From director Rod Lurie and based on the book by CNN anchor Jake Tapper, the military thriller The Outpost tells the story of a small unit of U.S. soldiers who defended a remote combat outpost against Taliban fighters in a coordinated attack. The Battle of Kamdesh was a 12-hour firefight that became the most brutal battle of the Afghan War in 2009, and while Bravo Troop 3-61 became one of the most decorated units of the conflict, they also lost eight service members.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor Scott Eastwood talked about playing real-life medal of honor recipient Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha, why he was hesitant to do another war movie, what convinced him to sign on, the challenge of shooting as many scenes as possible in one shot, why he didn’t get as much time as he would have liked to bond with his co-stars, being surrounded by real soldiers on set, and the struggle to get a variety of different types of movies made.
Collider: This is one of those movies that must have been so physical and exhausting, but really rewarding, at the same time.
SCOTT EASTWOOD: Yeah, that’s pretty much exactly what it was. Every time I work on a true story or a war movie that honors people that made the ultimate sacrifice, it always means a lot. The standard for excellence and everyone showing up and coming humble with no ego, just there to tell the best story and be a part of the storytelling, always becomes very meaningful.
It seems like adding playing a real-life medal of honor recipient on top of that would add the most weight of anything that you’ve done. What does that feel like, knowing that there is a real person behind that and that you’re playing somebody who has received such a big honor like that?
EASTWOOD: It just adds to the pressure of wanting to tell the story in the best possible way and really nail it, and make sure that you don’t leave anything on the field. You wanna just give it your all. That’s where it sits with me, at least.
When you read this, what was it that most struck you about this story and made you want to be a part of telling it? There are a lot of war films and this film does feel very different, but was that something that you got from the script, itself? Was that on the page?
EASTWOOD: No, to be honest, it wasn’t. I was very hesitant to do another war movie, to be honest with you. I hadn’t had a leading role in a war movie, but when you’ve done a couple of these already and you’ve spent months making them, at least in your mind, you’ve done that genre, so it was hard to wrap my head around it. I give credit to Rod Lurie, our director, who talked me into doing it because I was hesitant about it. But once I believed in Rod and saw his passion, and also read and started to understand what happened there, I became more interested. And I’m glad I did because I could have easily slid into that, “Well, I’ve already done this genre of film.” But once I realized the stakes of the story, then I said, “Okay.”
In watching the film, it feels like a very different way to tell a story like this.
EASTWOOD: Yeah, I think Rod did an incredible job of making the film feel very kinetic and like you’re there with the soldiers. At times, that can feel really uneasy, it can feel like an emotional roller coaster, and it can make you feel a lot of different emotions. That was his intention, and I think that’s why it feels different.
Rod Lurie also decided to shoot as many scenes as possible in one shot. What was that like, as an actor?
EASTWOOD: Anytime you do that, it adds more pressure because there’s not a lot to edit. You don’t have a lot of shoe leather, as they say, to flub up and nail whatever lines you need to, or nail the performance you need to. You need to not only nail your performance, but you have to hit all of your marks and everybody’s forced to be very precise about what happens. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for error. And then you add on special effects, which in this case, there are a lot of, in almost every scene, and it makes it quite complicated. There was a lot of rehearsal.
This also seems like one of those projects where you’d really want to take the time to bond with your co-stars before working with them. Were you able to do that? Did you get time to figure out that dynamic between you guys?
EASTWOOD: I was really lucky because Rod put together an incredible cast of great guys. Everyone came there really humble and just ready to make the best movie, and honor these guys and honor the story. In that regard, I was super lucky because everyone was cool, and that doesn’t always happen. I didn’t have as much time as I would’ve liked, to get to know everybody before we started shooting. I was dealing with a broken ankle, the five and a half weeks leading up to shooting, so that made things a little tougher to get to know people, but I was very lucky.
That seems like a tough injury to deal with, and then go into a film that is so physical. Was there ever a point where you were like, “I’m not sure, if I’m going to be able to do this”?
EASTWOOD: Yeah, I had all of those thoughts, but you just make it happen.
There’s a tendency to make men like this seem like superheroes, but these are very real, everyday people who weren’t part of an elite fighting group, they just did something that seemed impossible to do. With everything that you learned about these men, in this battle, what would most surprise audiences about them?
EASTWOOD: You said it really live really eloquently there, and that’s what drew me to this story. These guys were not some elite fighting group. It wasn’t the Navy SEALs. It wasn’t the Rangers. It was everyday people being asked to do the extraordinary. They were put in a terrible situation, and the heroism that came out of that day was just remarkable. Two congressional medals of honor, and not only that, but 27 purple hearts. It was people being asked to do extraordinary things. I think people just need to understand that, and that’s what I think is most relatable about this story. You could see yourself being a young, 27-year-old kid, and what would you do in this situation?
What was it like to also be surrounded by real soldiers and to get to at least talk to the guy that you played? How does that change things?
EASTWOOD: It always makes it more real. It’s no longer just making a movie and playing pretend. It becomes really real because the stakes are so high. You’re talking about people who are still alive, and you’re talking about people who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and you’re trying to honor those people. It just makes it so visceral and real, when you’re talking to people that were there and you’re seeing, in their eyes, the emotion, when it comes up, as it did many times. There were emotional days for people. When you see that, you’re like, “Oh, my gosh.” Sometimes you forget that you’re making a movie, when you see them get emotional. It makes you really feel the gravity of what you’re doing.
You’ve done your fair share of action films, but they’ve all been different kinds of action films. A film like The Outpost is very different from a Guy Ritchie action movie, like you did with the upcoming Cash Track. Do you just feel comfortable in that world, or do you want to find more of a balance now, doing comedy, more romantic leads, and things like that?
EASTWOOD: I’d love to find more of a balance, and I feel like the material that I’m fighting to get made strikes more of that balance. It’s stuff that has different shades and colors. But it’s hard to get movies made. With the stuff that I’m fighting for, there’s comedies and there’s dramas, and it’s all in there. It’s tough, and it’s hard to get people to believe. If you’re producing a movie, it’s hard to get people to believe in the deal and put their money where their mouth is. Getting a movie made is hard.
The Outpost is available on-demand.