Avengers: Endgame is a beast of a movie. It’s over three hours long, yet it still feels stuffed with characters and action sequences. The time travel logic that film deploys isn’t simple, Back to the Future-style stuff. It’s elaborate and convoluted, and knowing where (and when) a particular scene is taking place is a difficult proposition for all but the most dedicated Marvel fans. Luckily, there’s a new tool that can help you process everything that happened in Endgame.
Oren Bell is a St. Louis-based electronics engineer who works on personal coding projects in his spare time, posting his creations to GitHub and his own blog. The Endgame Timelines applet is his most popular project yet, its popularity due to the tons of people who saw the film and struggled to comprehend its structure.
When you open the timeline, you’ll see a spectrum with a cluster of ten circles on the right side, past the notch marked Endgame, itself to the right of one marked The Snap. Each circle contains a Funko-inspired icon for one of the Avengers, and when you click on a character to see their journey through time and space throughout the movie. The characters who join them on their journeys are also shown, a little cluster veering off the main timeline into alternate histories.
As you click, you can read a brief description of the scene below the timeline, a useful device for trying to figure out just how everything fits together. The timeline also shows which Infinity stones the characters have at any given point.
Bell’s timeline is fun to play around with, but its real value will come when you watch Endgame from the comfort of your own home, with the ability to pause confusing scenes and click to figure out exactly what’s happening. Chances are, you’ll figure out something you missed the first time, making Endgame the gift that keeps on giving.
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
The “Batwoman” premiere didn’t keep fans waiting long to learn the identity of the villainess Kate Kane is up against is actually her sister, Beth, who was believed to be killed in a horrific accident when the two were young.
Instead of dragging the reveal out for a few weeks, showrunner Caroline Dries told Insider they decided to reveal Alice’s real identity in the pilot for a couple of reasons.
“One is that, for a shock value, for those of us who knew from reading the comics that they were sisters,” Dries said of staying ahead of fans who are familiar with the characters.
“I wanted to just put it out there because if people did watch the show and had known about the comics, I was worried that it would be spoiled anyway and that everyone would just be waiting for the reveal. We would be playing catch up as opposed to keeping the audience guessing,” she added.
As Dries told Insider, if you’re familiar with the comics then you know who Alice is and you’re just waiting for the big reveal.
Beyond staying ahead of the audience and keeping them on their toes, Dries wanted to make it clear from the get-go that Alice has as much of a bond to Batwoman as the famed Batman and Joker relationship.
“The real reason [to reveal Alice’s identity] is because that relationship is what’s, to me, the most unique part of the show,” said Dries.
We’ll see this family relationship continue to play out over the first season.
“[Kate’s] greatest enemy is a woman that she wants to save,” she continued. “It’s somebody that she cannot kill. It’s somebody that she has to keep others from killing. It’s her twin sister. It’s her other half of her basically.”
As the series progresses, Dries is interested in exploring how Kate’s relationship with her sister played into the character’s growth throughout the series.
“I was really intrigued by an emotional journey for Kate that is all about, ‘How do I get my sister back? Even though she seems so lost right now, how do I find her again and at what cost?” said Dries.
Beth and Alice have a lot to work out.
Alice won’t be the only villain who Kate Kane will face on the show’s first season. Dries said popular “Batman” villain Hush will appear on episode three.
“Batwoman” airs Sunday nights at 8 p.m. on “The CW.”
This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.
There’s an extraordinary brotherhood that exists among us but few will ever actually meet these honored members. Like our sacred flag, woven together by humility, valor and extreme courage, this is a community of men who never sought recognition — rather earned it — through their own strength, service and sacrifice. These incredible heroes are the recipients of the Medal of Honor.
In the military community, these men are treated with an indescribable reverence; a gratitude that runs deep because of the understanding of the gravity of the citation. Most of these men shouldn’t be alive and many who have earned the Medal never lived to see it. But in the civilian community, the awards often blend together, confusing hearts with crosses, silver with purple.
Now, a major motion picture is closing that information gap, educating the public on the Medal of Honor while pulling at your heartstrings. The Last Full Measure, in theaters nationwide on January 24, has an all star cast that tells the incredible, true story of William H. Pitsenbarger. Pitsenbarger was a U.S. Air Force Pararescueman credited with saving over 60 men after an ambush on the Army’s 1st Infantry Division during a battle in Vietnam. The story couples his heroic actions with the relentless efforts, spanning three decades, made by the men he saved to ensure he was posthumously honored.
Following the Washington, D.C. premiere screening of The Last Full Measure, We Are The Mighty had the opportunity to sit with Medal of Honor recipient First Lieutenant Brian M. Thacker and Medal of Honor Foundation Vice President of External Affairs Dan Smith, to get their take on the movie.
WATM: Tell me your thoughts on the movie.
Thacker: This fills in so many blanks. I knew the Pitsenbarger story and then all of a sudden it kind of happened. In the story, it becomes very clear. The question you have is what was the Air Force guy doing with a leg unit in the first place? And then you think about it and yeah, it’s exactly how it works: the guys closest respond to the call. They were doing joint operations back then and they didn’t even know it. The movie is no frills, a straight story of not just Pitsenbarger, but the whole unit that kept the dream of the award moving forward. It’s a story that needs to be told. There’s a story like that behind every Medal of Honor ever presented.
If you were over there, you know there are many other stories that deserve to be recognized. For a long time, Pitsenbarger was one of them.
WATM: I understand why this story is so important for the Medal of Honor brotherhood and to the veteran population. Why do you think it’s critical for civilians to see as well?
Thacker: First of all, they need to learn what the Medal means. It’s not a me award. Pitsenbarger is the medic with the award, but it really goes to all of the men in that company that were put in an untenable situation. The stories that came out of what happens as a result are equally as important. It’s not over when the shooting stops. The camaraderie and the close bond of serving together is what gets us through.
WATM: There’s a great line in the movie about how the medal means so much more than a battle; it’s the story behind it that connects us all. What story does your medal tell?
Thacker: The other half of the story behind mine is that of a Recon Sergeant that got an assignment he didn’t want but came out with a DSC. My guess is that his citation, like mine, was written at the highest level. But our unit was a Joe six pack, a bunch of people from all over the country that didn’t realize how untenable our situation was really going to be until the first shot was fired. Then it was, ‘Oh Lord, just let us hang on. We just need to get through this day.’ It all comes down to everyone just trying to help each other get through the day. Certainly you don’t do it by yourself.
WATM to Smith: What does having a MOH recipient in the audience tonight mean to you?
Smith: It’s beyond special. Young airman Pitsenbarger’s story is inspiring and remarkable. What we try to do and what our mission is, is to raise resources to let recipients tell their stories and to bring that and the legacy of the Medal to the communities. The most senior leaders in our military and our government talk about the less than one percent who serve and this growing civilian and military divide.
For these gentlemen to be able to tell their stories, not just to the military but to the community will close this gap. I’m hopeful that everyday people will see this movie, hear these heroic stories and change the ambivalence that often comes without knowing the impact of the award. So many men came home from Vietnam and weren’t able to tell their stories. I’m hopeful this will reach not just veterans of that generation but the younger generations as well.
WATM: What do you think this film teaches the next generation?
Thacker: We did everything we could to bury Vietnam. The young people that were born after the war grew up in the dark, unless you were living with a Vietnam veteran and you were living it right with your dad. It’s very symbolic. We see the same thing with young people who volunteered after 9/11; this mentality that I need to be a part of this. It’s 50 years later but it’s the same ethic that bubbles up.
You can take that notion of service far beyond the military. It’s in the fire departments, police departments and even the teaching community; this sense of service above self. You see bits and pieces of that in this movie and I hope it’s one the kids will watch because it’s living history.
WATM: Was there any particular scene in this movie that really resonated with you?
Thacker: When Pitsenbarger realized he had to go down to help them to teach them how to use the litter. Being in that position does something to your pucker factor. People who have been there, you can ask them: ‘Do you remember what it felt like?’ They’ll tell you they were very afraid. Knowing you are in over your head and wondering who you turn to for help, that happens all the time. There will be a lot of people who understand that feeling of all of a sudden being in charge.
WATM: As a MOH recipient, I imagine you’re invited to events like this all of the time. Is there a particular event you have been a part of that has had a profound impact on your life?
Thacker: Being able to attend an Inauguration and to witness the peaceful transfer of power was an incredible experience. I don’t think people understand how truly special and uniquely American that is.
WATM: Is there anything else you want people to know about either you or the Medal of Honor Foundation?
Thacker: We still have something to say. I remember when the Baby Boom generation wasn’t going to amount to much. Now we’re saying the same thing about Millenials, and I promise you, we’ll be as wrong about them as our parents were about us. That willingness to stand up and take the risk is fairly common.
Smith: These men have incredible stories to tell. My hope is that through films like The Last Full Measure we’ll be able to connect communities with this heroism.
The Last Full Measure will be in theaters January 24. These stories deserve to be told and the valor of The Medal of Honor should live on through all of us. Perpetuating the legacy should be our collective Last Full Measure.
Long before he played the greatest Starfleet officer of all time and directed the immortal ‘The Voyage Home‘ Leonard Nimoy spent 18 months in the Army reserve. According to Military.com, Nimoy achieved the rank of sergeant and spent much of his army service “putting on shows for the Army Special Services branch which he wrote, narrated, and emceed.”
Nimoy acted in the following instructional film along with future “Davy Crockett” star Fess Parker. It addressed what was then called combat fatigue, or the emotional and psychological toll of warfare. The film shows how Marine Corps psychologists were supposed to treat combat fatigue sufferers, giving a glimpse into how the wartime military of the 1950s dealt into the still-vital question of how to address the mental health needs of its troops. Nimoy appears as the first of the two Marines in the clip to undergo treatment.
This clip was made in 1954, shortly after the Korean War ended and 12 years before Star Trek premiered on NBC.
Belarus’s Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich rolled her eyes when the creators of Chernobyl approached her for permission to use material from her book “Voices From Chernobyl” for the hit HBO miniseries.
“I told my agent, ‘Galya, they’re going to make another film…’ I was far from convinced. The only thing that convinced me, maybe, was the fee,” Alexievich explained in a recent interview with RFE/RL’s Belarusian Service.
However, the five-part miniseries about the tragic accident at the Ukrainian nuclear power plant has raked in rave reviews from critics and viewers alike, and Alexievich is no exception.
“It really impressed me. It is a very strong film. There is something there in the aesthetics that touches the modern consciousness. There is a dose of fear. There is reasoning. There is beauty. That is something that has always worried me about evil, when it’s not out in the open, when so much is confusing.”
And she said that her fellow Belarusians, hard hit by the nuclear fallout scattered into the air when Reactor No. 4 exploded on April 26, 1986, have now had their eyes pried open to the real scale of the tragedy, Alexievich said.
“We are now witnessing a new phenomenon that Belarusians, who suffered greatly and thought they knew a lot about the tragedy, have completely changed their perception about Chernobyl and are interpreting this tragedy in a whole new way. The authors accomplished this, even though they are from a completely different world — not from Belarus, not from our region,” she explained.
Alexievich said the film has especially struck a chord with young Belarusians.
“It’s no accident that a lot of young people have watched this film. They say that they watch it together in clubs and discuss it. They are different. For them, questions about the environment, especially in the West, it is through that lens that they understand life.”
Alexievich also praised the selection of Johan Renck as director.
“The director is a Swede by nationality. And in the Swedish consciousness there is a deep awareness of the environment,” she said.
Meanwhile, Alexievich’s book has, in turn, received high praise from Craig Mazin, the writer and producer of Chernobyl, who tweeted on June 13, 2019: “I drew historical fact and scientific information from many sources, but Ms. Alexievich’s “Voices From Chernoby”l was where I always turned to find beauty and sorrow.”
From the vintage Soviet furniture and trash bins to the period clothing, Chernobyl has been praised for staying incredibly accurate to detail, even using real dialogue, much of it recorded in Alexievich’s oral history of the disaster, “Voices From Chernobyl.”
“There is a lot of my text in the reactions of the people. For example, when people stand on the bridge and admire the fire. Those are the first impressions following the accident. The world’s, as well. The director even admitted that all of this was created from the book. I have a contract with them and author’s rights of ownership,” Alexievich explained.
Some have suggested that the character of Ulana Khomyuk, a Belarusian nuclear physicist bent on uncovering the truth behind the disaster, is based on Alexievich, although Chernobyl’s creators have said the figure is inspired by a composite of scientists involved in the disaster. Alexievich isn’t convinced the character is based on her either.
“I don’t think they wrote Khomyuk with me in mind. [Eimuntas] Nekrosis (the late Lithuanian theater director) before his death put on a play based on [my] The Boys In Zinc. I was supposedly the main figure, but she was absolutely not like me.”
Alexievich says having a female protagonist like Khomyuk simply made sense, juxtaposing her against Valery Legasov, who was instrumental in the cleanup after the disaster.
“In the film, there is a need for a leading figure, a woman — maybe because they took from my view of life, this sense of femininity, the world of the woman. For me, this is very important. In all my books there are many women heroes, not only in the work The Unwomanly Face Of War. This relationship with the living. A woman is extremely capable of detecting the connection of things. Therefore, it was probably necessary to have a woman, not only Legasov. If there had been two men, there would be no story. They introduced a woman and with a man and a woman you get two perspectives. It is very interesting.”
Asked about some of the inaccuracies in the series that critics have seized on, Alexievich is dismissive.
“First of all, it is a feature film, and the author is entitled to his interpretation and understanding of things. But they say, ‘This minister was fat, old, and now he’s young.’ Or the opposite. Or the windows weren’t like that. If you want to think like that, then if we look at the famous film Battleship Potemkin by Eisenstein, where the baby carriage flies down the steps, then some sailor named Zhalyaznyak would say that that type of revolution never happened. God forbid if the truth about Chernobyl or the gulag system had been in the hands of such people.”
Alexievich noted even Russian media were full of praise for the series, at least at first.
“In the beginning, Russian media was very positive about the series and then probably there was some yelling in the Kremlin and they suddenly became very patriotic. Then there was news they are launching their own series about Chernobyl, about how ‘our’ agents pursue some American spy at the power plant. My God, when I read all this I thought that 30 years have passed and has really nothing changed in the consciousness?”
Despite those initial doubts, Alexievich is convinced that HBO has created a classic with a strong message that she feels needs to be heard.
“Most importantly, I would like that people watch it and think about the type of world we’ve entered with such dangers. And there are more and more. Artificial intelligence, robots. It’s a whole new world.”
Today, the Transformers IP has a world-wide presence in toys, comic books, video games, TV shows, movies and even amusement park rides. Just hearing the name cues the iconic jingle or robotic transforming noise in the heads of even the most casual fans. It’s incredible to think that this franchise that dominates the globe owes its existence to the Second World War, G.I. Joe action figures and one very special Marine.
Following the end of WWII, American troops occupied the Japanese islands as the nation entered into the process of reconstruction. A key element in reviving the Japanese economy was its once prominent toy industry. However, with few raw materials available after the war, toy makers were forced to resort to unconventional sources.
American GIs occupying Japan were fed heavily with canned rations. It was the metal from these cans that was recycled and used to craft Japanese robot toys. To highlight Japanese craftsmanship, these toys were often motorized with clock mechanisms that allowed them to walk and roll.
The popularity of Japanese robot toys increased through the 1960s and 1970s. With the expansion of television, the robot toys were paired with manga comics and anime cartoons that engaged children and promoted toy sales. Japanese robot-based entertainment like Astroboy, Ultraman, Shogun Warriors and Gigantor became increasingly popular in America.
However, even the robots from the east couldn’t compete with “A Real American Hero” like G.I. Joe. High sales of the action figure in the states were enough to convince Japanese toy maker Takara to license G.I. Joe for the Japanese market.
Having gained respect in the Japanese toy world for their toy dolls, Takara wanted to branch out and make a toy line for boys. However, G.I. Joe’s iconic scar and grimacing expression were a bit too harsh and aggressive for post-war Japan. To market the toy to Japanese boys, Takara decided to make G.I. Joe into a superhero with superpowers. When the designers realized that G.I. Joe’s body wasn’t conducive to a superhero build, they resorted to type and made him into a robot. With a clear plastic body displaying his metal computer-like internals, G.I. Joe became Henshin Cyborg. Henshin meaning “transformation”, this was the first step towards what we know today as Transformers.
Following the 1973 oil crisis, the 11.5″ tall toy and all of its accessories became prohibitively expensive to produce. Like G.I. Joe in the states, Takara introduced the 3.75″ tall Microman. A mini version of Henshin Cyborg, the Microman toy line focused even more on transforming toys with robots that could change into sci-fi spaceships. Microman was so popular that it was marketed in the US under the name Micronauts.
By the 1980s, robot toys that transformed into exotic spaceships were losing popularity. To rejuvenate the robot toy concept, Takara introduced the Diaclone Car Robo and Microman Micro Change lines. Diaclone toys transformed from robots into 1:60 scale vehicles like cars and trucks while Microman toys transformed into 1:1 replicas of household items like cameras, cassette players and toy guns.
At the Tokyo Toy Show, Hasbro executives took notice of Diaclone, Microman Micro Change and the plethora of other Japanese transforming robot toys and wanted to develop their own toy line. A deal was struck with Takara and Hasbro lifted almost every one of their toy lines for the US market, including Diaclone and Microman Micro Change.
To review, Hasbro licensed G.I. Joe to Takara in the 1970s. Takara turned G.I. Joe into Henshin Cyborg. Henshin Cyborg was shrunk down to Microman. Microman evolved into Diaclone and Microman Micro Change, both of which were licensed back to Hasbro. Things had really come full circle.
With all of these transforming robot toys, Hasbro turned to Marvel Comics to develop a backstory for the new toy line. Over a weekend, Marvel writers came up with the names and backstories for the first 26 Transformers as well as the plot for the first comic book issue.
Diaclone and Microman Micro Change robots were renamed and became Transformers as we know them today. Micro Car became Bumblebee, Cassette Man became Shockwave, Gun Robo became Megatron, Battle Convoy became Optimus Prime and the War for Cybertron between the just Autobots and the oppressive Decepticons was born. The first commercial for the Transformers toys introduced the now iconic jingle and the phrases, “Robots in disguise” and, “More than meets the eye.”
The 1984 release of Transformers was a huge success netting Hasbro 5 million in sales. The popularity of the franchise was due in large part to the Transformers cartoon, the star of which was the venerable Optimus Prime.
Peter Cullen, the original voice of Optimus Prime, became so iconic that he was brought back to reprise the role of the Autobot leader in the 2007 Transformers film and its many sequels. Cullen, also known for voicing Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh franchise, crafted the voice of Optimus Prime with inspiration from his older brother.
Marine Captain Henry Laurence Cullen, Jr., known as Larry, was a decorated veteran of the war in Vietnam. While serving with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Capt. Cullen was awarded a Bronze Star with a V device as well as two Purple Hearts for his actions during Operation Hastings in June 1966.
When his younger brother told him he was going to audition for the role of a hero in a cartoon series, Capt. Cullen said, “Peter, if you’re gonna be a hero, be a real hero. Don’t be one of those Hollywood heroes pretending they’re tough guys when they’re not. Just be strong and real. Tell the truth. Be strong enough to be gentle.”
With his older brother’s words echoing in his mind, Peter Cullen delivered the strong yet gentle voice performance that Transformers fans today will always hail as the one, true Optimus.
“He had a lot of influence on me, you know, and especially coming back from Vietnam. I noticed somebody different,” Cullen remembered of his older brother. “Going into that audition, Larry was with me. I mean, he was right there beside me. When I read the script, Larry’s voice just came out. He was my hero.”
From recycled ration cans, to a classic American action figure and an inspirational leader of Marines, the Transformers franchise has had a lot of American military influence to get to where it is today.
Featured image: (DreamWorks Pictures Paramount Pictures)
When “Black Hawk Down” hit theatres in 2001, it was marketed as a cast of ‘no names’. The real “stars” were the elite troops depicted onscreen: the Army Rangers, Delta Force soldiers and 160th SOAR pilots who made up Task Force Ranger in the fall of 1993 in Mogadishu, Somalia. The movie chronicles their 18-hour battle with Somali militias in which 18 Americans died.
But in the 15 years since, Black Hawk Down’s cast has turned into a roster of certified Hollywood A-listers or perennial movie “That Guys.” In fact, BHD’s alumni have made more big movies than any other military ensemble cast.
BoxOfficeMojo.com is a website that tracks career box office earnings of hundreds of actors. All told, the movies featuring Black Hawk Down alumni have been in have earned a staggering $12.6 billion – more than the combined career box office for the cast of Oceans 11.
The cast falls into three military groups:
The $B-Boys – Black Hawk Down actors who crossed the billion-dollar line (in the book, though less so in the movie, Delta Force is nicknamed “D-boys”)
The Regulars – you know their faces, if not their names
Asymmetric Warriors – Two roles – a Delta Force operator and a 24th Special Tactics Squadron pararescueman – were played by actors who now have massive careers, but not as traditional movie stars. We had to measure their careers differently (leave it to JSOC to be hard to pin down).
Orlando Bloom, “PFC Todd Blackburn”
Career Box Office: $2,815,831,431
You hardly recognize him when he’s not: an elf or a pirate.
The wispy, slightly-sour-faced Brit spends just a few minutes on screen and hardly speaks. But after five installments of “Lord of the Rings” and three “Pirates of the Caribbean,” movies starring Bloom have made more money than those starring George Clooney or Brad Pitt (whom Bloom starred with in “Troy”).
Ewan McGregor, “PFC John Grimes”
Career Box Office: $2,080,785,955
You hardly recognize him when he’s not: a Jedi; lusting for life.
He was a brash talking, un-Tabbed underachiever consigned to coffee duty until pushed outside the wire, but McGregor’s John Grimes – “Grimesy” – was the closest thing to an Everyman in the movie. But by the time Black Hawk Down hit screens, McGregor had already played Obi Wan Kenobi in the “Phantom Menace,” with two other mega Star Wars prequels just ahead. Together, they pulled in $1.1 Billion.
William Fichtner, “SFC Jeff Sanderson”
Estimated Box Office*: $1,495,000,000
You hardly recognize him when he’s not: getting killed.
Fichtner, one of the all-time That Guys in movie history, might be America’s answer to Sean Bean, the oft-murdered Englishman. Fichtner dies a lot. He’s met his on-screen fate on George Clooney’s doomed fishing boat (“The Perfect Storm”) and as an outlaw in Johnnie Depp’s wild west (“The Lone Ranger”), and only barely survived Bruce Willis’ doomed space shuttle (“Armageddon”). In Black Hawk Down, Fichtner’s fiction Delta soldier Sanderson is a battlefield Svengali, coaxing a team of scared, out-gunned Rangers through the day’s fight. He grows ever cooler as the fire gets heavier, dispensing tactical hints that also serve as deep life wisdom (“stay off the walls”).
*Fichtner, like several Black Hawk Down actors, doesn’t register on BoxOfficeMojo. So we added up only the giant hits you’ve almost definitely forgotten he was in.
Tom Hardy, “Pvt. Lance Twombly”
Box Office: $1,242,535,310
Oh, it’s the guy from: “driving for his life in a desert hell hole. But with girls.”
For 12 years after the movie’s release, Hardy wasn’t even the most famous actor among his small trio of Rangers separated from the main force. One of the soldiers, Nelson, is temporarily deaf, a condition played for laughs by Ewan Bremner, a.k.a. Spud from “Trainspotting.” But in 2012, he played Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises” and stole the summer of 2015 in “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
Jason Isaacs, “Cpt. Michael Steele”
Box office: $1,952,955,239
Oh, it’s the guy who is usually: a punchable, dickish authority figure. But in a wig.
Some guy you definitely don’t know has made two billion dollars – pretty funny, hooah? As one of many roles in a classic “That Guy” career, Isaacs plays Cpt. Steele, the uptight Ranger commander who spends most of the movie not getting along with Delta’s cool kids. His most famous moment is as the butt of Eric Bana’s classic joke, “this is my safety, sir.” Steele was right on type for Isaacs, who was also a total dick to Harry Potter as Lucius Malfoy and to 18th-century churchgoers in “The Patriot.”
Ioan Gruffudd, “Lt. John Beales”
Oh, I think he was in: A total disaster, probably (“San Andreas,” “Titanic”).
A career character actor, Gruffudd has played small-to-medium roles in almost 20 films that, combined, have brought in a little over $800 million. He also played a bit part in one of the biggest hits of all time, “Titanic.” The role was so small that BoxOfficeMojo doesn’t count it, but we’re giving it to him. Grufford plays 5th Officer Harold Lowe, who in both the movie and real life, was the only officer who went back to rescue survivors in the water. It’s Grufford who rescues Kate Winslet – and what is “Black Hawk Down” at heart if not a rescue mission? We’re counting it in Gruffudd’s total.
Eric Bana, “Sgt. 1st Class Norm ‘Hoot’ Gibson”
Box Office: $1,029,166,799
Oh, isn’t that the guy from: Tough one. You know you know Bana.
He’s definitely “a movie star.” But he’s never held top billing in a major hit. His fictionalized Delta operator Gibson – who bookends the movie with meditative soliloquies on combat and soldiering – might be Bana’s defining role. Still, Bana is a hell of a 2nd Chair, scoring 9-digit box office in “Troy,” “Star Trek,” and “Lone Survivor.” And as a sheer badass, he reached near-“Hoot” levels as an Israeli assassin in “Munich.”
Tom Sizemore, “Col. Danny McKnight”
Box Office*: $780,000,000
Oh, it’s that guy from: same character type, different war.
Sizemore’s career has been a string of grizzled combat leaders, including Sgt. Horvath in Saving Private Ryan, another NCO in Pearl Harbor and shoot-first detective Sgt. Jack Scagnetti (great name!) in Natural Born Killers. In BHD, when gunfire breaks out, he memorably orders a nervous Ranger: “shoot back.”
*Like Fichtner, we looked at Sizemore’s biggest hits and rounded up.
Josh Hartnett, “Sgt. Matt Eversmann”
Box Office: $678,425,308
Wait, was he in…: not much lately, tbh.
With all the future superstars and famous faces, it’s a little jarring to look back and realize that Hartnett was the guy featured on BHD’s original movie poster. Much of the movie tracks his trial by fire as a new Ranger team leader. But after BHD, Hartnett’s career stalled. He played the lead in Pearl Harbor, as bad a military movie as BHD is a good one, and hasn’t been in a big hit – or big poster – since.
Jeremy Piven, “CW3 Cliff ‘Elvis’ Walcott”
Box Office: $575,659,624
Hey, it’s: Ari!
Jeremy Piven has played in about 60 films but he’ll never escape being Ari Gold, the preening talent agent in HBO’s “Entourage.” Unfortunately, Piven plays his role as 160th pilot Walcott in full proto-Gold style, with cocky, hot-shot dialogue that sound more like “Top Gun” than 160th operators. Piven isn’t on BoxOfficeMojo, but he did make six movies with John Cusak, so we modified Cusak’s career box office total for Piven.
Tom Guiry, “Staff Sgt. Ed Yurek”
Box Office: $388,375*
Guiry is a chalk leader in BHD, where he’s unrecognizable from his only other well-known role, the kid-classic “The Sandlot.” I just hope that when he “fired” his weapon on set, his intended target always yelled, “You’re killing me, Smalls!”
(*the record price paid for a Babe Ruth autographed baseball)
Oh, it’s the guy who: hasn’t been funny since Season 2.
In late 1998, about when BHD came out as a book, I was a trainee at the Pararescue Indoctrination course in San Antonio – a ‘cone’ as you’re called before graduating – when Wilkinson visited. Our class knew Wilkinson as one of two Air Force PJs that fast-roped into the heart of the fighting. He gave our class a great pep talk about sticking together and, even more impressively, jumped into our training for a day. That night, our class went out for a team dinner at an Outback. Wilkinson and two of our instructors were there. After eating, we tried to sneak out but the instructors caught us and put us through several sets of feet-up pushups in the parking lot as confused diners looked on. As we knocked them out, I remember seeing Wilkinson with his arms folded, laughing his ass off.
I tell this story here to distract you from noticing that one of the most decorated PJs in history is played by the dad from “Modern Family.”
*guess-timate of Modern Family’s total ad and syndication revenue
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, “SFC Gary Gordon”
Box Office: $560,000,000*
Oh, it’s: Cersei’s Bro With Benefits.
Waldau plays Gary Gordon, one of two Delta soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor for volunteering to be dropped on a crash site to defend an injured crew. Both were killed in the firefight. And now he’s the Kingslayer. That’s about as badass as a “That Guy” gets.
(*we used the total revenue Game of Thrones effect on HBO in subscriptions, DVD sales and rights fees).
The Danish film ‘A War’ is about an officer who had to make a hard decision under fire and the legal charges he faced when he returned home. It’s an unflinching look at military families, the strains of separation during deployment, and the unforgiving nature of commanding troops under fire while wrestling with restrictive rules of engagement.
The film has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and will be released in limited theaters starting February 12.
After months watching the presidential election approach, using as much information as possible in making a voting decision, and constantly hearing the same things from the same people some families dug in their heels on election night. Mine was one.
Nothing was going to be settled early on election night, so why watch the same talk over and over? Therefore, my family suggested to take a break and enjoy some entertainment for a few hours instead. I acquiesced and was, after the fact, glad I did.
“The Gentlemen,” the latest film from Guy Ritchie, was the perfect antidote and a great way to kill a few hours before turning back into non-stop election news. Although the film was released in January, it was time to revisit it and look at it critically, since I was in the mood.
First, I have to make a confession. I have always been a huge fan of Guy Ritchie’s films or “fill-ems” as Colin Farrell says (more to that below). “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch” are some of my favorites. Ritchie has also directed the Sherlock Holmes series, “The Man from Uncle,” and “King Arthur – Legend of the Sword” with Charlie Hunnam, who also appears in “The Gentlemen.”
In his movies, Ritchie pays homage to the great spaghetti western director Sergio Leone and to Quentin Tarrantino, two of his biggest influences. In Ritchie’s best films, which center around British gangsters, those two influences shine through.
He often uses a cast of characters with different stories and angles who intersect into each other’s lives (a theme found in Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in the West” and Tarrantino’s “Pulp Fiction.”). His dialogue is snappy and crisp and the characters speak the patois of the streets. They are usually gangsters with Cockney accents that are sometimes almost impossible to decipher.
In “The Gentlemen,” Ritchie returns to the genre that has served him well. An American named Mickey Pearson, excellently portrayed by Matthew McConaughey, is the biggest marijuana dealer in England. He has connections all through Europe to sell his weed, but nobody knows where he gets it from.
Mickey is number one and everyone is looking to knock him off his perch. Especially when he decides he wants out of the business to spend time with his wife Roz, whom he refers to as a “Cockney Cleopatra” and is ably played by Michelle Dockery.
Yet, the entire story revolves around the slimy, private detective/investigative reporter Fletcher played almost over the top by Hugh Grant. Fletcher has dirt on everybody and thinks he is slick enough and smarter than everyone else that he can blackmail everyone. Meanwhile, he is penning a screenplay and tries to sell it to Miramax Pictures, which not so coincidentally produced this film…a little free advertising.
Fletcher approaches Mickey’s brilliant right-hand man Ray (Charlie Hunnam). At first glance, Ray is the boss’ office nerd, dressing in dress shirts and ties and handling all the office BS. But Ray is not nerdy, he’s just such a badass. He doesn’t have to show how badass he is until the gloves come off. He is somewhat reminiscent of Vinnie Jones’s excellent but slightly different “Bullet-Tooth Tony” in “Snatch.”
The two main gangsters trying to move in on Mickey’s business are “Dry-Eye,” a Chinese-Cockney gangster who is backdooring his own boss, and “Matthew Berger,” a somewhat stereotypical Jewish double-dealing businessman played by Jeremy Strong.
When Mickey shows Berger where he grows his ganja that’s when the shit really hits the fan. One of Mickey’s grow labs gets raided by a group of totally badass black MMA fighters who beat the hell out of the crew there and steal all the pot plants.
Their MMA “Coach” is hilariously played by Colin Farrell who steals every scene he’s in. He is furious at his fighters for what they did because he knows who owns the pot-growing facility. He pleads with Ray not to harm his fighters and vows to make it up to Mickey. He then spends the rest of the film telling everyone that he’s a coach and not a gangster but then acts like a badass gangster.
Farrell wears these outlandish Tartan plaid tracksuits that just add to his persona. He looks like he had a ball playing this character and it shows through with his performance.
The film builds to a wild climax where all of the pieces tie together. Grant and McConaughey alternate as narrators, but as in Ritchie’s other films, the climax ends up with a lot of violence, including at least one requisite bullet to the back of the head.
The cast is large and talented, and Ritchie blends them all together in his own brilliant fashion.
He gave an interview a while back speaking about how he creates his films and characters.
“My creative process has never been something I can put into words. It’s very random, very scattered and can sometimes lead down dark alleyways and dead ends. What I will say is I think any director needs to immerse himself in both real life and in history to fully open up creative processes. And you must be prepared for the reality that any creative process worth its salt needs to be revised, reworked, and, on occasion, thrown out the window entirely.”
If you are in need of some great action and hilariously funny scenes, check out Ritchie’s latest and greatest, “The Gentlemen.” And you still won’t miss out on any election non-stop talk…
Farrier (Hardy) sets his plane on fire to keep it out of German hands. (Credit to Warner Bros. Pictures)
The pilot checks his watch and does another calculation. The fuel gauge on his Spitfire had been shot out by a German Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter, and he was reduced to estimating his remaining fuel level with quick arithmetic. As he approaches the Dunkirk coast, the engine begins to sputter and the prop slows to a lethargic, useless spin. Now gliding, the pilot spots a German Ju 87 Stuka dive-bomber making a dive on the beleaguered British Expeditionary Force troops attempting to evacuate below. He lines up his gunsight and lets out a burst of fire from his .303 Browning machine guns, sending the smoking Stuka into the water.
The men on the ground cheer and wave at their airborne savior as he glides his Spitfire over the beach. Once he is clear of the British beachhead, the pilot lowers his flaps for landing. The landing gear release lever malfunctions and he is forced to manually crank his landing gear down as the beach below him grows closer and closer. He skillfully sets the Spitfire down on the beach with no bumps or bounces—a perfect landing under any circumstances. After setting fire to his plane, the pilot reflects on his long day of fighting before he is captured by German troops.
This account follows the story of an RAF Spitfire pilot named Farrier, played by Tom Hardy, in the 2017 Warner Bros. film Dunkirk. Written, produced and directed by Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk tells the suspenseful story of the British evacuation at Dunkirk in 1940. What most people don’t know is that Farrier’s actions depicted in the film are based on the real-life exploits of New Zealand fighter ace Alan Deere.
Deere was born in Westport, New Zealand in 1917. During his school years, he excelled in sports and took up rugby, cricket, and boxing. After school, he convinced his mother to sign an “Under 21” form, allowing him to join the RAF at the age of 20. Deere moved to England in 1937 to begin his flight training. After graduating flight school, Deere was assigned to No. 54 Squadron and flew the Gloster Gladiator before converting to the Supermarine Spitfire in March 1939.
During Operation Dynamo, the BEF evacuation at Dunkirk that began on May 26, No. 54 flew several sorties every day to provide air cover over Dunkirk and the English Channel. On May 27, Deere destroyed a Junkers Ju 88 bomber that was attacking a hospital ship, much like Farrier did in the film. The intense aerial combat and high operational tempo of Dynamo meant that, by May 28, No. 54 Squadron had been attrited to just eight serviceable aircraft.
Deere led the squadron on a dawn patrol, Deere spotted a German Dornier Do 17 bomber. He split off a section of his patrol to engage the enemy aircraft. During his attack on the Do 17, Deere’s Spitfire was hit by machine gun fire from the bomber’s rear gunner. He was forced to make an emergency landing to the east on a Belgian beach, during which he was knocked unconscious. After he came to, Deere torched his plane and made his way into a nearby town where he received first aid and hitched ride on a British Army truck back to Dunkirk. During the boat ride back to England, Deere received harsh words and criticism about the RAF’s fighter cover from the BEF soldiers (this experience was portrayed in the story of a different RAF pilot in the film).
After the Battle of France, Deere flew during the Battle of Britain and the Invasion of Normandy. During the war, Deere scored 22 aerial victories, 10 probable kills, and damaged 18 enemy aircraft. He became a quadruple ace and the second highest scoring New Zealand fighter pilot in history. For his contributions during the war, Deere was awarded two British Distinguished Flying Crosses, the American Distinguished Flying Cross, the French Croix de Guerre, the British Distinguished Service Order, and appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
Deere’s military career also brought him numerous near death experiences, including having his Spitfire’s wing shot off, and a head-on engagement with a Bf 109 which resulted in an aerial collision and another glide to an emergency landing. Befitting an unkillable man like Deere, his autobiography is titled Nine Lives.
After the war, Deere continued to serve in the RAF and achieved the rank of Air Commodore before retiring in 1967. He returned to his boyhood passion of athletics and became the RAF’s Director of Sport as a civilian. During his later years, Deere suffered from cancer. He died on September 21, 1995. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered over the River Thames from a Spitfire.
Memorabilia from Deere’s military career, including medals, trophies, and even the engine from one of his Spitfires, are on display at museums in both Britain and New Zealand. Perhaps his best tribute, however, is a restored Spitfire Mk IX bearing his markings when he served as a Wing Commander during the war. The Spitfire was restored by Deere’s nephew, Brendon Deere, and is flown at air shows in New Zealand.
As we warm up our tailgating grills for the match-up, let’s take a look at a few difference-makers you should watch for during the game:
6. Ahmad Bradshaw — QB
The Illinois native has racked up a passer rating of 84.8 and has already rushed for an impressive 1472 yards, including 11 rushing touchdowns.
This athletic QB stands at 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 205 pounds, making this senior a force to be reckoned with. The Navy’s D-line will to have to step their game up.
5. Andy Davidson — RB
This talented junior from Pennsylvania has tallied up impressive rushing yards since he put up 130 against Tulane University earlier in the year.
So far in 2017, number 40 has rushed for 517 yards on only 94 carries — 42 of those yards came in a single run against Tulane.
4. James Nachtigal — LB
This Wisconsin native is no stranger to stopping the pigskin dead in its tracks. In 2017, this talented linebacker has a total of 87 tackles and five sacks, accounting for 46 negative yards against some talented offenses.
The Black Knights are looking to this defensive anchor to put some serious hurt on the offensive line during the Dec. 9 game.
This Navy midshipman is competing at a high level during his junior year. This tough QB isn’t afraid to put his shoulder down and take some hits, as he’s tallied over 1,200 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns so far this season on just 278 carries.
Expect Navy to rely on Abey’s running game for some serious gains during the game.
2. Tyler Carmona – WR
This powerful 6-foot-4-inch target has pulled down 381-yards receiving yards and 4 TDs in 2017. Hailing from Florida, Carmona is averaging over 27 yards per catch.
Look for Abey to target Carmona while Navy is trying to mix up their passing and running game.
1. Malcolm Perry — RB
Standing at 5 feet 9 inches tall, this sophomore speedster has racked up over 800-yards on just 92 carries, scoring 8 TDs in the process.
Perry broke out with a 92-yard TD run against SMU back in week 11 and looks to continue his productive year against Army on Dec. 9.
Actor and former Army Ranger Tim Abell brings a unique approach to his profession where he has worked with some of Hollywood’s finest producers and directors. Abell joined the Army on the Delayed Entry Program while still attending high school. After graduating Abell served 4 years active duty from December 1976 through December 1980 with the elite units of the 2/75th Ranger Bn (now the 75th Ranger Reg) and the 3rd US Infantry (The Old Guard) Caissons. He additionally served 3 years in the reserves while attending the University of Maryland College Park.He became skilled as a horseman through his duty with, “The Old Guard” where he portrayed General Robert E. Lee and President and former Major General Andrew Jackson in dramatic reenactments such as “History of the United States Torch Light Tattoo” and a longer version titlted “The Spirit of America.” He has since acted in films such as “We Were Soldiers”, “Substitute 2: Failure is Not an Option”, and on TV shows including Jerry Bruckheimer’s “Soldier of Fortune”, “JAG”, “Criminal Minds”, “CSI:Miami”, “CSI:NY”, and “Sons of Anarchy.” He continues his work in the industry as an actor, producer and providing voice over work as well.
Can you share about your family and your life growing up?
At the age of 8 his parents divorced. Tim, his sister Debbie and brother Jay chose to stay with their father. Tim’s sister soon married and moved away, and Tim and his brother Jay grew up as “Latch Key kids.” Their Dad worked long hours at the Cadillac dealership while Jay and Tim were given the responsibility of making their own meals, vacuuming, and dusting the house, washing their clothes, and all of the years’ work too. They spent most weekends with their grandparents Pappy & Granny Abell where they learned to cook. Pap Abell , a WWI veteran, also taught them how to catch herring with a bamboo rod and a treble hook, how to pitch good motor parts at the junk yard, how to find and pick wild Blackberries quickly and efficiently so Granny could make us Blackberry pie and how to truly laugh and have a good time!
Abell says he wouldn’t change a thing growing up but, believes kids should have both a Mom and Dad in the growing up if possible… he often wonders what his childhood would’ve been like had his parents stayed together.
Abell became self-sufficient at an early age. While growing up he reluctantly helped his Dad and brother work on cars over the weekend which his Dad called “Shade Tree” work to make extra money. His brother Jay loved helping his Dad work on cars, but Abell’s real passions lie elsewhere. His mind was on building large battlefields with his plastic army men or cleaning his old shotgun and hunting with his buddies in the nearby woods.
Abell does come from a family rich in military service where his grandfather served in World War I and his great, great grandfather was a blacksmith for the 49th Virginia Infantry on the Confederate side in the Civil War. He found even more history on his grandfather’s mother’s side where his great, great grandfather named Jerome Laurence fought for the 65th Volunteers from Pennsylvania, which was a part of the 5th Regiment on the Union side in the Civil War. He has relatives that served even in the Spanish-American War and the Revolutionary War, which Abell describes as “cool.” Surprisingly, his brother tried to talk Abell out of going into the military even with such a rich military history in the family.
Abell’s brother Jay, whom he always idolized, became an outstanding carpenter and gifted woodworker. Abell recalls his father being an awesome father and role model, who taught him responsibility, integrity and respect for his elders.
Abell played trombone and trumpet in elementary school but never really put the time and effort required to learn because he was so much more interested in hunting, shooting, and fishing with his pals and with his hunting mentor his “Uncle Bruce” a former Marine during the Korean War.
In junior high school Abell faced a new reality…. he faced adversity stemming from the racial tensions on the time exacerbated by school bussing. Abell’s hatred of bullies came from that troubled time…. seeing 12-year-old kids beaten, robbed and humiliated and enduring some of the same himself just because of the color of one’s skin made Abell grow up in a different way. It made him learn to fight back and not be a victim, especially when his father told him to deal with it himself. So many life lessons learned from that era… “…you just go screw it I am taking this shit anymore. I am not letting myself get beat up without taking a couple of guys down with me. You know, pay the price….it’s wasn’t just about black and white it’s also about bullies in general. People that are unsavory people that can pick on the weak. I learned that across the board. I took that same experience into the Army.”
He remembers a fellow private in the Army at boot camp that would get picked on because he was, “easy prey.” While at boot camp the private would get bullied and beat up all the time. Abell did not like this kind of behavior. He came across the private being beaten up while in the bathroom at the rifle range complex. He confronted the attackers and told them to stop. He sent the private out of the bathroom and broke up the fight. Later that night the assailants from the bathroom confronted Abell outside of the barracks while he was walking with his fellow soldiers back from the Post Exchange. A fight ensued that was eventually broken up by the drill sergeants. It came to light what was happening among the platoon where the drill sergeants put a stop to it. Abell recalls the volatility of the situations he was in and how racial tensions flared going through entry-level indoctrination in the Army. As new soldiers all the men were still learning their new Army identity and to work as a team regardless of skin color or ethnicity.
Abell during his time in the Army. Photo courtesy of Tim Abell.
What made you want to become a Ranger and what was your experience like?
Abell attributes his desire to become a Ranger from his avid reading habit and loving military biographies where he read a book in his junior year of high school named “The Green Berets” by Robin Moore. The movie starring John Wayne titled “The Green Berets” is based on Moore’s book where Abell loves the film as well. He initially wanted to be a Green Beret where told the Army recruiter the same thing. He wanted to the join the Army to do something he could only do in the Army, “…like be a Special Forces guy.” The recruiter could get him a slot as a Ranger, but not as a Green Beret, so he went with going in the Army to be a Ranger. Abell wanted to be tested as a man and see if could he handle that stress. He says, “…I loved being in the Ranger Battalion.” He describes it as a “wonderful experience” in his life with “camaraderie” and enjoyed the “people he met” where he was “pushed to be his best.”
Robin Moore’s book “The Green Berets.” Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com.
He still remains close with his pals from that time period and he felt invincible as a young Ranger. Abell believes life is about testing yourself and finding out about what you are made of. He remains grateful of his success and his place in life the older he gets. Words of wisdom he lives by are, “How you perceive a situation influences how you respond to it.” He remains grateful in situations, even those that may seem arduous, which allows him to keep a level head. He goes by a phrase, “…embracing the suck,” when it comes to facing tough times on set or in life.
Abell center of picture (to the left of the African American Ranger in the center) with his Ranger class RC 5-78. Photo courtesy of Tim Abell.
And Abell still embraces the Ranger Creed which he had to learn by heart as a Ranger.
The Ranger Creed
Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers.
Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other soldier.
Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some.
Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.
Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.
Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.
Rangers Lead The Way!!!
What are you most proud of from your service in the Army?
What I’m most proud of stems from Gen Abrams and the Abrams Charter. The Abrams Charter stated that the obligation for Rangers is to “Lead the Way” for the entire Army. In the Ranger Bn., the more senior Rangers set the example for the younger Rangers who had just graduated from RIP (Ranger Indoctrination Program) to follow. Always leading by example. The new Rangers learned very quickly what was expected of the in order to be a part of this elite group of Soldiers. To live up to the high standards and esprit de corps was not always an easy task. But more importantly the Abrams Charter spoke to those 75th Rangers who would set the example for the soldiers in the big Army after they left the Rangers.
So, when Abell was assigned to the 3rd US Infantry (The Old Guard) Caissons, he knew that he could be an asset as well as a role model to his fellow Old Guard soldiers. He was able to share his Ranger training and experience while being the NCOIC of the Expert Infantry Badge (EIB) Movement Under Direct Fire course at Ft. AP Hill. Abell’s station was a highlight of the EIB training due to the rigorous and realistic training Abell put the Old Guard soldiers through.
Abell (center) in “Sniper: Special Ops.” Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.
What values have you carried over from the Army into Hollywood?
Abell is grateful for his life experiences…especially in the Army. He brought discipline over to his Hollywood career. W/O discipline he has seen people fall off into the abyss of drinking, drugs, partying and sex…. some with fatal consequences.
He believes good judgement is vital. Character integrity and leadership are important as well. Abell says as a civilian he always refers to the Ranger Creed in tough times, which helps carry him forward and stay on track.
Abell hosted the “Grateful Nation” tv series on the Outdoor Channel for 10 seasons where he helped tell the story of our returning war veterans…. many of whom needed to find a new Mission & Purpose in life after the military in order to find happiness… if not then it was a slippery slope for many veterans who find it too easy to just take their meds, drink a fifth of booze, play video games and start thinking stupid thoughts…. but Abell found that many veterans who found that new mission and purpose saved their own lives as well as inspiring other veterans to do the same.
Abell (right) while serving with “The Old Guard.” Photo courtesy of Tim Abell.
What project did you most enjoy doing while working in Hollywood?
Abell most enjoyed playing USMC Scout/Sniper SSG Benny Ray Riddle in Jerry Bruckheimer’s syndicated tv series “Soldier of Fortune inc.” It was a role where Abell could utilize all of his military and even use some of his old Ranger gear to bring and authenticity to Benny Ray whom was an amalgamation of more than a a few of the hardcore leaders he was led by as a young Ranger.
Abell also loved playing SFC Vic Mosby in the action film “Sniper Special Ops” starring Steven Seagal and Dale Dye, directed and written by his pal and Navy Veteran Fred Olen Ray. This was a role the director had written specifically for Abell who was quite honored by his friends’ trust to carry his film in a starring role.
“ Circus Kane ” was Abells first foray into a feature length horror film directed by Navy Veteran Christopher Ray. Abell underwent 5 plus hours of prosthetics makeup to create Balthazar Kane. Abell felt like he was channeling Rob Zombie in a Circus of Horrors as the Ringmaster! The director allowed Abell to use all of his creative abilities to bring Kane to life on the screen.
And Soldier of God is still one of Abell’s favorite projects that he starred in and helped produce. He plays Rene’ a Knights Templar who is separated from his men after the Battle at The Horne\s of Hattin… Rene becomes a warrior
in search of a war… a warrior questioning his faith. It’s a film with so much beauty yet so much darkness.
Abell in “Soldier of God.” Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.
Abell as “Balthazar Kane” in “Circus Kane.” Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.
Abell (far left) for MOH Dinner and Gala, with Special Agent Tim Clemente, MOH Col. Bruce Crandall, USA and with Matthew Mardsen. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.
What was it like working on such projects as We Were Soldiers, Soldiers of Fortune, JAG, NCIS, CSI:NY, CSI: Miami, Criminal Minds and the like?
As Benny Ray Riddle in “Soldier of Fortune, Inc.” Abell played a USMC Scout/Sniper. Abell did extensive research for his character who was the quintessential sniper and Marine. A stoic man who loved his job and was the best at what he did . Navy SEAL Harry Humphries who was the Technical Advisor for SOF series linked Abell up with SEAL Steve Bailey at NSW Coronado for some training. Abell’s SF buddy, Matt Anderson, created Benny Ray’s Sniper Range book that Abell used on the show. It all came down to attention to detail in creating Benny Ray so that if military types watched the series Benny Ray would be believable and authentic to them. Abell recently did a short film called “Father and Sons” with pal Michael Broderick, Vernon Mortenson and Ryan Curtis. All veterans. The film was based on characters from author and Navy SEAL Jack Carr’s books. Abell says, “what is cool is Jack sent me a few of his books and sent a note saying he was a fan of the “Soldier of Fortune, Inc” series especially Benny Ray Riddle who was also a sniper like him! Jack said he and his pals would watch the show to get fired up!” That was a great compliment to hear from a SEAL sniper and operator like Jack Carr…. Abell’s preparation was not in vain.
Tim has played a member of every armed forces branch in film and tv …. he even played a Coast Guard pilot in a commercial. He finds a lot of similarities among military roles and in the research he has done. It is in the little differences between each branch he finds diversity. He supports veterans as a member of VME to help those new to the acting biz.
Abell loved working on “We Were Soldiers.” It was his first big studio film and working with Mel Gibson and Sam Elliott was a dream come true.
Working on JAG was an outstanding experience! Abell loved working with Jon Jackson and Catherine Bell!
Abell said, “Mark Harmon was a real pleasure to watch work and work with…. I’ve learned so much from working with and observing great actors like Joe Mantegna on “Criminal Minds” and Gary Sinise.”
Abell as “Benny Ray Riddle” in Jerry Bruckheimer’s “Soldier of Fortune, Inc” TV show.
Abell in “Angels and Fire.” Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.
What leadership lessons in life and from the Army have helped you most in your career?
Abell has also brought a perspective of maturity over from the Rangers. If he auditions for a part and doesn’t get it, he moves on. He focuses on the positive, processes what he needs to, and refuses to let a rejection be a devastating blow to his career. When in acting classes, he takes notes from the acting teacher, integrates them as needed and moves forward. He won’t argue with the acting teacher over opinions or comments, he takes the note and stays professional. Same as would be done in training where constructive criticism is taken in stride and you improve your performance the next time around. He appreciates honesty and directness in his professional work. While studying acting at the Studio Theater in DC, he most appreciated the feedback from Joy Zinoman, who was one of the professors at the theater. He shies away from talking about his abilities on or off set, where he prefers to assess the situation and quietly lead by example where it counts. He sets a standard like how he did as an NCO in the Rangers in his work in Hollywood.
He overlooks negative reviews where some of the critics have bad things to say about the projects he works on. He keeps complaints to himself and tries to find ways to fix challenges that are ahead. Abell wants to accomplish the mission on set. He still uses his military discipline in preparing for roles and in his work as an actor. He likes to ask the question to young actors on set, “What have you done today to be a better actor?” Where many times the young actors don’t have a coherent or logical reply to the question. Preparation is key to Abell’s success and stems from his upbringing and time in the service. Abell said, “…I take all those things I learned being in the military and being a Ranger. It’s like being prepared, not being a whiner, taking responsibility for myself, having a mission and purpose everyday when I wake up in the morning.”
Abell (center, left) with his fellow castmates on “Soldier of Fortune, Inc.” Photo courtesy of Tim Abell.
As a service, how do we get more veteran stories told in the Hollywood arena?
Abell believes having more writers with military experience are needed to get veteran stories told more in the industry. He relies on his belief that a person may be a veteran, but that does not preclude them to only writing stories on the military. They are an individual with military experience that can write anything they want to write. Writers with military experience have a vast life experience from which to draw upon, some of which may come from having served. Abell references fellow veteran and Army Ranger Brian Hanson’s film “The Black String” which is a horror film without any ties to the military. The film was produced by Grindstone and has been released on VOD and DVD starring Frankie Muniz from “Malcolm in the Middle” fame. Just because a writer is a veteran does not mean they are not capable of writing a story completely independent of the military.
Abell (second from the left) and his squad mates training while serving with the 2nd Ranger Battalion on an artic field operation near the Canadian border. Photo courtesy of Tim Abell.
What would you like to do next in your career?
Abell says, “I would love to be on a network or HBO or Showtime series and get to play a character again for three, four or five years where you just get to develop that character over the long haul.” He wants to delve in and build a character with depth. He also looks forward to working on a series again with great people where they make a show that moves people.
He recalls fan mail from across the world for his role on “Soldier of Fortune” where the show affected people’s lives. Abell has received fan mail that would be up to five pages long about how people were inspired by his character to become a sniper in the military in their country. People created a life based on a character Abell portrayed, which surprised him. Playing evil or hard characters are what most actors are remembered for where it is difficult to develop such characters and find redeeming traits to portray on screen in them.
Abell with MOH recipient SFC Leroy Petry, USA.
What are you most proud of in life and your career?
Abell is proud of service to the United States to serve as a Ranger and serve with “The Old Guard.” He is proud of his children and their successes in life as well. He is grateful for having made men out of his boys and for the example they set today. He is proud of being an American as well. Abell says, “…I have been all over the world and this is the greatest country in the world…that we have so many young men and women that are willing to join the military and sign that blank check for their life… I applaud them all.”
“You’re getting the body prepared for a number of motions,” Saladino told Men’s Journal. “These are more expansive than your typical lifting movements.”
He allows for flexibility in his workout routine.
Saladino noted that, while he and Reynolds tried to stick to a weekly strength plan that included two days off, it was constantly adjusted to fit the needs of his body and schedule.
“The biggest mistake that people make when making an exercise plan is not to listen to their body every day,” Saladino told Men’s Journal. “Ryan was a recent father and traveling a lot [when “Deadpool” was being filmed], so if he had been up all night with the baby, or just gotten off a plane from Singapore, you can best believe we were changing up the program.”
He took it upon himself to work out in his downtime.
“Don [Saladino] gave me a plan so I could train whenever I needed to,” Reynolds told Men’s Health in 2016. “It made things more manageable. And if I wanted to spend a little extra time with my daughter in the morning, I could do that.”
Reynolds has said that he has a “functional” approach to training rather than a “fashionable” one, so he usually prefers to work out alone and on his own time.
Saladino admitted that he is never concerned about Reynolds’ commitment to the workout regimen.
“Ryan’s such a hard worker,” Saladino told Men’s Health. “If anything, I had to scale him down. One day he came up to see me having been working out on his own and I was like, ‘Holy sh-t!’ He looked like a different person.”
“I like using these traditional movements with little twists,” Saladino explained. “This move, in particular, is not only maintaining the strength that he built up to play Deadpool but also encourages stabilization and balance. We have done exercises similar to this over the course of the past few years, but sometimes with a kettlebell and without the vest during our warm-ups.”
However, the father of two did admit that he can battle this aversion with outdoor exercises and activities.
“I love being outdoors,” he said. “There are forests all around [where I live] and I get to hike, mountain bike … just move. I’ll even bring the baby with me, put her in a little baby carrier thing and off we go. In a weird way, it’s a great workout because you’re adding 20 pounds to your bodyweight.”
It’s certainly admirable that Reynolds juggles his responsibilities as an action star with his growing family of four— but his DIY style when it comes to fitness can work for just about anyone.