Trainers and Technical Advisers
To help the cast prepare for their roles, Berg worked with multiple consultants
who organized the performers and got them in fighting physical and mental shape.
Standout partners on the production include the teams who helped Rihanna, Decker
and Gadson get ready for their intense scenes battling the aliens.
Gunner's mate Jacque Carrizosa was at the ready to get Rihanna into fighting
shape on the set of Battleship. Channeling such tough-as-nails warriors as
Terminator 2: Judgment Day's Sarah Connor and Aliens' Private Vasquez, Rihanna
impressed everyone on set with her dedication to the part and discipline in
preparing for the role.
"A lot of the training on set had to do with how to hold the weapon the correct
way," Rihanna notes. "I had to learn about these weapons and I enjoyed that
because I didn't want to look like an actor with a gun, just shooting off into
nowhere. It was also important to Pete to make sure that everything would be
like it would be if we were actually in the Navy. Jacque had a lot to do with my
look and feel in the film."
During production, Carrizosa held the rank of E5, which is petty officer second
class. "I deal with everything from basic 9-mil handguns and 50-caliber weapons
to torpedoes, magazine sprinkler systems, missiles, VLS systems and such,"
states the sailor. "We also deal with the 5-inch guns that you see on a
battleship like USS Missouri."
She explains how she got the actress ready for battle: "I helped Rihanna feel
comfortable with military protocol and weapons handling. She shot a little
before I came on board, so she wasn't scared. I helped her with posture,
standing at attention and saluting. Along with her talent and beauty, she's
really smart and a natural bad-ass." Duty called, and the Gunner's Mate's time
on set was up. She was back on her ship in San Diego after a three-week hiatus
with the production in Hawaii.
Gadson and Decker had assistance of a different sort as they battled aliens on
Oahu's windward (eastern) side. Things got off to a shaky start as equilibrium
came into play when Berg first took Gadson and Decker (and co-star Linklater,
also crucial to the landlocked sequences) out to Kualoa Ranch, where the company
spent three weeks filming the scenes in which the aliens construct their
Decker appreciated the bonding that her director encouraged. "Greg and I became
close very fast because we had to be incredibly vulnerable. We rehearsed and
shot in the mountains where it rains all the time. It's muddy, it's hilly and
there were a couple of times when Greg's prosthetic legs would slide on this mud
and he would go down. Because he would fall in front of me, or when I would be a
nervous wreck in front of him, we quickly became trusting of one another. He
told me: 'If we're going downhill, I'm going to need to push on you. I need you
to be strong when I'm walking downhill; you need to support me.'
"There's a scene when Sam freaks out after she finds bodies and cars ripped
apart and sees one of the aliens for the first time," the actress continues.
"Mick is her source of strength. That day we shot this scene, it was just Greg
and me. We didn't talk to anybody on set; we just rehearsed. I told him to get
physical with me, push me to the ground, grab me and shake me. We beat each
other up, but also took care of each other."
Berg recalls that first day of rehearsal before filming officially began:
"Greg's never acted before, and he's a double amputee. This was completely out
of his comfort zone and certainly something he's not familiar with. Yet, he came
out and jumped right into it, and it was intense, especially when he slipped and
fell. We picked him up, he took a few more steps and immediately fell again,
hard. I thought he had damaged his legs; they looked banged up. He got real
quiet, and I thought to myself, 'This is going to be an absolute disaster.'"
Berg couldn't have been happier to be more wrong.
"It's what happens when you don't have your legs...you fall," the director
remembers Gadson telling him. "I wanted to take him up to the top of the
mountain to see what we could expect: How much stamina he had and whether he
could stand and move on this type of terrain. Brooklyn got right in there with
Greg and helped him walk around. Then we were able to start seeing whether he
While these titanium legs, which Gadson calls "Real Ones," support his body, the
soldier still struggles with balance and navigates in a wheelchair when not
wearing his prosthetics. He relays that standing and walking (with the aid of a
cane) is like being on the top rung of a stepladder. "It's shaky on
prosthetics," he explains of the challenges. "You have to balance, to keep
yourself stable so that you don't lose support on the ladder. That's the best
way to describe being a bilateral AK, or amputee above the knee."
Stunt coordinator KEVIN SCOTT recalls the first time he saw a picture of Gadson
after Berg cast him as Mick. "I saw he was a bilateral amputee. But he is not
just a guy with two aluminum legs. He is a true warrior, a fantastic person and
a great leader. The fight scene that we did with Greg will be an extremely
moving moment in this film. I wanted to make sure that we paid respect to
individuals who have lost their limbs. We didn't want to do anything that was
out of character."
Scott continues: "DAMON CARO, who's one of the industry's best fight
choreographers, came out to help us, and we put together a fight that Greg was
comfortable with. There were a couple moves in the fight that came from just
talking to Greg. He can twist his legs in ways that we can't. It was interesting
to see his response to the fight, and he admitted he'd not been this physical
since losing his legs. There were some extremely moving moments with him, and he
came through as a warrior every time. The audience will not have seen this type
of physical activity before."
To ensure that every aspect of the U.S. Navy was portrayed as accurately as
possible, Captain RICK HOFFMAN was brought on board as Berg's Navy technical
advisor. From dialogue and sets to specifics of uniforms and haircuts, the
veteran who commanded two warships during his 28-year career left no stone
Hoffman-whom we will also see portraying Battleship's Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff-recounts: "When I was first interviewed for the position, Peter
told me that in a movie this fantastic, the real part has to be very real. He
wanted to use active duty sailors-preferably serving aboard ship now-in as many
scenes as possible, and we wanted to make sure the actors came across in a
compelling and convincing manner."
Prior to each of the main shipboard scenes, the film's actors and extras would
go through what came to be known as "Cap'n Rick's Boot Camp." While this did not
involve push-ups or yelling, the training was a full day on the set that helped
the sailors grow accustomed to what they would see during the filming, as well
as help the actors to understand how to look and act like sailors. It was also
an important time for the cast and military extras to get to know one another as
they rehearsed their scenes.
The career sailor's influence extended to close work with the crew. Hoffman
adds: "I also had the chance to work with the extremely talented set design,
props and set decoration teams in putting little touches on the set-moving a
radio so it worked better with an actor's movements, adding charts, binoculars
or other small details to create a realistic environment. I used the sailors'
help whenever I could to add realism. They know what 'real' looks like better
than I do."
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