Jason Hall on Why ‘Thank You for Your Service’ was the Toughest Script He’s Ever Written
With the PTSD drama Thank You For Your Service now playing in theaters, last week I got to sit down with writer-director Jason Hall for an extended video interview. Based on journalist David Finkel’s 2013 nonfiction book of the same name, the film tells the story of a few soldiers returning home from Iraq who struggle to integrate back into family and civilian life. Miles Teller leads the cast that also includes Haley Bennet, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Joe Cole, Beulah Koale, Scott Haze, Brad Beyer, Omar Dorsey, and Jayson Warner Smith.
During the interview Hall talked about the development process of the film, how at one point Steven Spielberg thought about helming the picture, how the story changed during the writing process (at one point Daniel Day Lewis was thinking about playing the therapist in the film, when a draft of the script had him as the main character), what he learned from friends and family screenings, how director Taylor Hackford’s advice impacted the film, the casting process, what people would be surprised to learn about the process for treating our troops after they return from battle, and so much more.
Check out what Jason Hall had to say in the player above and below is a list of what we talked about followed by the official synopsis.
- How tough was it to get financing and greenlit?
- Talks about how Steven Spielberg was thinking about directing it at one point. Worked on it with him for two years.
- How much of the story changed during development?
- Talks about how the movie was originally going to be about the therapist in the film. At one time Daniel Day Lewis was thinking about playing the character.
- What was the biggest surprise making his first film?
- How long was his first cut compared to the finished film?
- Shares some advice he got about editing from director Taylor Hackford.
- What did he learn from friends and family screenings and test screenings?
- Talks about why he cut out any cool shots.
- Talks about the casting process and did he have any issues with the studio? Talks about why he wanted to cast some actors that people wouldn’t recognize.
What would surprise people to learn about the process for treating our troops after they return from battle?
- How long it takes to get treatment.
- How much did he expect from the actors when they went to boot camp?
Here’s the official synopsis for Thank You For Your Service:
DreamWorks Pictures’ Thank You for Your Service follows a group of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq who struggle to integrate back into family and civilian life, while living with the memory of a war that threatens to destroy them long after they’ve left the battlefield.