NEW YORK, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Actor-producer Mark Wahlberg says he felt privileged to actually get to know Marcus Luttrell, the U.S. Navy SEAL he plays in the new military action-thriller, "Lone Survivor."
"For me, obviously, I had the good fortune of meeting the guy I was playing and spending time with him and having him be there throughout the entire process and helping me with anything I wanted or needed," Wahlberg told reporters in New York recently. "He's a very, very special individual and we're all honored to know him and to see the kind of man he is and I'm certainly inspired to be a better man because of him."
Directed by Peter Berg, the film is an adaptation of Luttrell's book about a harrowing real-life 2005 mission in which three of the four Navy SEALs sent to observe a Taliban camp in Afghanistan were killed during a standoff and several others died when their helicopter crashed while they were trying to rescue the men on the ground.
"When Pete first asked me to do it, I thought selfishly as actor, 'Wow, what a great opportunity to play a showy part.' And then when I read [the screenplay] and realized what it really entailed and what it was about, then, obviously, my perspective changed and it never was about me after that again. It was really about the guys we were portraying and every single person both in front of and behind the camera felt that same thing. It was a very special and unique set of circumstances I've never experienced before on a film and even when I watch the film, I don't think about what we did. I think of what happened to those guys and what Marcus was able to endure and to be able to survive and tell the story of his brothers. That was a very special thing and I think we're all proud to be a part of it. We were embraced by the SEAL community and the military as a whole because of everybody's intention going in was just to tell their story and make a tribute to not only them, but anyone who has ever walked into a recruiting office and, certainly, to their loved ones and anyone who has suffered loss," Wahlberg said.
The actor also noted he deliberately didn't read Luttrell's book before the cameras started rolling and relied only on the screenplay and his own discussions with the SEALs who were consultants on the film set.
"I didn't read the book before I made the movie, only because I read the screenplay first and I've been in the situation many times where you've adapted a piece of material and you always feel like something's been left out," Wahlberg explained. "I thought Pete did a really good job writing the screenplay. I was completely immersed in the world and I felt it, so I didn't want to go back and read the book and start complaining, 'Well, why isn't this in it?' You can debate that for hours, but I read the book after and I did feel like: 'Why wasn't this in there? Why wasn't that in there?' But that's how it goes."
So, did the experience of making the movie alter his thoughts on war?
"I don't like war, but I love soldiers. They're not the guys who decide whether or not they're going in and they don't really care. They have a job to do and they do it. Would it be nice to live in a world without it? Absolutely. I don't want any of these guys going over there and risking their lives, but that's what they do and that's why we made this tribute to all of them."
"Lone Survivor" is to open in limited release Friday and in theaters nationwide Jan. 10.