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About The Characters
Matthew McConaughey enthuses when describing Dirk Pitt, a character equal parts adventurer, sophisticated Don Juan, and man with a plan. "Sometimes he's a scientist, sometimes he's an inventor, sometimes he's an adventurer,” he says. "He's a guy who's got plans, but those plans are always changing; he's ready for the unexpected. He's a great adapter. He's been a Navy SEAL, but he's also part pirate. He's definitely a lover before a fighter, but if he's got to fight, he handles his own.

McConaughey believes that this mix of characteristics make up the perfect action hero for our times. "Even though Dirk comes from a privileged background — he's the son of a senator — he's got his own idea about how to spend his life, which is to chase his treasures,” he says. "He chases the unknown — he says we can know the unknown. You can call him a dreamer, and I guess he is, but he's also got the history, the training, and the scientific facts to back it up.” In the film, that means tracking down a Civil War Ironclad battleship in the middle of the African desert.

"The fun of Dirk Pitt is that while he always has a plan, he also plans on the plan never going as he planned it,” McConaughey laughs. "Dirk Pitt is the luckiest man alive.”

"Dirk's an action hero, but in a way that we haven't seen in a lot of movies,” says Breck Eisner. "Dirk's a regular guy. He's highly trained, of course, but when he gets into a scrape, he loves to wing it. He's always thinking eight steps ahead and sometimes can forget about what's happening at the moment. He's been on every kind of adventure you can imagine, and that ability to wing it is what gets him through it.”

Dirk's best buddy is Al Giordino, the smart-mouthed grease monkey who's always by his side. Lifelong friends, the characters have a way of expressing themselves that only comes from having known each other for so long.

"In my opinion, Al's the voice of reason,” says McConaughey. "Dirk comes up with some highly implausible plans and Al's the one who calls him on it, but Al also knows when he can count on Dirk's hunches to come through. That relationship is a big part of what makes the story work.”

"Al's much more of a cynic than Dirk is,” says Steve Zahn, who plays Al. "Dirk gets his theories and Al's not sure he believes everything that Dirk believes. But when Dirk's trying to piece it all together, Al's right there behind him. In the end, I think Al respects and trusts him, and vice versa.”

Zahn was cast, McConaughey says, when the filmmakers realized that his take on this character was completely in tune with their own. "It was clear early on that he knew that the character wasn't about making wisecracks and corny jokes,” says McConaughey. "Al is a funny guy who reacts to the situations that Dirk puts him in. It's entirely character-based.”

In fact, once Zahn was in the role, the filmmakers all agreed: nobody else could have been Al. "Al's a complex character, because he brings a comedic, dry, wry sense of humor to the film, but he's also a very serious person when he's put in life-and-death situations. It was very important that he didn't come across as a goofball,” says Eisner.

McConaughey agrees. "Al and Dirk are always messin' with each other about something or other,” he says, "but they have each other's back the whole way. There's constant ribbing, but when it's time to get serious, they're professionals. They can handle everything they need<

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