LOS ANGELES, July 3 (UPI) — U.S. Army soldiers at Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan fought off a deadly attack by hundreds of Taliban forces on Oct. 3, 2009. The Outpost, based on CNN news anchor Jake Tapper’s book, tells their story with some of the soldiers who survived the 2009 attack appearing in the movie.
Scott Eastwood stars as Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha, who survived the battle and received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Eastwood spoke with Romesha on the phone before portraying him.
“He’s a very humble man,” Eastwood told UPI in a phone interview. “Heroism was exceptional from a lot of people that day. I think that’s the big takeaway.”
Romesha did not work on The Outpost directly. He is in development on a movie adaptation of his book, Red Platoon, about the same incident. Soldiers Ty Carter, Hank Hughes, Chris Cordova and Daniel Rodriguez appear in the film.
“There were times that emotions came up that were very real and very raw,” Eastwood said.
Rodriguez played himself. He also had to recreate tragic moments from the battle, like the deaths of his fellow soldiers.
“He did it clinically and coolly and without fanfare,” director Rod Lurie told UPI by phone. “I think like a good soldier, he chose to fall apart a little bit later on.”
Lurie said Rodriguez also advised Eastwood on how Romesha conducted himself during the battle.
Combat Outpost Keating was at a severe disadvantage. It was at the bottom of the Kush Mountains, leading some in the military to refer to it as “Camp Custer,” after Gen. Armstrong Custer’s last stand at Little Bighorn. When the Taliban attacked Oct. 3, the nickname proved tragically accurate.
The film recreated the outpost in a quarry in Bulgaria. Visual effects artists filled in mountains where the landscape of Bulgaria did not quite match Afghanistan.
Rodriguez, Carter, Cordova and Hughes advised Lurie, the cast and crew to recreate moments from the battle accurately. Eastwood remembered recreating a rescue attempt of Staff Sgt. Justin Gallegos (Jacob Scipio). Romesha had spoken with him previously about the real Gallegos.
“There is a specific sequence in the film where Clint Romesha takes on some [rocket-propelled grenade] fire,” Eastwood said. “It’s kind of a pivotal point because Justin Gallegos was trapped at that moment, and he was really trying to lay down some suppression fire.”
Carter was hands-on with Caleb Landry Jones, who played him, Lurie said. The specialist sergeant instructed the actor which hand to open the vehicle door with, and how to breathe when he ran. When Jones loses his breath running through the outpost, that is exactly how the real Carter reacted.
Lurie approached Eastwood to play the role of Romesha. Eastwood said he hesitated at first to make another military movie, having appeared in the World War II dramas Flags of Our Fathers and Fury. When he learned the history of the Keating outpost, he agreed to play Romesha.
“The war machine would put people in this tactically terrible situation,” Eastwood said. “What came out of it really were these acts of heroism. I just was fascinated by everyday people doing extraordinary things under extraordinary circumstances.”
Flags was Eastwood’s first movie role, and his father, Clint Eastwood, directed it. Having forged his own career with roles in Texas Chainsaw 3D, The Longest Ride, Snowden, Suicide Squad and The Fate of the Furious, the junior Eastwood said it is becoming more regular that directors offer him roles outright.
However, Scott Eastwood still would welcome an audition. He sees it as a chance to prove himself.
“There are still great movies out there and incredible directors I’d love to work with and would have zero qualms auditioning for and reading for,” Eastwood said. “In fact, I would seek it out.”
Before landing his first movie, Eastwood studied acting at Santa Monica City College and Larry Moss Acting Studio in 2000-2001.
“You also learn on the job, too,” Eastwood said. “I think it’s a combination of all things.”
Acting runs in the Eastwood family beyond just father and son. Many of Eastwood’s siblings also are actors, like Alison and Francesca. He says the Eastwoods tend to keep work and family life separate.
“[We] don’t have long conversations about acting,” Eastwood said. “We just get out there and do it and make some movies. If you’re happy doing that, keep doing it. If you’re not, do something else.”
The Outpost opens in theaters and on video-on-demand Friday.