10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran

You may know Tom Skerritt for his iconic roles (Viper in Top Gun, anyone?) or his tell-tale mustache. But did you know he is an Air Force veteran? WATM had the opportunity to sit down with this Hollywood legend to learn more about his childhood, his work ethic and his time in service. Here are 10 questions with the unbeatable Tom Skerritt: 

  1. Can you share about your family and your life growing up?

My parents suffered through the Depression and lost quite a bit through it. I was born toward the end of the Depression and we had hard times and lived in Detroit. Detroit was a depression ridden city; I didn’t know the differences as a kid. I thought it was how life is. My school had creative programs where we were in public schools growing up. We had dance, shop, painting and similar programs. One Saturday morning a month, a school bus would take us to creative venues and I remember getting off the bus in front of the Detroit Institute of Arts. The first thing I see is Rodin’s The Thinker in front of the museum. I was about 7 or 8 years old then and am thinking, “naked guy, sitting on the toilet without the sports section.” We go into the museum and see a bronze plaque with a Shakespeare phrase, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” It stands as a distinct memory because the teacher had us write these things down, so it sticks with me. I then remember seeing a painting at the museum by Diego Rivera that was just so powerful. I had not seen anything like that so full of opinion, feeling, talent and genius.

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The Detroit Institute of Arts with Rodin’s The Thinker in front. Photo credit wikipedia.com.
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Rodin’s The Thinker in front of the DIA. Photo credit dia.org.

The next time was a Saturday morning where they took us to a rehearsal for a concert to be done that night. We were setting in the hall and out comes this guest conductor. He was Arturo Toscanini, who was a great conductor of the 20th century. He was very old and physically in bad shape. He was dressed in white and his hair was shooting off in every direction like Albert Einstein. He looked like a white angel. He raised the baton and physically he became thirty years old. He straightened out and came alive like a ballerina conducting this orchestra. The sound of it was unbelievable and he was yelling at them in Italian throughout the rehearsal. These two moments compelled me by knowing there was another world out there beyond the common neighborhood I grew up in. It stayed with me — to know there is something more to this life than the Depression. 

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The Rivera Court at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Photo credit dia.org.
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Diego Rivera’s artwork Detroit Industry, South Wall in the Detroit Institute of the Arts. Photo credit wikipedia.com.
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Arturo Toscanini. Photo credit wikipedia.com.
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Toscanini conducting an orchestra. Photo credit gramophone.co.uk.
  1. What made you want to join the Air Force and what was your experience like?

My father instructed me to get a trade after high school and nothing really registered to me, so I enlisted in the Air Force. I knew I needed direction and discipline. I needed something to accept as progress. I thought I could learn to fly… what did I know at 17? My older brother was a P-51 Mustang pilot in WWII so there was a dream there to do something bigger. I was very proud of my older brother where he was more like a father than my father could be. The Air Force gave me a purpose.  I learned so much about the country by just being in the Air Force. It is a wonderful frame of reference that informs my intelligence and how I look at life. 

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A P-51 Mustang utilized by US forces in WWII. Photo credit nationalinterest.org.

The Air Force was about me taking in where I was. My duty station was the Bergstrom Air Force Base, which is now closed. I got a lot out of living close to Austin, Texas. They offered me a promotion if I re-enlisted where I decided I needed an education and should use the GI Bill. The military made me feel like I needed to have that college education. I didn’t get to fly, but I sure tried. I didn’t know the math or anything towards flying. I didn’t have a frame of reference of what was required to be a pilot. 

After service for four years in the Air Force I used the GI Bill to go to UCLA. At that time UCLA was affordable where it was about $150 a year to study there. The GI Bill basically helped me pay the rent. I could go over to the West LA VA center for anything else I needed. LA in the 1960’s was laid back, easy and was nice then. I look back at LA with a great favor and what it gave me from going to school, learning to write, act and direct and the career I have. It makes me so damn appreciative of all it. The military was good for me and hope I was good for it.

I went to the university and studied English. The previous experiences with creative endeavors pushed more towards doing something creative. My other older brother used to play music for me as well when we were growing up, especially when our parents were out. My brother introduced me to classical music and jazz like Charlie Parker and Billie Holliday. The exuberance my brother exhibited when listening to the music and speaking of it left an indelible impression on me. I saw Citizen Kane growing up and was so impressed with it I decided I am going to write and direct that movie. I set the bar high.  

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Michael Ironside and Tom Skerritt in Top Gun. Photo credit fighterjetsworld.com.

I thought of having to understand writing and how it is to be an actor. So, I decided to take courses in acting and it would help me get through my shy phase. I was doing some local theater outside of UCLA to work with professional actors. Everything was about the challenge and going after it. After I got hired on a small film, I came out wanting to know how it was all put together, the sets, the actors and the writing. During this time, two people I became friends with were Robert Redford and Sydney Pollack.  

I found the quotes on leadership by John Wooden, a UCLA coach and professor at the time, to be so life giving, especially with how he influenced the players. He gave his guys a way of looking at things that they wouldn’t consider as athletes. I think the small things that your brain picks up across life sticks with you, which he taught the players. Wooden had a great philosophy approach to doing what you got to do. Whether it was passing a ball to another player where you just pass the damn thing or bigger in life. Wooden would instruct in such a way that was a lot more than just passing a ball. 

While at UCLA, I became friends with a neighbor who was a TV director where he hired me to do a couple acting jobs and TV work. I was mentored by him in film making, editing them and how he looked at the business. One day he calls up and says, ‘I have a movie to direct’. That movie turned out to be M*A*S*H and the director was Robert Altman. The studio initially hated the film where they weren’t going to release it. Altman got the critics to review it and they went berserk. Mentorship was a day to day thing from those in the industry where it was very important to me and my career. 

When I had completed M*A*S*H, an up and coming director named Hal Ashby connected with me. I started mentoring with him for about three years, so I was being mentored by Ashby and Altman at the same time. These guys invited me to see their work and wanted to be friends. I was then hired to do movies in Italy for over four years. 

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UCLA in the mid-20th century. Photo credit Amazon.com.
  1. What are you most proud of from your service in the USAF?

My service in the Air Force… I was a classification specialist at Bergstrom. If there was a motor vehicle airman in some air base in Italy, I would have to select them to be sent to Korea or wherever off the base. It was not what I wanted to have, but it was okay. 

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A Bergstrom AFB display of their aircraft. Photo credit fortwiki.com.
  1. What values have you carried over from the Air Force back into the civilian world? 

Focus and discipline with a better sense of who I was. 

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The Bergstrom AFB Twelfth Air Force HQ in the mid-1960s. Photo credit af12.acc.af.mil.
  1. What was one of the toughest lessons to learn coming from the service to Hollywood?

I don’t have one other than a lesson from childhood — an old man told us young kids to “just keep moving.” Every day I am writing, and people ask me why I work so hard. I am busy working on Triple Squirrels where we are collecting a lot of documentaries that have been on shelves for years. All of this stuff is still related to film. We are covering artists doing unique things in the Pacific North West from great fishing rivers from Idaho to the Pacific Ocean or some guy who claims he saw the sasquatch which is a legendary character in the forest. The man filmed it and it looks like a moose and not the sasquatch where the man was so serious about the event. Five guys up in Bellingham all had that common purpose, let’s put a motorcycle together that can break the land speed record. Unfortunately, the motor blew out on the motorcycle while running it at the salt flats before it could break the record. 

It is all wonderful, entertaining stuff such as glass workers like Dale Chihuly, one of the great glass artists in the world lives up here. It’s guys doing imaginative stuff. I keep going back to that and the imagination is such a gift to us human beings and sets us apart from all the other animals. It makes us curious and gives us the highs and lows that we have emotionally. It gives us the questions we have where it is all driven by our imaginative experience. The Air Force is the same thing with imagining to fly and being able to fly. I had a little bit of that experience in Top Gun, which made me feel like I was the real thing. 

All of these things of being an actor and writer and director where I look back on all of it and say, “Holy shit man, did you really cover some territory where you have some advantages that you could employ to give to other people?” There is one thing from the service such as having the back of the other person and you are looking out for them. That was one of the big things I loved about the military. In the military, you have the training to be aware of other people for their benefit and your own. Not always the same in the civilian world 

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran
A screenshot of the Triple Squirrels website. Photo credit triplesquirrels.com.
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A picture of Dale Chihuly with his artwork The Sun in London Berkeley Square in 2014 . Photo credit news.artnet.com
  1. What are your most favorite projects to have worked on?

I was fortunate to have worked with Ashby, Altman and then into The Turning Point which starred Mikhail Baryshnikov, Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine. All of these extraordinary people that I worked with where how could I pick out one favorite from M*A*S*H to Alien with Ridley Scott? Alton, Ashby and Ridley Scott were new when I worked with them. I met Tony Scott on the set of Alien, which led me to being involved in Top Gun. Being in films with just wonderful people from craft and how they approached life itself and how they applied it to the work they did. M*A*S*H was the best time I ever had in anything where I knew we had something and no one else did except, Altman and I. I just knew he was going to do something remarkable with all of the shooting he was doing. Alien was done about seven to eight years after M*A*S*H where those two films are in the top twenty-five films of the 20th century. So, I wanted to work to the level of Citizen Kane…*Tom laughs.

My getting close to Citizen Kane is being in two of the top films of the 20th century and then Top Gun and A River Runs Through It. All quite different with different approaches as an actor to each one of them. Doing interesting real people in every one of them where you had to make it real. It is hard to pick one out.

You bring all your past experiences into the roles you do in the future. My whole sense about life itself its how much of the good and not so good that you ingest and reject. All of it is there. This goes back to the Shakespeare quote from earlier, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” The creative process I began and later on understood what that meant. You have to have thinking processes based on what your imagination has to draw upon. I understand this through writing and looking back. I understand that everything leads to the next day, everything I got from life, the military, which has given me this discipline to write every day, it has given me a sense that words have value. That is not something you are conscious of, it is just who you are and part of who you are.  

For me having been in a situation to the military and bringing it to a role, you’re damn right it is still with me. I appreciate it and still do. I still have my gig line and can remember my serial number 16401805!  Why would I remember these things if they didn’t have something meaningful for me? You know about your posture as well from the military. 

Doing “Picket Fences” in the 90s for four years and getting sixteen Emmys over four years for best show, actor, writer and that sort of stuff. To be in that environment, especially high end, you get spoiled in it and I admit that. It is an unusual career for a person that wants to be a writer and director. I did some directing on David E. Kelly’s TV shows such as “Picket Fences” and “Big Little Lies”. Kelley was another mentor of mine which he makes about the best TV can get. 

What I am trying to give people through Triple Squirrels is the enjoyment of their own imagination. I ought to try and fish, or try to mess around with some glass, or get some scrap metal and make a motorcycle. You feel better about yourself when you feel there is something you might be able to do that makes you feel good. Life is largely a stew with salt, pepper and onions where you come up with this extraordinary stew of life. 

I am trying to share a lot about life where I have been working with young filmmakers to get in touch with themselves. They want to make a movie like someone else where you make your own movie based on who you are and what comes out of that. 

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Elliott Gould, Tom Skerritt and Donald Sutherland in MAS*H. Photo credit IMDB.com.
  1. Can you share about some of your experiences working on “Gunsmoke”, “The FBI”, “Bonanza”, “The Virginian”, “Combat!”, “12 O’Clock High”, “Pickett Fences” and then on M*A*S*H, Alien, The Dead Zone, Top Gun, A River Runs Through It, Tears of the Sun and the like?

A great sense of gratitude and appreciation and good fortune to be able to do all of that. I don’t think many people in the business I am in have not had that overreaching of two or three decades of extraordinary projects. Stage acting is quite different than TV and motion pictures. Each one has a different approach to it. TV is always geared for twelve-minute segments before going to commercial. You have an unreal behavioral pattern in TV more so than film or stage or real life. In TV you have to get the answers real quick, respond real quick and draw that gun and shoot a guy. In film you want to resolve the issue more without the shooting.  Let’s get down to see what we really want to work out here. On stage it becomes never getting around to shoot each other it is about getting to understand each other. Your honest engagement of that story in resolving our difference of opinion in theater, film is different and in TV you are working towards a commercial. TV lacks the grace of film and the courage stage has. 

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Skerritt in the tv show “Combat!”. Photo credit twitter.com.
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Tom in the tv show “12 O’Clock High”. Photo credit

For Top Gun I read the script where I didn’t know who the director was at the time. I thought it was really solid and then heard that Tony Scott was going to direct it. I heard about the film like having heard about Ridley doing Alien. I read the Alien script and thought it was solid where they had only been to me, so Ridley was not attached to it that early on. Top Gun was already going to be done with the budget and good producers. I knew nothing else and then found out Tony was going to direct. It came together and then met Tom Cruise in the office to meet with Tony and with the producers. Tom was out in the waiting area with me. I had seen Tom act in Risky Business and thought he was a good young actor. I said to him, “you are a pretty good actor, where did you come up with that juice?” Tom responded, “By watching guys like you, Sir.” I thought, “Wow, a young gentleman that appreciated his opportunity in Top Gun.” He was not egomaniacal the way some actors can be in the movie business where it is all about me. For me I am always learning so I never felt that way where Top Gun is that type of thing where Tony is teaching me as well. 

I get it from Ridley on Alien and then from Tony where they were both similar. They were both soccer players and believe in getting into rhythms as athletes and musicians do. All of these rhythms come into what we do. I felt very strong about Tony and for one of the few times really pushed to get into the film. Some of the producers felt I was too lethargic or casual and not military enough. I had been in the military so I could pull that one off going back with the gig line on and pack into that presence you had when you were in the service. 

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Tom with James Woods, Jodie Foster, and Geoffrey Blake in Contact. Photo credit Pinterest.

Once I got the role, I met the actual Top Gun commander. I used him as he was a thoughtful guy. I think the producers wanted someone who would be barking at the guys and getting on them all the time. I didn’t think the officer had to be someone shouting at other people. You just look them in the eye and say, “Why would do such a dumb thing as that? What accounts for that behavior you pulled off out there because you didn’t pull it off that’s why you are in this office right now?” 

The reality of our life informs us in how we perform and that’s really all I could do in getting that role. To work with Tony, that script and then Tom Cruise pulled it all together. I was very sure about that film being very successful before I got into it. The instincts come back to me from going back into the Air Force where they never leave you. It becomes all things if you are conscious of them or not. They do lead our behavior patterns and how we pursue our life we have to live. I am delighted to have the life I have even with all of the not so good. 

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Tom Cruise, Anthony Edwards, Michael Ironside and Tom Skerritt in Top Gun. Photo credit IMDB.com.
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Dylan McDermott, Julia Roberts and Tom Skerritt in Steel Magnolia. Photo credit Pinterest.com.
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Tom Skerritt with the cast from Alien. Photo credit IMBD.com.
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Craig Sheffer, Brad Pitt and Tom Skerritt in A River Runs Through It. Photo credit NY Times.
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Skerritt with the cast of “Picket Fences”. Photo credit imdb.com.
  1. What leadership lessons in life and from the USAF have helped you most in your career?

Self worth and the will to do more. I don’t feel all that I need to do and all that I can do. There is a lot to learn still. When you have that in your life it is a big purpose. 

When I started hearing about veterans coming home from the Middle East with severe PTSD during the 2000s, I felt responsibility for them. I was not in a position to do it for them when it pulled on me. I was able to level out through setting up a writing program for them. In some way this is all a gift where you just fully appreciate the best you can give. We, through the Red Badge Program, took veterans down to Ft. Lewis-McChord AFB to teach those guys coming back how to utilize PTSD experience in terms of telling a story. Usually the bad stuff of what happened took place when under extreme stress. We had teachers come in to teach them how to tell their story and the best way they possibly can. It has to do with these dealing with their own feelings and being able to express that. 

The best way for me to relate to veterans is from some of my own PTS experiences. During the 60s and 70s as a young father and husband I had to deal with some intense family issues, many times dealing with the safety of my children. I was on 24/7 surveillance and did not always know when and who to trust. It was a tough time for me personally, but a good time for me professionally where acting was this cathartic release for me. Things did get better for me and my family thankfully.

We had musicians come in to play music for them so they could write lyrics to the music. The veterans came out of their feeling so much better about themselves. I had veterans come up to me and tell me, “I was ready to do myself in. You saved my life.”  We had it for about seven or eight years where it was a hot news item with so many veterans committing suicide. We had to teach the veterans off base at the University of Washington-Tacoma branch because the military was not consistent with us since we were some soft, fluffy thing. The military was keeping veterans from coming at times, which stood in the way of what we were doing.  We were able to set up a community away from the military where they can feel comfortable in that environment without being evaluated. I gave the veterans my stories and they gave me theirs where we could trust each other. That’s really what they got. Most often they said, “I could trust myself; I got a trust of people and I felt like I could be true.” That sounds simple, but it’s not simple. 

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Skerritt speaking to a group of veterans about The Red Badge Project. Photo credit the Eastoregonian.com.
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Tom Skerritt supporting veteran hiring through The Red Badge Project. Photo credit Army.mil.
  1. How do we get more veteran stories told in the Hollywood arena?

The Hollywood arena has changed so much where I don’t know how it works anymore. Most of the films I was involved had a good story line. It was always about the story first. Hollywood has gotten so much into nine-digit budget films in the summer being a financial resource. Once you get to there its like saying, “I know it all.” They would make their own audience, age 17-39, from the early 90s on with every generation that came along they would replicate the same special effects, same story line just realigned to where they lost touch with the good stories they could tell. The screenplays became soft from then on and once they are soft there is nothing shocking about it. When you make films that have a lot to do with shooting and killing, some of it may be comedy, but it is the most influential of mediums, so you must be responsible. We have a responsibility to do the best we possibly can for the audience. It’s not the right approach to have aggressive, hostile and angry films like how to blow some up. Whatever it may be, and it does influence impressionable young minds. It does influence some kids in high schools killing other students. It does influence people. 

The concern with studios and blockbuster ran out about six summers ago. All of those films had a sense of darkness and fear in them. We are running downhill where people are not reacting the same way they used to be scared. It is the same in so many ways that you have seen before. Once the reaction is gone you don’t return to the movies where less tickets have been sold the last six summers. Studios realized how in debt they were and always relied on big blockbusters to bring revenue back to the studios. When the revenue falls out you still have a lot of bills to pay. We are in a pit now in the lion’s den with movies. Hollywood will make some crafty films but will not be making as many as before.

  1. What are you most proud of in life and your career?

I don’t think that way, where I am just grateful to have done so many projects. It has been extraordinary where working in Europe and Italy for three or four years and seeing ruins of great civilizations and the Renaissance buildings. Finding that only culture can come from conflict and resolution. We are in the deepest conflict here in America right now. We should be concerned about where we are going. What am I most proud of? I don’t know how to answer that because I have had a lot of good fortune. I am proud of what I can say to you and proud to have the capabilities and the wife I have and the children that I have. I know what they have had to go through with me, and they are still with me and we have that love. I have this wonderful woman, Julia where we have been together for 25 years. I have to tell you I appreciate her beyond words in a way that I could not if I hadn’t had all of these other life experiences, I related to you. That is the first time I ever said that. I have this woman I have now. I am also proud to have been in the US military. 

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Tom with Julie. Photo credit Pinterest.com.
MIGHTY MOVIES

This classic Disney and ‘Full Metal Jacket’ mashup is great

It’s definitely not canon, but this video of Gunnery Sgt. Donald Duck ripping into new recruits from the Disney Universe is hilarious, featuring Goofy trying to pull off a satisfactory war face as Pluto attempts to keep a straight face and the Duck rips into them both. Full Metal Jacket has never been so whimsical.



Xavier Avalos

www.facebook.com

In the clip, made with a little audio engineering and one of the best scenes from Full Metal Jacket, Goofy, Pluto, and Mickey join the Marine Corps and run right into one of the angriest characters from classic Disney, Donald Duck, now a gunnery sergeant and drill instructor in the “beloved corps.”

Duck had a long and storied military career by the time the Vietnam War rolled around, jumping behind enemy lines and attacking Japanese camps during World War II. But, oddly enough, Pluto served in the same war. He was a private in the Army during World War II, assigned to guard artillery emplacements against attacks by saboteurs and chipmunks.

He wasn’t particularly great at it, so maybe that’s why, two decades later, he’s just a recruit in Marine Corps basic.

Or, you know, alternate theory: The Full Metal Jacket mashup is just a fun joke on the internet and not actually part of the characters’ storylines. Since it’s clearly not sanctioned by Disney and features Donald Duck letting out a string of profanities and a few colorful suggestions, we’re gonna go out on a limb and say this isn’t canon.

Still pretty funny, though.

Avalos has some other good Full Metal Jacket mashups in his Facebook feed, but I still think the best Full Metal Jacket mashup came from YouTuber Tyler P. who put the movie’s audio over Santa’s workshop from the old claymation Christmas movies.

Full Metal Jacket and the late, great R. Lee Ermey are the gifts that keep on giving. The movie and the man have taught us life lessons, made us laugh out loud, and even had leading roles in our favorite video games.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Why we’re pumped about the new ‘Overlord’ film

There’s a special place in our hearts for zombie films. It’s a fun little escape to the smokepit conversations every troop has while deployed, like, “who would your zombie apocalypse team be?” And, “where would you go looting first?” Obviously, the only correct answers are your squadmates and the nearest gunshop, respectively, but I digress.

Zombie films have a strange place in the cinematic landscape. The ones that embrace the campiness of the genre tend to be more successful financially and the lower the budget of a zombie film, the more fun (or funny) it’ll probably be. This is part of what made the veteran-made Range 15 so enjoyable to other veterans who enjoy that special, corny magic typical of zombie films.

It was recently announced that J.J. Abrams is set to produce the upcoming film Overlord. From the looks of things, it’s going to be a zombie film set during the events of the Battle of Normandy — also known as Operation Overlord.


10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran

Kind of like the Norwegian film ‘Dead Snow.’

(Euforia Films)

There is a bit of historical precedent for the film. The Nazis never created zombies (obviously), but their fascination with the occult and fringe sciences has been well documented. Hitler, in addition to being a mass-murdering f*ckhead, was obsessed with everything occult in trying to get an edge. This ranged from having officers study Nordic runes to sending troops into Tibet in search of Shangri-la and all sorts of messed-up stuff to create their so-called “übermensch.”

There is no historical record of the Nazis ever trying to reanimate the dead in any Frankensteinian or Lovecraftian manner, but it isn’t too far of a stretch to play on Hitler’s “thousand year army” dream to include “thousand year soldiers.”

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran

The biggest homage has got to be given to the 1985 film, ‘Re-Animator.’

(Empire International Pictures)

Judging by the trailers, this film seems like it’s going to be an homage to both the war and zombie genres of film. Of course, fans have been quick to point out the similarities between it and Call of Duty‘s Nazi Zombie mode or Return to Castle Wolfenstein, if you want to actually want to get your gaming history right. In the film’s defense, it’s actually making far more references to the mutated Nazi monsters and transformation scenes in An American Werewolf in London.

It’s also interesting to note that this is the first rated-R film for both Bad Robot and J.J Abrams. It’s been said numerous times by Abrams himself that the film is not going to be a part of the Cloverfield franchise. While he’s known for his misdirection, it seems like he’s telling the truth, you know, since the Cloverfield alien was from space and this film is set in Nazi-occupied France.

The film also has plenty of great actors attached who have an impressive action-feature resume. Jovan Adepo of The Leftovers, Jacob Anderson of Game of Thrones, Bokeem Woodbine of The Rock and Riddick, and Wyatt Russell from the Black Mirror episode ‘Playtest’ are all co-leads against Pilou Asbæk’s (Euron Greyjoy from Game of Thrones) evil Nazi scientist character.

Overlord is going to be directed by Julius Avery, the director of the Australian indie film, Son of a Gun. Billy Ray, the writer of Captain Phillips, and Mark L. Smith, screenplay writer for The Revenant, co-wrote the script.

The film is scheduled for release on November 9th, 2018, but you can watch the trailer below right now.

Articles

This is how Christopher Nolan faithfully revives ‘The Dunkirk Spirit’

Not many film sets have to scan for unexploded ordnance before production can begin — but filming “Dunkirk” required just that. Luckily, nothing was left behind from a battle now more than 75 years old, and director Christopher Nolan was able to bring “The Dunkirk Spirit” back to life.


10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran
(Warner Bros.)

In 1940, the outcome of World War II looked bleak for Europe. France fell within weeks of the start of the German blitzkrieg, and the British Expeditionary Force — along with its French and Belgian allies — was trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk by the Nazi war machine.

Their salvation wasn’t coming from the Royal Navy or Air Force. No reinforcements were on the way. There would be more battles to fight, and those ships, planes, and men would be needed for the coming days.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Vice-Admiral Bertram Ramsay put Operation Dynamo, a planned evacuation of the British forces from Dunkirk, into action. In Dynamo, the British military enlisted the aid of British civilians and their personal boats to ferry the men off the beaches and take them back to the home island.

The 400,000 stranded at Dunkirk would just have to survive.

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran

Sometimes, survival is enough.

Survival is what Christopher Nolan’s new film “Dunkirk” is about. The director has said numerous times that “Dunkirk” is not a war movie.

“People will call it what they want to call it when they see it,” Nolan told We Are The Mighty. “For me, having never fought in a war, the idea of diving in and telling a war story is daunting, it felt presumptuous. This is not something that I profess to be knowledgeable about. What I was fascinated by was the evacuation itself which to me, it’s not so much a conventional war story, it’s an honor story. It’s a race against time.”
The men on the beach at Dunkirk had to maintain their grit and their stiff upper lip in the face of an enemy that had them outgunned and surrounded. This spirit of determination became known in British culture as “The Dunkirk Spirit.”

“It has a deep meaning for the English people,” says Mark Rylance, who plays one of the Little Ship captains who sails for Dunkirk. “We were the underdogs on that beach but we rose to the occasion and eluded the enemy. The Dunkirk Spirit has to do with that perseverance, endurance, and also selflessness.”

An experience is an apt description of Dunkirk. The movie is shot on 65mm IMAX film, making for a truly immersive WWII moviegoing experience for the viewer. “Dunkirk’s” visual beauty comes from the attention to detail Nolan brings to telling the stories — from filming the movie at the beaches of Dunkirk, to the British .303 rifles, and the use of the real “Little Ships” (as they came to be called) in the film.

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran
Mark Rylance portrays Dawcett, a Little Boat captain. (Warner Bros.)

Nolan even crossed the English Channel on a small vessel, similar to one of the little ships. His voyage took 19 hours in the choppy seas of the channel.

“It was a very arduous crossing,” the director notes. “And that was without anyone bombing us. What really stuck with me was the notion of civilians taking small boats into a war zone. They could see the smoke and the fires for many miles. So their willingness to do that and what that says about communal spirit are extraordinary.”

The director was even able to sit down with veterans of the BEF at Dunkirk, who told him of their experience and added to the historical value of the film.

“There are very few left since 1914 so it was an honor for me to experience,” Nolan says. “They very generously met with us and told us of their experiences. It’s one thing to study history with books. It’s another to sit across the table from someone who’s actually lived it and listen to their story.”

Dynamo’s plan was to save at least 40,000 men from encirclement and destruction. The Little Ships helped pull a total of 338,000 troops off the beach.

The “Dunkirk” story extends beyond the beaches and seas of the French coast. Nolan’s film tells the story from three points of view, using fictional characters to tell the full story of what happened on the land, seas, and in the air. It took about a week for ground troops to get off the beach via a mole (a large breakwater, often with a wooden pier built atop it), a day to cross the channel by boat, and an hour to cross by air.

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran

Nolan’s story spans all three time frames and he faithfully recreates the extraordinary measures everyone at Dunkirk — including those in the skies above — took to survive. The operation to pull the recreation together was like a military operation in itself: thousands of extras, real French destroyers, and roaring British Spitfire and German ME-109 engines.

The effort took a toll on the filmmakers as well.

“I chose to really try and put the audience into that situation,” Nolan says. “Make them feel some degree of what it would be like to be there on that beach. I’d like the audience to go home with an understand of what happened there and hopefully some interest and respect for the war and the history of the real-life events”

“Dunkirk” opens in theaters July 21st.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Hair today, gone tomorrow: When Elvis joined the Army

When Elvis Presley turned 18 years old in 1953, he registered for the draft – just like every other young American male during that time. The rules governing the draft stated that all young men that were in good health were required to serve in the United States military for a minimum of two years. When he signed his name on that line, promising to serve, he had no idea of the superstar fame that would soon be coming his way.


After signing up for the draft, he graduated high school and soon began his entertainment career. Three years later in 1956, he was a film and recording star. Presley was in the middle of filming King Creole when he received his draft notice. He requested a delay so he could finish filming, which he was granted.

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran
Public Domain

On March 24, 1958, with his family and friends by his side, The King reported to the Memphis draft board. Once he was sworn in and processed with others into the Army, he boarded a bus to Arkansas.

He would go on to coin the phrase “hair today, gone tomorrow” after he received his G.I. haircut.

Once Presley finished his basic training, he was on leave and managed to do a concert and recording session in Nashville. He then headed back to Ft. Hood, Texas, to complete his advanced training. His mother became ill during this time and passed away and Presley was granted leave to be with her.

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran
Public domain

When he returned to Ft. Hood, he was assigned to the Third Armored Spearhead Division. He soon boarded the U.S.S. Randall and sailed for Germany. Upon arrival, he served in Company C, which was a scout platoon. He was declared off limits to the press.

Presley would be right there in the thick of things alongside his unit. He completed all required duties. Some research suggested that he did more than what was required of him because he didn’t want people to assume he got special treatment. He would go on to earn a medal for expert marksmanship and rise to the responsibility of an NCO, all without seeking celebrity treatment.

He was honorably discharged from active duty in 1960.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Here’s when the last Stan Lee cameo will happen

Fans now have one more reason to be excited for the upcoming release of Avengers: Endgame. According to the film’s director, the fourth flick will feature Stan Lee’s final cameo in a Marvel movie.

“It’s his last one committed to film,” Joe Russo told Mashable at a press day in Los Angeles, squelching the rumor that had been going around that Lee’s final appearance would be in July 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home.


Russo went on to add, “I have to say, I think it’s astonishing that this would be his last cameo. It’s just kind of mind-boggling that he made it to the end of this run. I can’t believe it.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ttyvv6X4_Y
EVERY STAN LEE CAMEO EVER (1989-2018)

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Since Iron Man in 2008, the comic book legend, who passed away in 2018 at the age of 95, has found his way into every installment of the Marvel franchise, even after his death. His most recent cameo was in Captain Marvel, which came out in March 2019. In the brief clip, Lee plays himself as a passenger on a train, rehearsing lines from a script.

And while the upcoming film will be the last time viewers get to see Lee on-screen, some wonder whether the Avengers movie will contain more than one cameo due to its three-hour length. After all, at just over two hours long, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2had not one but two appearances from Lee.

Regardless, fans of the superhero series don’t have to wait much longer to find out. Avengers: Endgames is set to be released in theaters nationwide on April 26 2019.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

The ‘Space Force’ series trailer is here… and it’s outta this world

“This is a great adventure we are embarking on today,” so says the official Space Force trailer that dropped on May 5 for Netflix’s new series featuring Steve Carrell and an all-star cast. How else is everyone’s favorite sixth branch of the military, Space Force, referred to in the trailer? “It’s a complete shitshow.”


Launching May 29, the made-for-Netflix series pairs an already awesome cast with sarcasm, hilarity and the best topic ever: the Space Force.

The show centers around four star general Mark R. Naird (Carell), whose ambitions included running the Air Force, not so much the newly created Space Force. With wife (Lisa Kudrow) by his side and a star-studded comedic-gold line up (John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz, Jimmy O. Yang, Noah Emmerich, Fred Willard, Tawny Newsome, Diana Silvers, Alex Sparrow and Don Lake to name a few), the acting promises to be as equally entertaining as the writing – as Space Force marks the first time long-time friends Carrell and creator Greg Daniels have worked together since they parted ways on, you guessed it, The Office.

In an interview with Deadline, Carrell and Daniels chatted about how the show came to be and where it’s heading.

Carell said that the show came around in a rather “atypical way.'””Netflix had this premise that they thought might make a funny show — the idea made everybody laugh in a meeting, an idea of a show about the origins of a fictitious Space Force. I heard about the idea through my agent, and Netflix pitched the show to me, and then I pitched the show to Greg, and we all had the same reaction to it. There was no show, there was no idea aside from the title. Netflix asked, ‘Do you want to do a show called Space Force?’ And I pretty much immediately said, ‘Well yeah, sure. That sounds great.’ And then I called Greg, and I said, “Hey, you want to do a show called Space Force?” And he said, “Yeah, that sounds good. Let’s do it.” And it was really based on nothing, except this name that made everybody laugh. So we were off and running.”
Daniels added after this call, he and Carell created the character and figured out what they wanted to say about the notion of making space more military. “We realized that the story had beautiful visuals and a mythic quality, and it echoed some of America’s best moments. It had a lot of heroism and yet it also had a strong satirical element. Suddenly everybody has realized that there are riches to be had on the moon, and we’ve got to stake our claim. It feels like there’s now a scramble to colonize space. The contrast between that and the super hopeful early days of NASA, when it was just such an achievement for all of mankind to get a person on the moon, is a good subject for satire,” said Daniels.
SPACE FORCE Official Trailer (HD) Steve Carrell

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SPACE FORCE Official Trailer (HD) Steve Carrell

SPACE FORCE – 2020 – COMEDY – STEVE CARRELL Steve Carell, welcome to Space Force. From the crew that brought you The Office, Space Force is coming soon to Netflix.

We can’t wait. In fact, we’re over the moon.

MIGHTY MOVIES

How The Punisher’s tactics just keep getting better and better

The Punisher is one of Marvel fans’ all-time favorite antiheroes, giving the corrupt and twisted what they have coming to them. When The Punisher first showed up in comics, Frank Castle was more of a run-and-gun crazy lunatic. But as Castle evolved, so did The Punisher’s tactics.


Early iterations of the character fell into some common Hollywood traps, though.

The film Punisher War Zone was almost near-complete adaptation of The Punisher comics. The film employed crazy, off-the-wall action and run-and-gun tactics — we all know the famous image of Punisher and his two uzis. Though the movie captured The Punisher’s persona, it fell short of its military fans’ expectations.

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran
Always with the dual wield.

In 2004’s The Punisherwe saw a more tactical side of Frank Castle. Using a bow to take out opponent after opponent was far more interesting than shooting up a room full of bad guys. This idea kept up with how a special operator would actually work: swiftly, silently, and deadly.

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran
Even the Punisher can’t shoot two of these at once.

This brings us to the Netflix original series, The Punisher. After watching Daredevil for two seasons, I was so excited The Punisher was getting his own show. Jon Bernthal’s portrayal of Frank Castle was masterful. He clearly knows that many fans of The Punisher are those with ties to the military.

In this first season, we see a modern Punisher setting up improvised explosive devices, placing weapons all around his place of residency, and using shoot-and-move tactics. There is a saying, “movement without shooting is suicide, shooting without movement is a waste of ammo.” How Frank Castle moves with each weapon embodies this expression, showing a level of detail that films typically only mimic.

When Frank Castle explained that he’d rather have a knife than a pistol in certain situations, it had some very sound tactical advice behind it — and made for some really intense action sequences.

The new The Punisher series on Netflix is a good show to binge watch. They took the time to get the tactical concepts right — something refreshing to finally see on-screen.

The major downfall, however, comes when Frank barks and yells. In combat, information is key, so noise discipline is necessary. Barking and loosing a war cry works in some cases, but not every time.

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran
At least he’s not trying to kill Wolverine with a gun, though.

So far, Netflix has done a great job of not making Frank Castle feel so “Hollywood,” making many Marine fans of The Punisher quite happy and ready to move on to the next season.

MIGHTY MOVIES

The next ‘Star Wars’ show on Disney+ isn’t the one you expected

Just a few months after the final episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars hit Disney+, the streaming service announced that a spin-off series would premiere next year.

The Bad Batch seems primed to follow a structure that’s worked well in plenty of TV shows and movies, in everything from The Great Escape to Captain Planet to the Avengers films. It will revolve around “the unique and experimental clones” of Clone Force 99, a group of clone soldiers genetically distinct from the rest of the Clone Army. Basically, this isn’t the Ewan McGregor Obi-Wan show you were promised, but instead a spin-off from the existing (and complicated) animated Star Wars shows that have been running for over a decade.


All four members of the Bad Batch have a “desirable mutation” that makes them formidable soldiers. Crosshair has enhanced eyesight, Wrecker is strong, Tech is intelligent, and Clone Sergeant Hunter, the leader of the crew, has enhanced sensory abilities.

Twitter

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The Bad Batch was first introduced in the final season of The Clone Wars, so it’s appropriate that Dave Filoni — a director, writer, animator, and producer on that series — will executive produce the spin-off. Filoni is a key figure in Disney’s Star Wars plans, doing animation for The Force Awakens and four other animated Star Wars series. He also directed, wrote, and executive produced episodes of The Mandalorian.

All in all, this is good news for parents whose kids are still mourning the loss of The Clone Wars, as the creative talent and choice of subject matter for The Bad Batch makes it seem as though the new series will preserve what made the old one great. That said, it is kind of bad news for parents who wanted a little bit more of a strong female lead, Ahsoka Tano, or, you know, a new Star Wars show that wasn’t a cartoon.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch will come to Disney+ in 2021.

And, luckily, The Mandalorian Season 2 will still hit Disney+ sometime in late 2020.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

Articles

This is the German general who inspired a terrifying ‘Wonder Woman’ villain

“Wonder Woman” hit theaters on June 2nd and has been a massive critical and box-office success. It’s a comic book/superhero movie, but it also happens to be a historical movie taking place in Europe during World War I.


So, while this movie’s main character is a bad-ass woman made of clay (she can also fly) who fights bad guys with a magical lasso, there are some things that are actually very real about who she’s fighting.

In the movie, General Ludendorff, played by Danny Huston, is a general in the Imperial German Army. He’s ruthless, ambitious, and will do whatever it takes to win the war for Germany, including using chemical weapons.

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran
Gen. Erich Ludendorff. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

General Eric Ludendorff was a real German general in World War I. According to Uproxx, he was an advocate for “total war.” And from 1916 to 1918, he was the leader of Germany’s war efforts.

The real Ludendorff has been credited for coining the “stab in the back” myth. After World War I, right-wing Germans believed that the Germans didn’t lose the war on the battlefield, but instead that they lost the war because other Germans betrayed them on the homefront. Ludendorff blamed the Berlin government and German civilians for failing to support him.

In the 1920s, he became a prominent right-wing leader in Germany, serving in Parliament for the National Socialist Party. He also had associations with Adolf Hitler and other Nazis.

Ludendorff stood for war, and Wonder Woman stands for peace, so it makes sense that director Patty Jenkins and screenwriter Allan Heinberg turned to Ludendorff for their villain.

Articles

Keanu brings the pain in the newest trailer for ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’

Professional pain-factory John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is back for a sequel, and once again, there’s a whole cadre of well-dressed people who want him dead.


But if this trailer is any indication, they don’t stand a chance.

The star made waves online earlier this year when a video was released showing Reeves practicing his three-gun skills with tactical shooting master Taran Butler. The hard work appears to have paid off, as the trailer shows Wick aerating assailants in a variety of creative styles.

Reeves’ is joined by fellow Matrix star Laurence Fishburne, as well as Common, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, and Ian McShane.

‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ hits theaters everywhere on February 10th, 2017.

MIGHTY MOVIES

VET Tv’s ‘A Grunt’s Life’ will be a cult-classic among troops and vets

It’s hard to find a good military film that truly encapsulates the spirit of the military. There’s a huge pile of duds. You know the ones I’m referring to. Then you have your epics like Saving Private Ryan, Tora! Tora! Tora!, and Bridge over the River Kwai. They’re expertly crafted, but they still lack that personal flair. Platoon comes close, and it earned all four of its Oscars because director Oliver Stone served in Vietnam – but it’s toned down for a wider audience.

Then you have VET Tv’s Kickstarter-funded film A Grunt’s Life. What it lacks in not having a widespread cinema release, it easily makes up in authenticity. And holy f*ck… It’s really f*cking good.


With that authenticity, it paints a more accurate picture of the post 9/11 wars than any other film. Warts and all. That being said…

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran

There’s also plenty of fantasies about killing the buddy-f*cking commanding officer. You’ll learn to empathize with the platoon leader throughout the film.

(VetTV)

First thing’s first. A Grunt’s Life is not intended for family-friendly movie night. In fact, it’s a film that you kind of have to explain to your civilian friends/family before it shatters any previously held misconceptions about the military. Keep very much in mind that this film is basically what would happen if all of the deployment smoke pit conversations came to life and played out like we joked they would.

The film opens on the protagonist, Lt. Vince Murphy jacking off in the middle of a firefight and debating whether to join in or finish. A feeling anyone who’s ever been stuck on a Patrol Base could tell you is all too real. Even keeping an eye out on the background extras throughout the film, you’ll also almost always see them jerking it on guard duty. You’ll see plenty of dicks, but that’s kind of how deployments are…

There are also plenty of moments in the film that would be war crimes if committed in real life. Obviously, the filmmakers are not advocating them and even address them as being horrific with the characters entertaining the idea being called out as being horrific pieces of sh*t. But, well, that comes with the dark comedy that troops in the same grueling conditions adapt to.

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran

This film was done so well that you can’t even tell A Grunt’s Life was actually 185 times cheaper to make than Jarhead 2.

(VetTV)

One thing that I can’t stress enough about this film is the level of effort and quality that went into it. And it shows!

The production design is just as sh*tty as I remembered Afghanistan, and the little details in the costuming are spot on. The script is solid for a satisfying arc. The acting perfectly portrays real grunts (probably because much of the cast are vets.) The camera work is gorgeous, even if what’s on camera is absolutely disgusting. You can tell that everyone involved in the project poured their hearts into this film.

The film is crude. It’s so f*cking dark at times. I feel like a monster for laughing at moments that would make my family terrified. I f*cking love this film. It’s not going to see much play with a wider audience. Amazon banned it, the Department of Defense isn’t affiliated with it, and the only way to view it is on Vimeo at this link here.

And that’s alright. This film isn’t made for everyone. It’s made by vets, for vets. Time will tell that this film is going to endure and be a beloved classic among troops and veterans for years to come.

I give it 5.56 Stars.

You can watch the trailer below.

Articles

EA releases combat stats for ‘Star Wars Battlefront’ and the results are amazing

In November 2015, Electronic Arts Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment (aka EA DICE) released their first Star Wars Battlefront game since Disney purchased the franchise. In less than a month, the action shooter picked up an impressive set of gameplay statistics that were released in an infographic, describing the characters, kill counts, and tactics players use in the game.


The stats give good insights around how to win. The first and most obvious one: Don’t try to replicate tactics seen in the film. You are not a Jedi; the Force is not strong with you.

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran
Because a tow cable is not the way to take out a walking tank. Try that sh*t on a real battlefield, see how far it gets you.

 

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran
For the record, we predicted this one. Who puts blinders on a fighter??

 

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran
We nailed this one too. Maybe camouflage would make it easier to not get hit by rocks.

And it seems getting in a vehicle isn’t a good way to last longer. Or maybe it is. It’s definitely more fun.

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran
Maybe avoid flying those TIE fighters.

There is definitely a choice vehicle.

10 Questions with Tom Skerritt: Hollywood icon and US Air Force veteran
Admittedly, we were wrong about that one.

See the full infographic on EA’s Star Wars Battlefront page.

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