In “Hacksaw Ridge,” Mel Gibson’s first film in a decade, Luke Bracey plays an easily-agitated, not very accepting WWII soldier who, along with his cadre of similarly closed-minded grunts, decries Desmond Doss’s (Andrew Garfield) pacifism as cowardice. By the end of the film, Bracey’s soldier, having witnessed Doss’s courage under fire (he saves the lives of 75 men at Okinawa), has a change of heart, and they bond in a dirt trench over cans of processed meat — in between some of the most realistically violent battle scenes ever committed to film.
Bracey, last seen in the Keanu Reeves role in the “Point Break” remake, talks to us about keeping things real and how Gibson is still, after all that’s happened, a funny guy.
So, “Hacksaw Ridge” is insanely violent.
Yes, but that is what war is. We screened the film for a number of veterans, and last week in New Orleans some of them happened to have been at Hacksaw Ridge, and one of them was Drew Brees’ grandfather — you know, the quarterback for the Saints. As awful as it is, it’s kind of humbling, to hear these veterans say that the battle scenes are the most realistic depiction of war they’ve seen. To realize that’s what real-life horror is. I’m a history buff and so is Mel, so the movie had to be realistic.
Mel Gibson has a reputation for joking around on set.
Yes, Mel is the funniest guy. He’s always telling jokes between takes. We didn’t have time or a huge budget for jokes, but he’d come up to you between takes. You think he’s going to give you some direction, but he just tells you a joke and you start laughing. It’s who he is, and it adds life to the shoot. It’s actually a very funny film, and not just Vince Vaughn, who’s one of the funniest people alive. It’s that juxtaposition between the serious side of the film and the funny side. You gotta have the light and the dark.
What kind of jokes?
I don’t remember. Like, he would impersonate people. He’s got a rubber voice. He would pretend to be Spanish or something, whatever. He’s so transformative. He would be getting interviewed by a Spanish interviewer and he would talk to them in a Spanish accent.
Mel is a pretty controversial guy, but on your last film you worked with someone who might be even more controversial: young star screenwriter Max Landis.
Yeah, Max is a great guy. He’s so smart. He’s high energy and he’s got so much going on up there. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of superheroes. We had a good time. Clever dude. His love of stories is wonderful.
Follow Greg Cwik on Twitter @gregcwik1