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MR. AND MRS. SMITH

Spy School
To bring the necessary verisimilitude to their portrayals of top assassins proficient in a multitude of firearms and deadly martial arts, Pitt and Jolie attended what the filmmakers describe as "spy school." The two actors attended weekly gun-training sessions with Stunt Coordinators Mic Rodgers and Tim Trella, and Technical Advisor Mark Stefanich. A former member of S.E.A.L. Team Two as well as S.E.A.L. Team Six (also known as the Dev Group), Stefanich facilitated the actors' training in special operations and counter-terrorism tactics.

"Brad and I have separately appeared in action films," explains Jolie, "but that's a specific method of training. I've never had a partner on film before and it's very different working with one. We had to learn to move in tandem with fully loaded pump shotguns, crossing each other, running into houses, breaking and covering an area, shooting at moving targets – it was crazy, but we learned to trust each other."

"We started them off with the basics, including weapons familiarization, proper stance, how to hold the weapon, safety and use," Stefanich explains. "We progressed to moving through and shooting at multiple targets."

Rather than training Pitt and Jolie as CIA operatives, Stefanich familiarized them with the training one gets in law enforcement or regular military groups, because time was of the essence. Training exercises took place over several weekends during production at Canyon Oaks, a private shooting range in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley.

By their very nature, covert operations are fluid and ever-changing, so the actors were taught to rely on their wits during much of the action. An operative must be ready to adapt to any circumstance, and change his or her tactics in the blink of an eye.

Pitt and Jolie were outfitted with the newest high tech weapons, including cutting-edge, non-lethal Taser and stun guns. The actors completed weapons indoctrination on a wide range of artillery, from the MP5 submachine gun to sophisticated pistols with aim points, optics and high capacity magazines. Prior to working with Stefanich, Pitt and Jolie selected their own weapons with one of the film's Property Masters, Gary Tuers.

According to Stefanich, the actors were strict about not wanting to turn the action into fantasy. "They learned on the firing range how difficult it really is to become proficient with a firearm; how you can't shoot from the hip and hit targets unless you happen to be a world champion shooter."

Second Unit Director / Stunt Coordinator Simon Crane agrees. "The actors needed to learn a variety of the skills, such as weapons, firing rockets, driving cord bikes, and rock climbing. And to make it all look real, Brad and Angie constantly had to absorb new skills, and look like they'd been doing the tasks for years. There were lots of rehearsals.

"An audience wants to see the actors do their own stunts," Crane continues. "They don't want to see CG. People want to go to movies to be entertained by their favorite actors. I'd rather spend time rehearsing, testing, making it safe for the actors and then putting them in situations that look precarious."

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