landry Jones and Rod Lurie on the set of “The Outpost”

Happy July 4, 2020, “The Outpost” is a military thriller film, of a small unit of U.S. soldiers, who fought in the Battle of Kamdesh, during the Afghan War in 2009. Bravo Troop 3-61 CAV became one of the most decorated units of the 19-year conflict. The film stars Scott Eastwood, Orlando Bloom, and Caleb Landry Jones. The director is Rod Lurie, a West Point graduate and filmmaker. The film was slated to open in Austin, Texas at the South by Southwest Film Festival; however, due to COVID 19 pandemic, the festival was canceled. As fate dictates, the July 4, 2020, weekend has become the new opening date, fittingly apropos. Lurie spoke with me about the brotherhood of these men and their patriotism.

Falco Ink. and Screen Media

Can you describe the essence of your military film?

“The Outpost” is a tribute to the American soldier. The point of this film is the brotherhood of these men and the fact that everyone who died in this battle was trying to save somebody else.

One of the stars of your film, Scott Eastwood, who is seen on screen running and darting through combat scenes, actually had a broken ankle. I mean, how in the world did you manage that?

I had to reschedule the entire movie. He’s got a broken ankle, and it has to heal. And that’s a big process, so I began by looking at all of his scenes where his character sits.  And I began with those, next all the scenes where he takes two or three steps. He then had time off while I shot the other battle scenes as I wanted to let him get as healthy as he possibly could. Finally, we shot his action scenes.

What does someone like, Scott Eastwood, bring to a film like yours?

Scott played a charismatic character, and he’s a charismatic guy. He brings that, but there’s something else with Scott; he really has a desire to continue to grow as an actor and an artist. That’s very, very important to him. We began every day in his trailer or mine, or the office, discussing what his character was going through every day and how it should be approached. It’s great when you have an actor that is invested in the character; that brings a lot to a set, it’s especially important if that character is a real live person.

Scott Eastwood, “The Outpost”

Can you talk about the casting of some of the actual soldiers that were at that battle in the film?

Yes, Daniel Rodriguez, a Specialist at the time of the battle, was in the mortar pit during the fighting in 2009 and played himself in the movie. Through his experience, we were able to recreate everything that he did on that day, including his best friend’s death. It was a really, really tough for him to do, but it added a brilliant authenticity. I’d like to say that our film doesn’t have naturalism, it has actualism, and that’s really what we were going for.

Oh, you definitely achieved that. I can’t, wait to watch it again. You mentioned graduating from West Point. Looking back at that time, did you ever wonder about making a film about a battle or about War?

“The Outpost”

I went to West Point with the intent of becoming a filmmaker. I knew that eventually, I would make my war film. And as I grew older, like the age I am now, the more I wanted to make a war film in which my brothers from West Point actually fought because I was never in combat.

You know, and there’s a certain amount of guilt involved in that. And I really want to make a film that if I couldn’t stand on a battlefield with my brothers, I would do something to honor them. And, hopefully, I’ve done that.

How great is it that “The Outpost” is going to open, July 4th weekend. I mean, how do you feel about that?

I feel that that’s wonderful. I mean, it’s really wonderful. I say, spend July 4 with the soldier. That’s what I would really encourage people to do. “The Outpost” is a film where you certainly will learn, but it’s not spinach. By that, I  mean, it’s an extremely watchable movie. Yes, and it’s the spirit of “Black Hawk Down,” with a lot of energy and heart, and a very robust story to tell.

How important is this film to the soldiers and the families that lost their loved ones?

I think it’s everything. And, point of fact, when we showed the movie to the families of the soldiers who died in this battle and, we showed it in Washington D. C., one of the deeply emotional nights of my life. They all mean a great deal to me. And I’ve become very, very close to the families.

I congratulate you on making this film, I know this was a personal project, and it has come to fruition. Also, I want to thank you for starting the Broadcast Critics Association in 1995 with Joey Berlin, our current President, which is now the Critics’ Choice Association, as I’ve been a member for the past seven years. Also, for making “The Outpost,” an important historically based film that portrays American heroism, brotherhood, and patriotism.

Sarah Knight Adamson© June 10, 2020 interview, posted July 4, 2020.