My boots are caked in mud. The ground is a watery brown mess that makes it difficult to walk. I have to watch where I take every step. All around me are American soldiers and Sherman tanks moving with purpose. When the tanks roll, I feel the muddy ground shake. As I peer around the side of the building on my right, I see even more soldiers and another tank moving towards our position. As they get closer, the soldiers are moving even faster, like they’re on a mission and it’s almost the end. As the tank rolls in front of me, I see Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf in uniform looking serious. A few seconds later, I hear director David Ayer call cut, and the three cameras shooting the action, the tanks, and the soldiers all go back to first position.
Let me go back a bit. Last year, when Fury was filming outside London, I got to visit the set with a few other reporters. As some of you know, the movie takes place at the end of World War II where a battle-hardened Sherman tank crew face overwhelming odds trying to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany. Besides Pitt and LaBeouf, Ayer and producer John Lesher have put together an awesome cast that also features Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, and Jason Isaacs. During the day on set I learned a lot about the movie and I’ve compiled a big list of some of the highlights. In addition, Sony has provided us with a few new images. So hit the jump to check it all out. Fury opens November 14th.
Before going any further, if you haven’t seen the Fury trailer, I’d watch that first.
Here are the new images from Fury:
About the Characters of Fury:
- Brad Pitt plays Wardaddy and is the tank commander.
- Shia LaBeouf plays Bible, who prior to joining the Army was in seminary school.
- Michael Pena plays Gordo. He’s a Mexican-American kid from Chicago.
- Jon Bernthal plays Coonass who’s from Arkansas. Lesher calls him ” a southern salt of the earth kind of guy.”
- Logan Lerman plays the new kid, Norman, and he’s the Assistant Gunner but was initially trained to be a typist. He’s from Pittsburg, has never been inside a tank before, and he doesn’t know anything about tanks when he arrives. During the movie, which is essentially through his eyes, we witness his coming-of-age as he experiences love and loss.
When the Movie Takes Place:
“These guys never saw a bed for three to four months; many of their comrades had died. A lot of these armored regiments had 300 percent replacement for their troops so it was a horrible part of the war. And the winters they’re sleeping out or in their tanks or under their tanks for three to four months and it got so bad that they actually, many of them never changed their closed, the Army just reissued clothes and replace them and it was that bad. You imagine as a young man just spending your youth doing in that sort of climate; it must of been horrible. And that’s what we’re trying to purvey is the mood of that time.”
What the Cast Did to Get Ready:
The actors did a week long boot camp that was 24 hours a day to get ready for their roles, and they were trained by real military personal. The boot camp was not easy as they trained with weapons and learned to fight. I heard from one of the actors it was one of the hardest things he’s ever done. Ayer described it thusly: “There was no ‘Hey, let’s give the actors a break’ stuff. It was fully full-on. It was incredibly intense psychologically and, at the end of the day, it wasn’t about, ‘Let’s all learn to be soldiers’. It was about making these guys bond as a family by putting them through one of the more intense experiences of their lives together.”
The production had four World War II soldiers meet with the actors behind closed doors with no press or production people. The soldiers told the actors what it was really like, and also answered any questions the actors had.
Things to Know About the Movie and Production:
- Fury had a 62 day shoot.
- Brad Pitt signed first and then Shia LaBeouf. Once those two signed on, the producers took the film to the studios on a Monday and by Tuesday night every studio wanted it but Disney. Ultimately the deal was made with Sony.
- Ayer says it’s a very unapologetic look at the war at the end. He’s not trying to make it romantic like a lot of war movies.
- Ayer wanted to make an authentic and real movie. He is using real Sherman tanks, real props, and trying to make sure everything feels real in the moment when filming.
- The movie takes place in one day from morning to dusk. It takes place about four weeks before the end of the war.
- Towards the end of the war the Germans stooped to new lows and everyone acted reprehensibly. The film will show what was going on in those final days.
- Many of the shots that Ayer went for were inspired by real photographs taken on the front lines.
- One third of the movie takes place inside the tank (Fury). To accomplish filming inside a tank, they recreated the inside on a soundstage and made it about 10% larger for filming reasons. No one will notice since it still looks incredibly small.
- Ayer has been thinking about making Fury and working on the screenplay for many years. It’s been a dream/passion project since he came up with the idea. His friends that have worked with him say it’s his best screenplay.
- Ayer pitched Fury to producer John Lesher before they made End of Watch. He pitched him by saying ” “My dream is to tell a movie that no one’s ever seen before, a world War II tank movie that no one’s ever seen before as authentically and realistically as the men. No one’s ever done that I don’t think, and I’d love for you to help me do that.”
- A huge German World War 2 collector lent the production tanks and uniforms. The collection being used is valued at 7 million pounds (over 12 million dollars).
- Bruce Crompton, who owns the biggest private collection of military vehicles in the UK (possibly the world), lent the movie all his vehicles which was valued at 7 million pounds. The production just had to pay for shipping and maintenance. Crompton was excited to be a part of the project.
- Fury is using a REAL Tiger Tank in the movie. The Tiger Tank was extremely rare even back in WWII since they only made 1,400 and nowadays there are only 7 Tiger tanks left in the world. As Lesher said it’s the “great white shark of German tanks.” The production went to the Boddington Tank Museum which has a running Tiger Tank and got them to agree for the first time ever to let the production use it for five days.
- Due to how special and rare the Tiger tank is, they had to be very careful and only got to do a right turn then a left turn. They had to build a special cement road because it weighs about 80 tons. They recreated a fake Tiger Tank for moments when it needs to fire it’s gun.
- The production bought a mint condition never used German military coat and they recreated it perfectly to create hundreds of costumes. They also created senior military costumes. Germany used 30 different camouflage patterns during the war and the production tried to recreate them. One of the camouflage patterns is called Lieber and it was the last one create during the last month of the war. What’s amazing about this pattern is it could block infrared which the Germans invented during WW2. Since it was created at the very end of the war, the production have less than 1% of the German soldiers wearing it.
- All extras in the film are British military or former military.
- The production feels like they’re really going to war with the conditions on the ground. When I was on set, I stood in six inch mud that covered my boots, and everything I saw looked dirty and real. Looking at the frame on an on set monitor, I felt transported back in time, with no CGI.
- Real tanks from all over Europe are being used in the production. What might surprise you is the United States never brought back their tanks from World War II. A lot of them ultimately ended up in the hands of private collectors. The production ended up speaking with people that owned the original tanks and props and rented what they needed.
- Most of the costumes were fabricated using actual materials to try and make it as real as possible.
- Ayer often uses multiple cameras to capture a scene so he can switch back and forth between them. When I was on set and watching one of the scenes get filmed, each camera was shooting something different in the same scene so he’ll be able to switch angles seamlessly.
- The production is using five real tanks. One of them gets destroyed in the film so they ultimately have one as a backup for production. If two tanks break down on the same day they’re in trouble.
- Some of the tank names were Fury, Lucy Sue, Old Phyllis, Murder Inc., and Matador.
- The film had 350 extras during one scene.
- We learn about the world of Fury through the eyes of Logan Lerman’s character. He joins the group near the beginning of the film and it’s a personal journey from boy to man. The two biggest roles in the film are Brad Pitt and Lerman. Ayer said it was very important that the person who played Lerman’s role be the right age for the character.
- One of the production’s biggest challenges was the logistics of shooting a war movie with real tanks that weigh 40 tons. Moving a tank is very expensive and time consuming.
- Ayer is making Fury on film and using anamorphic lenses.
- Fury is not going to use shaky camera like End of Watch. He’s laying dolly tracks and using cranes and trying to create beautiful classic Hollywood shots. Lesher told us, “We have dolly tracks and Technocranes and hard mounts and beautiful cameras on sticks. We want to show you what it felt like to be on this tank going through Nazi Germany and what it feels like to be in the war, but at the same time have beautiful camerawork and stuff like that.”
- The main reason they shot near London was the assets were there (tanks, equipment, props) and the tax breaks, weather, and they needed to go somewhere that wasn’t really cold.
- Some of the weapons used on Fury were also used on Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers and The Pacific.
- During the one day the movie takes place, we will meet all sorts of people like the Hitler youth, SS Germans, concentration camp survivors, and wounded people. This is in addition to all the soldiers on both sides.
- Ayer was extremely impressed with Shia LaBeouf on set and used him as his “bullshit detector”. Ayer said, “I love the guy. I think he’s freaking fantastic. What he did was become, a little bit, my BS detector. I’d be like, ‘Go do this’ and he’d say, ‘No man, I’m not doing that.’ (laughs) ‘Why not?’ ‘Well, I don’t know. I don’t know if this is real or not.’ And I’d go, ‘Whoa. You’re right. Lemme rethink that.’ He came at things from such an emotionally deep and honest place that he actually became a great barometer for digging in and finding out a little bit more truth about these characters.”
For more from my Fury set visit:
- Director David Ayer Talks FURY, Telling a Different WWII Story, Cast Boot Camp, Reshoots, Using Shia LaBeouf as His “BS Detector”, and More
- Producer John Lesher Talks FURY, Putting Together the Cast, Shooting on Film, Crafting a WWII Movie That No One’s Seen Before, and More