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ZERO DARK THIRTY

Navy SEALs
As the hunt for bin Laden reaches its climactic moments, the focus switches from CIA operatives to another veiled group of warriors: Navy SEAL Team Six. They were tasked with carrying out the helicopter incursion into Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad compound. Renowned for their physical conditioning, and their ability to function under extreme pressure, Navy SEALs are a special breed of soldier -- thinking, creative, tough, trigger-pullers. To portray these men, Bigelow looked for actors who could capture their intense personalities and withstand the training for the film, which included a rigorous, intensive Special Forces style boot camp.

Taking on the role of SEAL team leader Patrick is another rising Australian actor, Joel Edgerton. "Kathryn and Mark were obsessed with every detail," says Edgerton. "We were under the scrutiny of an actual retired Navy SEAL on the set, constantly asking 'how do they enter a room?' 'how do they carry their arms?' It never stopped."

Adds Bigelow: "Joel has a very quiet, intense presence and you immediately feel his authority and strength. He made Patrick an accessible character, which was so important to the climax of the film. He has a natural leadership quality that makes him very believable as a leader of men."

She felt similarly about Chris Pratt, who came to the fore in the multiple Oscar-nominated film MONEYBALL and plays Justin, Patrick's comrade on the raid. "There is such an affable strength to him and that was what excited me." But Pratt brought an even more impressive quality to the role -- he had a family background in the military. Bigelow adds, "He seemed to really understand how these guys survive the soul-crushing nature of their work through humor."

Pratt's character, Justin, represents the skeptical response many had when they were first briefed on the circumstantial nature of the evidence that bin Laden would be the hidden quarry in the Abbottabad compound. "I think it's easy to understand his skepticism," says Pratt. "After all, this is not the first time these guys have been sent to 'kill bin Laden.' And a guy like Justin has lost friends on those missions, and he understands as well as anyone the potential costs of being wrong."

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