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About The Characters
At the center of Valkyrie is Claus von Stauffenberg, the charismatic aristocrat who would ultimately risk everything to carry a bomb into Hitler's private conference room. But just who was Stauffenberg? After spending months intensively researching his life, screenwriters McQuarrie and Alexander agree he will always remain a somewhat mysterious figure, having been cut down in his prime at the age of 36. 

"It's impossible to fully know Stauffenberg – he's been left an enigmatic character in history,” says McQuarrie. "Over the years many people have laid claim to Stauffenberg as a poster child or scapegoat for various things, but I think in the end all we can do is look at him for his actions, for the risks he took and what he attempted to do.” 

Descended from 700 years of German nobility, Stauffenberg grew up in Bavaria as part of an elite family. Artistically inclined, he loved architecture, music, and poetry, but in the 1920s became a military officer who would soon be noted both for his irascible streak of individualism and his unquestionable heroics. He was said to have been singled out by his superiors for possessing a genius for military organization and logistics, and he rapidly rose in the ranks.

At the beginning of 1943, while fighting in Africa with the Tenth Panzer Division, Stauffenberg sustained severe injuries, losing an eye, his right hand, and several fingers on his left hand. Despite these terrible wounds, he was named Chief of Staff in the General Army Office in the fall of 1943. By then, he had already joined the resistance. On July 1, 1944, Stauffenberg became Chief of the General Staff of the Reserve Army – a job that would take him into direct personal meetings with Hitler. He suddenly found himself in the perfect position to make an assassination attempt on the Führer.

The historian Annedore Leber wrote of Stauffenberg: "[He was] the prototype of those young higher officers who, though their own future careers were never in doubt, nevertheless had the will to take action. They acted from the officer's sense of responsibility to his troops, the citizen's sense of responsibility to his people. Even the Gestapo officials who took part in the investigation of the events of July 20 felt a trace of his spirit. They talked of Stauffenberg's yearning…”

This is also what struck McQuarrie and Alexander about Stauffenberg. Whatever riddles might remain about his life, there is little doubt he was a man of great devotion and ethics. "One of the main things I took away is that Stauffenberg was driven by a deep feeling of obligation to serve his fellow man,” says Alexander. "We can't know the exact moment he first had grave doubts about Hitler, but once he realized what was going on behind the scenes he clearly believed it was his duty as a German and a human being to take on the responsibility of removing Hitler.”

Stauffenberg is a real-life hero, but in the context of a movie he's also an incredible character to portray. It's a daunting role, but the filmmakers felt Tom Cruise was the perfect actor to take it on. "Stauffenberg was an intense, charismatic individual, so we needed an actor who could really portray that,” says director Singer. "I was really excited when Tom came on board. Very few actors are able to pull off those hero roles, but Tom completely does -- he's a highly skilled actor and has such a strong screen presence. Tom also had a passion for this project from the beginning and he believed, like I do, that it's a story that should be told. He was an important part of getting the movie made, and he and his performance will be a really important part of bringing the story to the world.”

Before taking on the part Cruise hadn't known that much about Stauffenberg, but to prepare he learned as much about Stauffenberg as he could, and his research and attention to detail q

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