To hear Logan Lerman and his "Fury" co-stars tell it, working for director David Ayer is its own brand of harrowing. Prep for the WWII tank drama started with a few weeks of boxing — the cast (Lerman, Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal) sparring with each other, their director encouraging them to not hold back. But it's all for the movie, right?
When did you realize the training would involve actually boxing with your co-stars?
Right after I got the role, it was, "Now you're going to start fighting." And I was like, "All right, whatever." It was pretty casual at first, and then the guys came in and we really started fighting each other. And we really fought each other. It got intense in there. I thought we were going to go in and it was going to be, like, pretty casual, mostly a workout, a "get to know ya" thing. And it was a total battle of the egos. It was just who was top dog and, "Now we're going to fight each other and see who's the dominant male." That's kind of similar to what the movie was.
That sounds like a terrifying work environment.
It was tough. And I was the young guy, the inexperienced one in terms of … I guess fighting and things like that. So yeah, it was a pretty tough year. It was a tough year, man.
How are you feeling now?
I'm great! I great now, man. The movie's over!
Did you have any boxing experience going into that?
None! And I broke wrist earlier in the year, so I was weaker and it was just a really s---ty time to be fighting people. A really s---ty time. But I learned a lot from that. At the end of the day, in retrospect, I appreciated it. But I'm not fighting anymore. I stopped doing it right after. Once we were done, I was like, "F--- yes! This is over!"
So when you're looking at new projects now, are you tempted say that's out of the question right from the start?
Yeah, totally (laughs). No, I'd do it again. I actually enjoyed it because it broke barriers, boundaries between the actors. It's a level of comfort you work for months to build that you get within a couple of hours when you fight somebody. Because after that you can really do anything with them. And there was a lot of stuff that we had to do where we wanted the physical freedom. We did some weird s--- in some scenes, man. It got to the point where they're just taking mud and slamming it all over your face. I had Jon's tongue in my ear in one scene. All that stuff stems from feeling physically comfortable with the other person.
Bernthal mentioned that you all learned how to say just the right thing to cut each other down for a scene. Did he mean the characters or you as real people?
Oh no, that was real-life stuff, that was personal stuff. Because we got to know each other so well in pre-production that we would use each other's weaknesses or personal problems and really piss each other off. And when we had to use it, we'd bring out those weapons and we'd wound the other person, but all in trying to, I guess, serve the film. Yeah, hurting them for the film.
Who was the hardest to break down?
The hardest to break down? The hardest to break down was probably Brad. (laughs) Yeah, it's hard to break that guy down.
You and Brad are basically co-leads in this film, but he gets to be front and center on the poster.
Yeah! Yeah, motherf---er. Look at that. Blurred me out, I'm out focus, practically waving in the background. "Hey!" (laughs) No, it's cool. I've worked with big actors before, and then there's Brad Pitt. There's definitely more of a spotlight on the movie when Brad's a part of it.