Beyond the Screen: The Impact of War Movies on Actors

By Jack Ripley | May 14, 2024

After 'American Sniper,' Bradley Cooper Checks Possible Threats On Entering Rooms

Are you ready for action? This captivating gallery reveals the grit, sweat, and occasional tears that have peppered the paths of actors while making some of the most memorable war movies in cinematic history. From tales of grueling boot camps that pushed actors to their physical limits, to on-set accidents that left more than just emotional scars, this collection showcases the commitment, endurance, and sheer determination that brought these intense roles to life. Each image and accompanying story highlights the reality behind the spectacle – a world far removed from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Discover the intense training that went into 'Platoon,' the unexpected typhoon that disrupted 'Apocalypse Now,' and the camaraderie that helped the cast of 'Saving Private Ryan' recreate the horrors of D-Day. So, grab some popcorn, settle in, and brace yourself for an inside look at the world of war movies that's as riveting as the films themselves.

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(Warner Bros.)

To embody Chris Kyle's character in American Sniper, Cooper had to undergo an incredible transformation, both physically and mentally. He reportedly gained around 40 pounds of muscle for the role, sticking to a rigorous diet and workout regimen that included consuming 6,000 calories a day and intensive weightlifting training. The making of American Sniper was also emotionally demanding for Cooper. One of the most stressful scenes he had to film was the phone call between Chris Kyle and his wife, Taya, while he was engaged in a firefight. Cooper has mentioned in interviews how difficult and emotionally draining it was to shoot this sequence, and how he felt that Kyle has never truly left him since:
 

After that, you're more aware of everything. He didn't really leave me.

Jeremy Renner Learned How to Build Bombs While Training For 'The Hurt Locker'

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(Summit Entertainment)

While training to film The Hurt Locker, actor Jeremy Renner and his castmates trained with real bomb crews at California's Fort Irwin, learning how to build and dismantle bombs. Renner played the character of Staff Seargant Will James, an expert bomb technician, so it makes sense that he would need to know the ropes when it comes to explosives. However, some of the knowledge he got from the bomb crew while in training was just a little too haunting.

After about a week or so, [the bomb crew] said, 'We put one of our dog tags in a boot.' And I asked why — why d'you put a dog tag on your neck, and one in the boot? [they said] 'When someone gets hit with an IED, you always find boots...You don't find a lot of the other parts, but for whatever reason you always find a boot.' That spoke volumes to me.