On a July day in 2007, Tausolo ‘Solo’ Aeiti survived an IED explosion. The soldier, alongside four others, was in a Humvee patrolling the Baghdad streets when the vehicle ran over a buried bomb, destroying the vehicle and killing one. Tausolo suffered a traumatic brain injury from the explosion – and when he returned home from service, also experienced severe PTSD (which is chronicled in both the book & now film Thank You for Your Service).
Portraying a real person suffering from PTSD with a traumatic brain injury would be a herculean task for even the most seasoned actor. Now imagine it’s your first role in a US feature film ever – which is exactly the case for newcomer Beulah Koale, a New Zealand-borne actor who cut his chops on the native soap Shortland Street.
In his US-debut Thank You For Your Service, Koale costars as Tausolo Aeiti - a soldier who returns home from war alongside Adam Schumann (Miles Teller) and Will Waller (Joe Cole) changed both physically and emotionally. It’s a tough role – one that veers from heartbreaking to terrifying in a single scene – yet Koale navigates these extremes like he’s already been starring in dozens of features for decades.
In the following interview with Beulah Koale, the actor discusses portraying someone suffering from a traumatic brain injury, struggling with the complexities of the role and how meeting & talking with the real-life Tausolo Aeiti helped him find the character/person. For the full interview, watch above.
- How long did Beulah Koale spend in boot camp training for the military scenes in the film?
- What drills did he have to do?
- How much time is there for sleep during the boot camp training?
- What was the most difficult drill he performed?
- How much research did Koale put into studying brain injuries for the role?
- What was the earliest conversation with Tausolo Aeiti like?
- How did Koale get Aeiti to open up to him about his experiences?
- What’s the balance between emulating Tausolo vs. creating his own character for Thank You for Your Service?