About The Production
We often hear phrases like "a film by" with a director's name attached. But
anyone who has ever been on a movie set or around movie production knows full
well that there is never one man who does everything. Sometimes the most
exciting scenes in a movie - especially an action-packed film - comes from the
significantly more physically challenging work of the second unit, often
undertaken using stunt doubles and a technician who specialize in what this unit
delivers. And the work of that unit is created, choreographed and shot by a
second unit director. In the case of Red Dawn, premiere second unit director and
stunt coordinator, Dan Bradley, was chosen to helm the re-boot of the 1984
classic cult film. That should tell you a little bit about the direction the
film is taking. He's a director that's always trying to improve himself and give
the audiences something fresh that they've never seen before. His credits
include: "Quantum of Solace," "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal
Skull," "Lions for Lambs," "The Bourne Ultimatum" and "Spider-Man 3" to name but
a few of his recent hits, and these are what made him the perfect choice to
direct the 2012 version of Red Dawn. When you go out to invent a franchise you
look for ways to make it better than the source material. But today there are
many more tools available to filmmakers, which means taking the action to a
whole different place - and that's where Dan Bradley slid right in.
Additionally, from a design point of view, the set pieces and some of the
practical locations are massive, exciting and emotional all at once, driving the
"I have to admit, I'm a big fan of John Milius'. The first movie that I ever
wanted to own was Milius' "The Wind and the Lion." And for me, the original Red
Dawn has always been a compelling guilty pleasure," says director Dan Bradley,
adding, "Not to sound grandiose, but in many ways, and for many of us, it feels
that the things we hold most dear as Americans, just don't seem as secure as
they once were. Frankly, an invasion is a fantasy but it is an apt metaphor for
how many people feel about the world today."
"I have to say," says Bradley, "that I was blessed with an incredible cast and
crew. I am a first time director, but I've been a filmmaker for quite a while
and my shooting crew was literally the best in the world. What they put on the
screen in such a short time is proof of that."
"Chris Hemsworth is just plain watchable. A man's man, he is a star with great
physical strength that only matches his heart;
"Josh Peck is tremendously talented and funny. He creates a character that is
the heart of our story;
"Adrianne Palicki is brilliant, and I was very fortunate to have her as a
"Isabel Lucas is our Helen of Troy. Josh Peck's character goes to war for her.
She wears her heart just behind her amazing eyes;
"Josh Hutcherson, well, I loved working with Hutch. He's a great talent and
quite the athlete. ;
"Connor Cruise created a character with his role that embodies the authentic
innocence that is at the heart of our story;
"Alyssa Diaz is quite wonderful and heartbreaking in her role; Edwin Hodge and
Julian Alcaraz bring awesome depth and heart to their roles as Wolverines."
Producer Beau Flynn looked forward to seeing how the invasion scene would turn
out. "We really wanted to press the action. Dan added this piece to the opening
invasion sequence where there's an air fight between two planes: one of them
gets shot down and the wing falls off the plane and crashes into the house next
door to the Eckerts; cutting the house in half, causing Jed and Matt, our two
leads to jump in their truck and take off. In the original film there were
probably 30 paratroopers landing; and in our film they and the enemy planes are
so numerous that they blacken out the sky. So Jed and Matt try to drive out of
town, gathering their friends along the way. That chase scene is absolutely
magnificent. And it's a huge set piece. And what ensues...well you'll just have to
see it to believe it. But we do pay homage to the original in that we respect it
and there are some real iconic
moments. What we did was take the characters and stretch them in order to give
the film more heart and emotion, and let the audience establish who these guys
are and who they become."
The decision to re-boot Red Dawn at this time had a lot to do with a multitude
of political situations in the world today. According to producer Beau Flynn,
"In the eighties, we all had that Cold War fear and the tension built-up between
Russia and the United States. But right now, it can feel like we're living in an
erratic world and with the fear that anything can happen. People now think they
need to be prepared and ready for something. And that's what I think Red Dawn
taps into; the idea of fighting for what you believe in and fighting for your
home. What would you do if your hometown or your country was invaded: Do you
fight or do you flee? And that to me is really what this film is about."
In order to sustain reality, the filmmakers wanted the cast to be fully prepared
for the physical challenges they were facing going into the film, and that
included the technical skills needed to handle weapons: including AK-47's,
rockets, and grenade launchers.
According to producer Beau Flynn, "We tracked down this guy named John Barton.
He's this big, tough, super-cool ex-marine who even served in Iraq for a while,
and now serves as a consultant. He put together a great program for us, and it
was a terrific bonding experience for the Wolverines. We put all nine Wolverines
through this boot-camp for a week and got them in shape. He had them eating
authentic military rations, putting together weapons from scratch and cleaning
their own weapons. He also put them in 'Kill Town' where they were fighting
against five or six real marines with pellet guns. These guys got hit by pellets
and have the bruises to show it and that was more than enough for them to know
they were only getting a fraction of what it means to be a real Marine. It made
them really respect it and appreciate it. And at the same time, they took it on
as if they were a real fighting force, as if they were guerillas. You'll see
that reality in the movie: teenager Connor Cruise and Josh Hutcherson holding
sawed-off shot guns and weapons in a real way. I think that
audiences will buy that these kids are really successful in fending off the
enemy and getting under their skin...which is the whole point of the insurgency."
Flynn was thrilled at the opportunity to speak about Chris Hemsworth, who plays
the character that fought fictionally in Iraq. "He had been training with John
Barton and his Marines for three months before hand - aside from the physical
training just in terms of getting a handle on the lingo and understanding the
philosophy of the Marines. He truly committed to the role. And then a brilliant
decision was made: Chris was going to run boot camp as a Marine which mirrors
the story in the film. He leads the Wolverines, so he trained these kids and
turned them into marines. Chris was dressed in full military uniform and he and
John Barton ran the camp while the cast fell right into line, giving him respect
as their leader. I told Chris at one point, 'you know, you're the spiritual
leader of this film. Please lead by example. Your behavior is key. All these
kids look up to you, because that's how we've set it up. And you've got to kind
of take them home - be strong and just take us all the way through the film.'
And he did just that!"
Producer Tripp Vinson was a big fan of the original movie, which had a big
impact on him. "When the opportunity came up to re-boot the film, I was excited
and a little scared. There's a huge fan-base for the original Red Dawn so we had
to be very smart about the way we approached our film. We knew that the
expectations were going to be very high, and we wanted to do the original
justice and keep our film at that level. And that was a bit of a challenge. We
ended up having to give it a lot of thought on how to approach this film, how to
up-date it for today's world. We spent a lot of time looking at the original and
seeing what worked and what didn't work and trying to determine what would work
better. So we addressed all of those issues while we were in script
The filmmakers needed to separate 2012's version of the film from the 1984
original "Red Dawn". According to Vinson, "2012 is a completely different world
than it was in 1984. So the fundamental geo-political world had to be recognized
in our movie. And we accomplished that. Also, the scale of this movie is
significantly bigger than what they did in the original movie. Ours had a lot
more urban kind of action feel to it. The original was kind of rural. And I
would argue that we spent a little bit more time with character development than
they did in the original movie."
Vinson continues "Another big influence is the way in which we approached the
story. The movie is a fantasy - you know in 1984 Russia and Cuba did not invade
the United States; and you know that presently North Korea, and Russia to a
lesser degree, have not invaded the United States. Once you accept the premise,
you accept the fantasy element of it. But, that being said, the tricky piece
here was finding the balance between what's fantasy and how to make that feel as
real as possible," adds Vinson, noting "one of the things we tried to do with
our film, which is a great big action movie - with big set pieces, huge action
sequences and lots of spectacle - is emphasize character development; finding
human moments in the midst of all of the chaos. But it was a priority for us,
and I believe we achieved it.... which, by the way, makes the action in the movie
much more powerful and much more emotional if we're caring about the
Vinson concurs with Flynn on the choice of Dan Bradley to direct Red Dawn. "Beau
and I are big fans of Dan's work. He's famous for his ability to design
completely unique action sequences that never look like anything else he's ever
done before. He's responsible for redefining the way audiences look at movie
action. So it was exciting to be able to collaborate with him in the design of
the story, over the development of the script, and just to watch him work to
create these action sequences. He was the perfect choice to bring this story to
the screen. And, aside from all of that, he's got a great sense of story and of
character, and as we developed the script, you realize that he's also done a
great job of finding the humanity in the characters and the emotion in their
Vinson can't say enough about his cast, but as far as Chris Hemsworth is
concerned, he says, "Chris has a lot going for him. First of all, he's really
easy to look at, but ultimately the reason he was cast in this role is because
of his great depth. And aside from being physical and being able to act like an
action hero, he is fearless about showing his vulnerability. That's gold if you
can find that, because
that's what lets the audience in. Chris is fearless about expressing emotion but
at the same time he has immense control and doesn't break out of character."
Vinson offers that filming in Detroit was just ideal. "Shooting in Detroit and
the surrounding areas was really our first choice. We looked at many cities, and
Detroit remained our first choice. We had great access to the downtown area.
It's featured prominently in the movie. And the things we were able to do there,
we just wouldn't have been able to do anywhere else; shutting down dozens of
square city blocks; blowing up stuff; using tall buildings without any real
restrictions whatsoever. The city was very, very gracious to us, and it's going
to add a tremendous amount of scope and production value to the movie."
Executive producer Kevin Halloran met Dan Bradley in the early 80's when
Halloran was a location manager and Bradley was a stunt coordinator. "He's
always wanted to be a first unit director so that when they started talking to
me about the film and about Dan directing, I thought it was pretty great. And I
also knew it was going to be the hardest movie I ever made...but it's always good
to have a challenge." And Red Dawn was just that - a daily challenge. But that's
not necessarily a bad thing....it's just the way it was making this film. "We're
blowing stuff up every day - guns, tanks, the works. And we didn't have the same
money as a film like, for example, 'The Transformers' or a film of that
budgetary caliber, but we were doing stuff just as cool as a 'Bourne' movie
without their budget either, so that was tough, but it was definitely great fun
to pull off." The cast had wonderful things to say about their experience on Red
Dawn. Each of the cast knew this was something special, and this re-boot is
really an evolution from the original.
Chris Hemsworth, who plays Jed, the leader of the Wolverines, said "I'd heard
about the film and had seen the original version years ago, and could vaguely
remember it and sort of liking the idea it...but then I read this script and just
loved it. You know, Jed was a great character. There were a bunch of different
levels and things going on, and for me it was a story about brothers and friends
and family. And I've got two brothers, so having that in my life, it was
definitely something I could draw
from for the film. And I think finding the truths of the journey of my
character, and in relationship to the other characters in the movie, was
definitely interesting to work with."
Hemsworth, like the rest of the cast, found boot camp invaluable. "Watching what
happened at boot camp when everyone came together was fantastic because we were
supposed to have been friends for a long time, so the time we spent together in
boot camp was helpful in propelling that intimacy. More important than anything
were the individual relationships that developed out of it, and almost the
weapon training was secondary - nevertheless critical. What a dividend!" But
Hemsworth's character is complex: His relationship with his brother Matt, played
by Josh Peck, has its highs and lows, which is normal for any loving, brotherly
relationship. But more than that, he's described in the script "twenty-three
years old and world-weary." Hemsworth explains: "When my character left home to
go into the military he was a great football player and had a bunch of thing
going on for him. But, he threw them away for various reasons, including the
disillusion of his family structure. There's a lot of regret and lots of guilt
for having done that. And he carries all of that around with him. Plus, who
knows what he's seen overseas, as well as through his war experiences. And then
he returns home, goes to his brother's football game, and the next morning all
hell breaks loose and all of his training kicks in...and the rest is this
Hemsworth echoes the praise of the rest of the cast for director Dan Bradley.
"Dan's fantastic. I've probably never had this much freedom, or felt as
comfortable, as I have with him. He had so much trust in us as a cast and just
gave us the room to go for it! Whether we were just kind of ad-libbing or
discovering just what we generally wanted to do with a scene, he let us find a
real sense of truth in it. And that was a great gift."
With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Josh Peck, who plays Matt, Jed's younger
brother, said, "My interest in the Red Dawn re-boot was completely rooted in
Charlie Sheen. I've always wanted his approval, in a big way. I'm a big fan of
his work and I just wanted Charlie to be proud of me. And Charlie and I don't
know each other, like person to person. But emotionally, I would say we have
some kind of connection. If you want to label that, I would call it soul mates.
But Charlie and me...we've never met."
Back to reality, Peck said, "I had a great meeting with Dan Bradley after I had
read the script. It was at a time in my life when I had never done anything
remotely like this and it was an opportunity to really learn and push the
limits, and try something that I had never done before. And I feel real lucky
that Dan was able to see this character in me and trusted me to be the custodian
of this kid. And I feel fortunate to be a student of his and watch him work, and
feel safe in knowing that he was going to bring us on this incredible journey."
Peck made a profound observation about Dan Bradley. "It was sort of Dan's first
time at really giving direction, and working hand-in-hand developing characters
and a script. And in a sense he had no ego, which is sort of the greatest
quality for a director to have. He's very aware of his strengths, and in areas
where he was perhaps somewhat lacking in experience, he was always very
collaborative. And I feel like we were all working together toward this
wonderful final product."
Peck also offered that he never saw the original. "And I figured it was just
this sort of serendipitous thing that I hadn't seen it and thought I'd better
wait. I plan to watch it the day we're done shooting...I mean, I've to go make
Of his character, Peck notes that, "...Matt Eckert is like the antithesis of me.
So I had nothing to draw from. I had to come into this like a blank canvas. It
was like a Jackson Pollack painting for me... throwing paint on a canvas, hoping
to God it turns into something special. But, in the end, I think it really
worked, and it was a thrilling experience."
Adrianne Palicki, who plays Toni, Jed's love interest, was drawn to Red Dawn for
a couple of reasons. "First of all, the script is pretty great. And the chance
to do an action film, which I've never done before, was a great impetus for me
to hop on the train. And Toni - my character - is a badass. I mean, she's a
really strong female. And so I was really drawn to my character."
It's a little unusual to have a full-throttle action-packed movie and still find
heart and the arc for every main character. Palicki says, "The emotion is all
there. You really feel for these characters, and some of them don't make it, and
you really feel for them. And at the heart of the story is a great premise. It's
World War III that's taking place in America, and this group of kids come
together and start taking over. They become these vigilantes that go after the
bad guys and become this amazing force. You know, it's just eight of us that are
out there causing havoc and trying to help people. So it's really cool, and a
"Toni is actually like the female Jed, so they immediately bond because she is a
natural leader. So as well as being a female version of him, she immediately
becomes his right hand man, in a way. Through all of this is an underlying
romantic interest which almost takes a back seat to the immediate needs they're
all faced with. There's a growth that happens between the two of them and a
real, true, adult love develops. That kind of powerful growth is really nice
because it's layered by the very nature of what they are going through and
emerge out of together."
Josh Hutcherson, who plays Robert, one of the Wolverines, was thrilled to be a
part of this film. "For me, re-booting such a classic like Red Dawn was
definitely a great thing to be a part of. When it was originally made I was
actually told that it went into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most
acts of violence in film, which got it a PG-13 rating. So I immediately knew it
was going to be a great action movie. And I was definitely excited to be a part
Hutcherson hadn't seen the original but when he found out they were re-booting
it his Mom talked about how much she loved it when she was in high school. "At
that time, it felt so real. They had to do bomb drills and things like that.
After she told me that, I had to watch it. I think this version of Red Dawn
keeps the heart of the original, the essence has been retained while the
storyline and technology through filmmaking has been modernized." "Robert, my
character, starts of kind off nerdy but he has a cool arc. When he makes his
first kill he gets sick from it, but then when he finds out
about his parent's fate, a turn happens and he becomes this total warrior type.
In the end he's running across a rooftop with a sawed off machine gun mowing
down the enemy. It's really cool."
Connor Cruise plays Daryl. He stepped right up to the plate and instantly became
part of this incredible ensemble of young talent. He found boot camp invaluable.
"That really helped because we bonded and I got to know everybody." What's
Connor's character like? It would appear that he grows up very quickly out of
necessity. "Daryl is the youngest one of the Wolverines and he's definitely
having an interesting and complex relationship with his dad during this time.
He's torn between his dad and the group because he doesn't know which one to
follow and he really has to make a decision. At the end of the film, he does
decide...and it's intense for him."
Cruise loved working with director Dan Bradley. "He had a gift of keeping up
morale when we were feeling a bit low because we were extremely tired from the
intensity of the shoot. He's a great guy and was easy for me to talk to and get
direction. He was always willing to listen to what I had to say, so we were able
to mold my character. He's great with that. He's also great at setting up stunts
and shooting them."
Cruise also made a very wise observation about the difference between fighting
for your home or something more remote. "It's a whole different look at your
character because you have something to fight for. You're not going into another
country. I've seen some documentaries on Iraq and some of the soldiers are
asking, 'What are we doing here? We don't understand it. What's the point of
this?' But in this film, they're in our home now. It makes sense that we're here
to defend our country and get our homes back."
Isabel Lucas, who plays Erica, was one of the cast members who did see the
original Red Dawn once she got cast in the role of Erica. "One of the things
that would separate the two films is that each of their respective scripts were
written to be quite true to the politics of their times. . I also think the
script of the re-boot really allowed more space and opportunity for an audience
to get to know the actual characters better and thereby have a different
experience with this film.
Lucas has nothing but high praise for the cast and crew,and especially director
Dan Bradley. "Seeing Dan find a way to orchestrate everything the way he does,
and being able to communicate exactly what he expects to accomplish in a given
scene is a breath of fresh air. He has a lot of lives in his hands with stunts
and explosives there's a lot of risk and danger,but he is determined to keep it
safe for all involved. I was aware of the risks involved and felt really safe in
Additionally, Lucas found Dan easy to talk to about her character. "We don't see
a lot of my character, but she has a special importance as the love interest of
Matt, and he wanted to help me approach those moments we had together on screen
in a definite way, and it all worked."
Edwin Hodge who plays Danny agrees with the rest of the young cast about the
destiny of Red Dawn. "I hope that when people see this film they just enjoy it.
I want this to be a cult classic like the original was for an earlier
generation. So I want them to take the journey, enjoy the ride, and remember us.
And I think that with our re-boot we've developed the characters a bit more,
which you really didn't get from the original. For this film, everything is just
more intense, and it promises to be a great entertainment."
Hodge has nothing but the highest of praise for the cast, and especially for
Chris Hemsworth. "I don't think I've ever met such an attractive guy like Chris
who is such a goofball. His personality is absolutely amazing and he's a
sweetheart. Everybody in the cast was the same way. That's the greatest thing
about having a cast like this because if you don't work well off screen it's
definitely going to translate onscreen."
Hodge adds, "It was exciting to watch these kids grow together and with one
another - with no time to spare. We all join forces as the Wolverines, "we fight
as one, we are one: And let's go take back our village; let's go take back our
country!" And that's probably one of the greatest messages ever. That you can
come together and you can fight over the evil that we know if we just stick
together and stay positive."
To Alyssa Diaz, Red Dawn represents her first big action film. "I was looking
forward to doing all the training, all the explosions and gunfire and all the
action. It was very exciting."
For Diaz, who plays Julie, Red Dawn is very different from the original. "There
are new characters. My character didn't exist in the original. And I feel like
you get to know the character in our film, so it makes things interesting. And
of course the effects are going to be very different just because of advanced
technologies. The original was definitely action-packed, but this is definitely
the 2012 version, and it's going to blow audiences away." Diaz adds, "It's just
really amazing to have a 50 foot or 30 foot explosion behind you, and you're
running away from it, and it's like a mushroom cloud. And you realize I was just
next to that car that was exploding...like ten feet away from it. It's surreal.
Sometime when I'm on set I'm like, 'Wow. This is my job!"
Diaz, like so many others involved in the film, acknowledges that, "the film is
action packed, but also very emotional. It's dealing with real issues with kids,
family, our nation...so not only does it have the action, but it also has the
emotional tie as well."
Julian Alcaraz, who plays Greg, says "I got really excited when I got the call
from my agent that I got the role because when I went to the audition I had no
idea what Red Dawn was about, but as soon as I read the script I made a
connection immediately. I have an athletic background and I love that physical
action. That really attracted me to the film."
Alcaraz feels that audiences are in for a special treat. "There are so many
explosions and so much action, but along with that, there's also so much
feeling. Even when I saw the 'playbacks' it almost brought me to tears. I feel
like the film has everything action, lots of terrific acting, lots of
emotion...and it works on all of those visceral levels. It's a very appropriate
film for 2012 when you think about everything that's going on in the world."
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