Living in Texas, I remember the Deepwater Horizon oil rig fire and subsequent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico but I never imagined the terrifying hell-on-earth experience the workers on the rig endured. April 20, 2010, 11 people lost their lives in the largest oil disaster in the oil industry’s history. The rig was destroyed and it took 87 days to cap the sea-floor oil gusher. The studio set up a pre-screening of the movie for me before my interview with director Peter Berg. After watching the movie, I would describe ‘Deepwater Horizon’ as 107 minutes of corporate greed, hegemony, hell, and amazing heroism.

“Deepwater Horizon” was directed by Peter Berg (he also directed “Lone Survivor”). Peter Berg was able to put the audience on the Deepwater Horizon rig just like he was able to put you on the mountainside in “Lone Survivor.” Mark Wahlberg plays the role of Mike Williams, a Marine veteran and the lead electrician aboard Deepwater Horizon. The movie is centered around Mike William’s experience on the rig. Below, he describes falling ten stories to the water’s surface in a ’60 Minutes’ interview in 2010:

I remember closing my eyes and sayin’ a prayer, and asking God to tell my wife and my little girl that Daddy did everything he could and if, if I survive this, it’s for a reason. I made those three steps, and I pushed off the end of the rig. And I fell for what seemed like forever. A lotta things go through your mind.

I went down way, way below the surface, obviously. And when I popped back up, I felt like, “Okay, I’ve made it.” But I feel this God-awful burning all over me. And I’m thinking, “Am I on fire?” You know, I just don’t know. So I start doin’ the only thing I know to do, swim. I gotta start swimmin’, I gotta get away from this thing. I could tell I was floatin’ in oil and grease and, and diesel fuel. I mean, it’s just the smell and the feel of it.- Mike Williams

Prior to my short 15 minute phone interview, I was asked to avoid talking about BP with Peter Berg, after you watch the movie, you will understand why. In my opinion, the level of corporate greed is deplorable. I remember during the oil spill, BP jumping through their asses to not only clean up the spill but to salvage their image. It is amazing that after 2010 BP is still in existence.

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You can check out “Deepwater Horizon,” when it opens across the country this Friday, September 30th.

Interview with Peter Berg:

Peter Berg (left), Mike Williams (center), and Mark Wahlberg (right). Image courtesy of AP
Peter Berg (left), Mike Williams (center), and Mark Wahlberg (right). Image courtesy of AP

Using military to play key roles in his movies

“You just can’t reproduce it..,” is how Peter Berg described utilizing real military service members in key roles in his movies. Just like in he used Navy SEALs in “Lone Survivor,” Berg also used the US Coast Guard from Louisiana in “Deepwater Horizon.” Berg is the son of a Marine and says that he has always had the deepest respect for the military and tries to utilize the military in his movies whenever he can.

Drawn to make movies about real stories like “Lone Survivor” and “Deepwater Horizon”

When I talked to Peter Berg about the similarities of the “Lone Survivor” and “Deepwater Horizon,” one of the main things he was drawn to in making these movies is that they were both based on real stories. Deepwater Horizon was a horrific event that was largely preventable. Berg felt like he needed to tell the story because truth is often better than fiction.

“Lone Survivor” and the Newsweek story on Mohammad Gulab

I asked Peter Berg about the article which featured Mohammad Gulab’s claim that Marcus Luttrell’s version of “Lone Survivor” was inaccurate largely because he helped bring Luttrell’s book to life on-screen. According to Berg, after talking with Marcus Luttrell, he believes that a man back in Afghanistan was able to threaten Gulab and is basically forcing him to try to extort money. Berg feels like Marcus Luttrell has gone to great lengths to bring Gulab here to the United States and help him out financially. He only met Mohammad Gulab once with very limited interaction, and that was before the production of the movie.

New SOF reality series coming soon…

The next project after “Deepwater Horizon,” is a Special Operations Forces reality series called “The Selection: Special Operations Experiment,” in which former SOF members team up with men and women with no military experience to go through military-style training.

“The Selection: Special Operations Experiment” will feature 30 men and women with no military experience being trained and led by veterans of the Navy SEALs, Green Berets and Army Rangers. Contestants will face challenges physical and mental, including tear gas, interrogation simulation and psychological warfare. The show has no competition element, and no prize is involved. Participants are able to remove themselves from the show at any time. -Variety