TEARS OF THE SUN
About The Production
The task of training
the cast to effectively portray the Navy SEAL heroes in Tears of the Sun
fell to Navy veteran and military technical advisor Harry Humphries, who spent
sixteen years as a Navy SEAL. During his decorated career with the Navy, he
served as both a SEAL operator and a Provincial Reconnaissance Unit Advisor with
the Phoenix Program's Counter Terrorist Unit. As he had done in several other
military-themed movies over the past decade (Black Hawk Down, G.I. Jane),
Humphries put together a regimen to whip the film's eight male stars into
shape to accurately portray Navy SEALs and weather the grueling conditions in
which the film would be shot.
"We had an
excellent group led by Bruce Willis," Humphries reports. "We were
given two weeks to concentrate on the specific skills required for this
particular project. Whatever they were going to use in the film -- weapons,
tactics, combat techniques -- by the time they finished their two weeks
training, they knew how to do it inside-and-out."
On location in Hawaii,
the actors started off the day with two hours of boot camp and rigorous physical
training and then embarked on maneuvers to learn the specifics on how to
function as a team. Both on and off camera, the actors remained in character,
addressing each other by their character names.
"This kind of film
was something I'd wanted to do for a long time," Humphries adds. "To
show that SEALs are not just machines. They're human beings. I want the
audience to see what SEALs really are, how professional they really are. And how
human they are."
In addition to daily
exercises, Willis and his co-stars visited the Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH)
at Kaneohe Bay for weapons demonstrations and handling instructions. (One member
of the acting team, screen newcomer Charles Ingram was the real McCoy, a former
Force Recon Marine with more than four years of military service. The role of
Demetrius "Silk" Owens marks his dramatic acting debut after breaking
into the entertainment business as a stuntman on Black Hawk Down and The
brought a great deal of authenticity to the film," remarks producer Ian
Bryce. "He taught them all the military movements and the language. He also
coordinated our activities with the Department of Defense. Tears of the Sun
is the first movie about Navy SEALs to receive the full cooperation and
endorsement of the United States Navy and Department of Defense. It was crucial
to our story to have the military on board. From the very start they helped us
with the proper terminology and behavior. We were given access to such hardware
as Navy Sea Hawks, Army Black Hawks and F-18s. We also received permission to
film aboard an active nuclear aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Harry S.
Before settling on
Hawaii, veteran location manager Liz Matthews scoured the globe looking for the
perfect spot to represent equatorial Africa. She scouted sites as diverse as
Mozambique, South Carolina, Florida, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Australia and New
Zealand. When the decision was made to keep the production inside the U.S.,
Hawaii was chosen, according to production designer Naomi Shohan, "because
of the similarities in climate and elevation. The rain forest and the general
foliage in Hawaii are an excellent match for the African rain forest."
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