Portraying former Special Forces operatives on the new Netflix action movie Triple Frontier was an eye opening experience for the leading men of the movie, Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal.
Affleck, Hunnam and Hedlund were in Singapore last week to promote the movie, and during the press conference at Marina Bay Sands, all three actors said they came away from the set with a completely new perspective of what these servicemen go through after working with the film’s military advisors, which comprised ex-servicemen from the elite Navy SEALs and Delta Force units.
“Our military advisors on this were amazing. These guys abilities are the top of the top, And them sharing their experience and knowledge with us was amazing,” Hedlund said. “One of the extraordinary things they did when they came on was to put us in live-fire scenarios. So within 30 minutes of meeting each other, we were all doing live-fire exercises!
"I think that was something the military advisors had implored Netflix ... on the necessity of using live fire, just to focus us on the fact that this isn’t a game.”
Affleck added: "It's a profoundly humbling experience to be around these men and understand what the true nature of sacrifice, commitment and duty really was."
Hunnam was also awed by the authenticity of the advisers, citing one scene where his character is injured. “There is a moment in the movie when I sustain an injury, and in true Hollywood fashion, I overacted!” he said with a laugh.
“The military adviser came over and shared his experiences, where he sustained massive injuries. He said, ‘This is the reality, you have to hold it together’. It was amazing to get that insight and make sure we were handling this situation correctly.”
Directed by J. C. Chandor (Oscar nominee for 2014's A Most Violent Year), Triple Frontier stars Affleck, Isaac, Pascal, Hunnam and Hedlund as ex-Special Forces operatives who find themselves down on their luck after leaving the military.
The guys decide to reunite once more and utilise their special skill sets to rob a drug lord, but their actions set off a chain of unintended and devastating consequences that will test their loyalties to one another.
The story is based on a screenplay by former war journalist Mark Boal, who won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2008 for The Hurt Locker (which also won the Best Picture Oscar that year). He was also nominated for the same award for 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty, which is about the hunt for terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.
Band of brothers
After the press conference, StarLifestyle sat down with Affleck, Hunnam and Hedlund to find out just what makes this band of brothers tick.
According to Hedlund, one of the big themes of the film is the community and inter-reliance between the brotherhood. This means being responsible for each other’s lives and being able to lay down their lives for their brother at a moment’s notice. Fortunately, it wasn't hard for the five actors to form a bond.
“A lot of us had known each other for a long time prior to (starring in this film). Oscar and I had known each other for 10 years, Charlie and I have been best pals for 13 years. So, the camaraderie and brotherhood was easier than you’d think,” Hedlund explained.
So, what specific roles do each of the actors play within the group’s dynamic?
“Pedro’s the joker, the clown of the group. Oscar’s the strong silent type, Charlie was the dancer, and Garret was the playboy,” Affleck said.
Well, what about Affleck himself then?
“Ben’s like the elder statesman, or father figure,” Hunnam said with a laugh.
On paper, Affleck does stand out among the five actors. At 46, he is the oldest among them – Isaacs is 40, Hunnam, 38 and Hedlund, 34 – and it showed in the somewhat reserved and more measured way he answered questions during the press conference and interview.
According to Affleck, however, there was no difference in the way he treats his fellow actors and vice versa.
“I personally have always treated each film as a learning experience. The smartest thing I ever do is just to approach each job as an opportunity to learn from people who are really talented,” said Affleck, a two-time Oscar winner.
“This was really a treat for me – all these guys are really accomplished, interesting actors and men, and I was very enriched by the chance to be around them and share this experience with them.”
While Affleck claims he’d have to “get a bit more grey in my beard” before he starts thinking of himself as anyone’s mentor, Hunnam begged to differ.
“I really admire Ben as, obviously, an actor, but also a filmmaker, and I’m interested in pursuing that route later in my career,” Hunnam said. “So I actually did grill Ben as much as possible on how he navigated that transition. He was pretty generous with me, we had some pretty long conversations about what he had gleaned from the experience of being a director. He was more of a mentor than he is letting on!”
Speaking of film making, Netflix has been changing the landscape of movie-making of late; Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma garnered three Oscars recently and was even nominated for Best Picture, while Sandra Bullock’s Bird Box proved to be hugely successful as well.
Affleck, Hunnam and Hedlund have all participated in huge blockbuster films over the years, but with Triple Frontier being the first Netflix original film they are part of, we were curious to know if they had to change their approach towards acting for the film.
“As an actor, it would be very dangerous to make a decision to say because this a Netflix movie, so you’re doing THIS kind of acting. You’re doing your best work no matter what,” said Affleck.
“I suppose you could say that if you were directing it, you might compositionally look at things differently. But as viewing has migrated to streaming platforms, people are seeing it on home entertainment systems that are becoming bigger and more sophisticated."
Affleck added: “In the old days of television you would say you should do tighter close-ups and won’t frame big wide shots like that because you wouldn’t be able to see them on television. But now, whether you’re two feet from a 60-inch screen or 25 feet from an 18-foot screen, you’re still able to absorb a lot of detail. So the experiences are getting closer together.”
Hunnam, who starred in the 2013 blockbuster Pacific Rim, said: “One of the things that’s really exciting and enticing about working with Netflix is that it has a very broad viewership, so the potential for the film you make to be seen is much, much higher.
"The general volume of film and theatrical studio model has also been dramatically reduced over the last 10 years, and there’s been a specific type of film that have become almost impossible to make in that kind of system.
“It’s these types of original stories that require a large budget, and that’s something that’s really exciting about these streaming platforms, which have resurrected that sub-demographic of films.”
Triple Frontier is now streaming on Netflix.