Battleship D

Interview with Taylor Kitsch

Q: How have you enjoyed working with Rihanna?

A: It was good. She’s very game. She is very open in the process and Pete’s been great with her. It’s been enjoyable.

Q: You have a longstanding relationship with Pete Berg. How long ago did you speak about doing something like this?
A: When I was doing John Carter in London he approached me, so it has been a lengthy process. He was very open in the process of writing to where I wanted to bring Hopper, and I am very grateful to him for that.

Q: How have you enjoyed the transition from TV to film?
A: Obviously, you have so much more time to prep in these films. TV would be loads of scenes in a day especially on Friday Night Lights, which is all I know in the TV world. The direction is never different. I am not going to act any different. I prefer film personally but that is subjective. I have just been raised that way. I just love film. I have been in these movies and I love taking my time in the process and really mapping things out. I love that.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge with this movie?
A: I think finding that balance, the tone. Hopper goes through an amazing arc. The guy goes to hell and back and just finding that balance between when the humour is necessary and when it is time to play him crushed, when finally someone is taken from him. To find that balance has been a big thing and I have learnt from John Carter too that any film of this size is just a marathon. It is about energy conservation. It is huge.

Q: Did the success of Friday Night Lights have a major effect on your everyday life?
A: Not really. It is a cult show and people are very impressed with the work that we have done. But I think I have been lucky that it is not that big a show because you don’t want to get pigeonholed. You are respected as an actor and that is what every actor wants before you venture into these big films, so we have the best of both worlds. We have the respect within the industry and we also get known but not to the point where they say, ‘Oh, that’s Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights’ and that’s all they see.

Q: Did you prepare much physically for the Battleship role?
A: Absolutely. First of all you are representing the Navy and second I am not going to be this fat-ass walking around the ship. It is very physical and in my personality I like to stay fit so it wasn’t too much of a stride. I just wanted to be in shape but not too big. I think a lot of the challenge was the verbiage of the Navy. That is a very hard thing for me or for any actor to really wrap their head around because you have to learn it so thoroughly that it has to become unconscious and that takes an incredible amount of time and energy.

Q: Did you do a specific Battleship boot camp?
A: Pete and I went down and spent some time on the ships, obviously being in Pearl Harbor for a bit was big. That was the majority of it, going down and being on the ships and seeing how these guys react to different ranks. We did this scene with real Navy personnel where we were getting medals when everything was over, from the Admirals down to the first year Ensign and I tell you, man, they look at your shoulder or your rank. It is an incredible thing. It is really intriguing.

Q: Which were the craziest stunts?
A: In the beginning Hopper is trying to engage with something unknown in the water and I get blown back about 30-feet into the ocean and that was pretty good. That was a lot of fun. I’ve done so much wirework with this and John Carter. Really it is insane.

Q: What have been the most exciting aspects of making Battleship?
A: Being engaged with the Navy has been something really big. They have been so welcoming. I don’t know if it is going to be in or out of the film but one of my best days on this film was being on second unit doing the flooding simulator. They have these two-storey things with four or five different rooms which had cameras on and they were pulling men out. That doesn’t get more real. It really doesn’t.

Q: Do you like to do your own stunts?
A: As many as I can. Literally, though, they won’t let me. Even if I want to, they won’t let me.

Q: How much did you know about the Navy before you joined the movie?
A: Not a lot. Personally, in prep, you just drown yourself in it. And I think just trying to pick their brains is important. That is the biggest thing. People in the Navy speak with a very strong sense of affirmation and knowledge. They are smart people. They know what they are about. That was a big thing for me personally to portray. Obviously, Hopper is a mess when you first meet him though!

Battleship E

Interview with Jacqueline Carrizosa (Technical Advisor)

Q: You were training Rihanna. How did it start? Was she training physically? Did you teach her technicality?

A: There was a little bit of physical stuff, because the captain and I would joke around and try to make her do push-ups and when she was on the set. There were things she did better than her stunt double! So she was actually moving around and doing it. During the soccer part, that could be physical, so we tried to teach her some stuff there. But most of it was on-the-go training. Initially when I first went over the script, I tried to explain stuff. Then from there it was pretty much just technically teaching her how to salute and stand at ease and all that.

Q: What would you say she took to most naturally?
A: She has an aggressive personality in the movie, which she obviously took to very well. There's a scene where (Taylor) Kitsch falls down and she has to run out and grab him and she did it really well. It was in water up to her knees and she was running through that and grabbing him. She did better on that than the stunt double.

Q: This was your first time working on a movie set? How was it?
A: I liked it a lot. I actually thought it was really cool to be part of it. I really liked watching the stunt stuff, when that was going on and seeing how they angle it so you can't tell it's not the same person, which I thought was pretty awesome.

Q: Did you get to see any footage they were shooting on fake ships?
A: Oh yeah, the special effects stuff is amazing, those guys did a really good job. We actually were on real ships filming a lot of it, so it was amazing to be out to see on a little make-believe alien ship that they built this huge floating prop for. It looked real, which was great.

Q: Is Rihanna a naval enthusiast now?
A: I definitely think her interest in the stuff went up. But I don't think she'll be enlisting just yet!

Q: Is there a particular scene you're proudest of?
A: There's a part where she's being a smartass and Jesse keeps talking and she's, like, 'shut up!' and the way her attitude came off. The scene where she makes a joke and has to re-word it because an officer caught it. She's pretty fearless in the film and I liked how she came out.

Q: Did you tell her anything about what you got up to during your own naval career that helped to inspire her character?
A: I gave her the weapons safety rules and the deadly force meaning and the 11 centuries of the sailor. I also told her that being a girl working with all guys, you have to be tough all the time! It's not because you have to be the toughest, you just can't be a pushover. If they find a weak spot, you have to act ten times harder, as though it doesn't exist. It's not a matter of proving yourself, it's more you're making your spot there known. Telling them you can do just what they can. I'll run around with the 50 calibre guns that are 91lbs and that's your job and you pull your weight. It's like anything else, like in football, you hold your position. If you don't, it cracks and crumbles. You want to be the stronger person and you want to win. Being in the military is definitely an experience all of its own. I was deployed every year, and you're seven months out to sea. We went over 80 days plus when Japan had the tsunami and didn't hit any ports whatsoever, and helping Japan with supplies. You see the dark side of people, because they're deprived of liberty. You're off of work but you're still on work, because you never leave it.

Battleship 3

Interview with Peter Berg (Director)

Q: From where does your interest in the US Navy and warships stem?

A: My father was a Marine in the United States Marine Corps and served in the Korean War. He had a great love of war and history, particularly Naval war history, and when I was a kid he would lecture [to] me and read me stories. At High School I wrote papers on the Pacific campaign that predicated the Battle Of Midway, which is the turning point of the American-Japanese side of WWII. So maybe the Navy is always something that I have been interested in. I flirted with doing a movie about John Paul Jones and also the whaling ship, Essex, which is what Herman Melville based Moby Dick on, which is a true story of a whaling ship out of Martha’s Vineyard.

Q: When specifically did Battleship come to you?
A: Battleship came to me in a quiet moment when I was in the early stages of Hancock. I was thinking about future projects. You have to be forward looking and I thought about Transformers and how successful that had been and I thought, ‘I want to get into that business.’ Battleship seemed the opportunity to take my love of naval warfare and naval history and go meet the modern Navy. I have a very good relationship with the Navy based upon a movie called Lone Survivor (2013) that I am going to do next. I went to the Navy and they took me to Pearl Harbor and they wanted me to see their new destroyers. The destroyers are what you see more of in the film than battleships. They are brand new and very expensive, costing a couple of billion dollars each and their capabilities are ferocious. The weapons systems on them are so sophisticated and the first time I went there I took my son, which was a fun thing to do. We were on board this brand new ship at Pearl Harbor and seeing the nuclear missiles and torpedoes on them, and the different types of weapons systems they have just blew my mind.

Q: Have we ever seen this much naval hardware on screen before?
A: Never. Ever. The thing is these ships in the movie had never been filmed. They are called Aegis Class Destroyers. Aegis is the Greek word that means shield and they are called that because they have got this radar system where they can see everything 400 km away; everything in the air, on land, under water, and they sit there in these rooms that look like something out of Star Trek! The more I learned about these ships the more I am like, ‘Wow! Incredible. You have never seen anything like them!’ So we started filming them and I would show parts of the movie to people who knew there were going to be alien ships in the film and my friends would go, ‘Are they the alien ships?’ They had never seen warships like this, especially the Japanese ships because they are much cleaner. They really do look like giant monsters themselves.

Q: You went out filming with the world’s navies during RIMPAC [Rim of the Pacific Exercise, the world's largest international maritime exercise]. How was that?
A: We had cameras out there for a month filming all the actual ships. I only went there for a week, but we had crews embedded on the ships for a full month. They came off a little crazy, but they knew what they were getting into! We filmed crews on these ships, boats, and then we had helicopters doing a lot of aerial work.

Q: Do you know how many ships took part?
A: There were 30 from all over the world; South Korean, Australian, English, American, a Singapore ship, ships from Japan. It was an awesome sight.

Q: How much of that filming made it into the movie?
A: That gave us a lot, but that was before we started shooting the film. We did what I call a ‘land grab’. We took whatever we could. Then during editing of the film we knew that we might need a shot of a real destroyer making a hard left turn and then stopping because that fits into what we need — so we went out with just one destroyer and had it do exactly what we wanted it to do. Then we built computer CGI destroyers that we could destroy and do whatever we liked with. It is a combination of what we had filmed at RIMPAC and that. The Navy was a partner of ours in the film so we could take these Navy ships out and if we wanted them to fire certain weapons for us, they would fire them. Just getting them to manoeuvre the way we wanted them to was very helpful.

Q: Why did you cast Rihanna in the movie?
A: There are a lot of women in the Navy and some very attractive women in the Navy, some of whom are in the film as extras, really feminine and beautiful women who are also confident and strong and able to exist in a masculine world without giving up there femininity. I met dozens and dozens of women like that and I wanted to put a female sailor in the movie. I had this idea that she could handle machine guns, fire nuclear missiles, fire torpedoes and radar controlled Gatling guns; someone who was more than willing to get their hands dirty. I wanted to write a tough, visceral female character. We couldn’t go with Michelle Rodriguez who is ideal for those parts but that kind of energy was right and I think that Rihanna had always struck me as being urban and scrappy and tough, but also very beautiful. I had had a very good experience with Tim McGraw, the country singer, who was in a movie I did called Friday Night Lights and he was also in The Kingdom (2007) and he was great. Musicians like Tim or Rihanna, they are performers and entertainers and actors. These people are inherently good at performing, or can be. I love the idea of taking people like that. I was a fan of Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson and David Bowie when he did acting, even Mick Jagger with his crazy film performances, which I love.

Q: What was your thinking behind the creation of the aliens in the movie?
A: My idea was I liked the idea of creating a very credible situation, in the vein of a District Nine (2009) or in a Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), a believable science-fiction component where we had made contact and something comes and visits this planet for a specific reason, in this case a planet that has a similar relationship to their sun as we have with ours. These are called Goldilocks planets. NASA has a satellite that had already found two Goldilocks planets. One is just eight million light years away which is not a lot. It is a solar system with a sun that has a similar frequency to ours, and this is fact. They have identified this specific planet that is in a similar position in relation to their sun as we are to ours. These planets could have life and we do send signals up and have been for 15 years now. Stephen Hawkins came out in this documentary a while ago and said it is a mistake to be sending these signals up. If someone finds them and if they do come, the theory that they will be friendly is probably not accurate. They will probably be looking for resources and they are going to want them. They are going to want what we want. Just in the way we covet oil and diamonds. We harvest resources. I liked the idea of something from a planet, a small group, a recon group looking for a small planet that has resources.

Q: How about their design?
A: The actual design of the alien ships came from water bugs — those mosquito-like creatures that are in the water. They kind of have legs that come out and they look pretty mean. They jump on the water. That was the initial inspiration that I sat down with the designers from Industrial Light & Magic, which is George Lucas’s company that did Iron Man (2008, 2010) and Transformers (1986, 2007, 02009, 2011). They are fantastic designers. The key philosophy of Battleship, as far as the aliens go, was that there were not thousands of alien ships invading Earth. There were only a few and one of them is in trouble. One of them breaks so the aliens are in trouble and they need to get a signal out and getting that signal out is the threat in the film. If we allow them to get the signal out we know that there will be an invasion and if there is an invasion we may win, we may lose but it will be a bad fight, a very, very bad fight. We don’t want that fight.

Q: Do you believe in aliens?
A: I had an experience with night vision goggles. Go out to a dark place in the country, a desert preferably, and look up at the sky with night vision goggles and look at how many stars you will see; millions and millions. That will amaze you. The first time I did this I was like, ‘Is this real?’ You look at all these dots and it looks like that, those black dots in the ceiling. You can’t believe how many. The amount of shooting stars - they are shooting constantly. Go to a high-powered telescope in an conservatory. Go and do it. The amount of stars out there, and each one of those stars is a solar system. Each solar system is full of planets. There is no way, no way there’s not other life out there. So, yes I do.

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