– by Gig Patta

Tens of thousands of soldiers died during the Vietnam War that lasted for years.

This war placed many young soldiers in a new kind of combat or any combat for the first time.

In August 1966, over a hundred inexperienced Australian and New Zealand soldiers fought for their lives against 2,500 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers in a rubber plantation called Long Tan. Unprepared and outgunned, the young troops had to fend off multiple waves of soldiers attempting to overrun their base.

In Danger Close, the storytellers wanted to tell and honor the participants of the Battle of Long Tan.

The film stars Travis Fimmel (Warcraft: The Beginning, Vikings), Luke Bracey (Point Break, G.I. Joe: Retaliation), Daniel Webber (The Punisher, The Dirt), Alexander England (Alien: Covenant, Gods of Egypt), Aaron Glenane, (Snowpiercer), Nicholas Hamilton (It, Captain Fantastic), Myles Pollard (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Matt Doran (The Matrix, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones), Anthony Hayes (Animal Kingdom) and Richard Roxburgh (Moulin Rouge!, Van Helsing).

The film is directed by Kriv Stenders (Red Dog, Boxing Day) and written by Stuart Beattie (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Collateral).

LRM Online had a phone interview last month with Luke Bracey, who portrayed one of the important heroes in the Battle of Long Tan with Sergeant Bob Buick. We talked about the research and authenticity of the hero, the battle, and the veterans of this combat.

Danger Close is currently playing in select theaters and available on digital and On Demand today.

Read the exclusive interview below.

LRM Online: I’ve checked out your film. Very exciting. Why were you attracted to this project in the first place for Danger Close?

Luke Bracey: This is the first Australian story that I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of. It was a more important story to tell on the personal side. That’s one of the things that was attracted to me. I read the scripts, which were written by Stuart Beattie, one of the world’s best screenwriters. It was unbelievable. There were also Kriv Stenders, the director, and the cast involved. It was a no-brainer to me. I felt privileged to be part of this story, and this critical moment in Australian history. It’s about ordinary men doing extraordinary things. The story is giving these men their recognition they deserve after many years.

LRM Online: What did he know about the Battle of Long Tan down before you performed in this movie? Were you fully aware of it?

Luke Bracey: I was aware of it at one time. I’m a bit of a history buff. I was aware of the circumstances surrounding it and the details of the battle. To be able to dive in and get into the minutiae was exciting for me. There was so much information about it. I was knowledgeable about the battle and everything that went into it. That attracted me as well because I knew what a fantastic story it was. There was the history, the conflict, and the respect that either side has for each other. It’s beautiful about the story. It brought this story back full circle and gave the men that were there their story back at them. We were able to say thank you and be appreciative of them. It’s a humbling experience.

LRM Online: It’s great that you’re honoring the Australians and New Zealanders for this film. You’re also honoring Sergeant Bob Buick for the movie too. Did you look more into his background, or was there any information?

Luke Bracey: I was lucky with my research on Bob. Fantastic resource would be Australia War Memorial has on their Website, which has information on several veterans from World War II to current events today. The site has veterans sitting down in front of the camera and talking about their lives. Bob had done one of those interviews. It’s maybe four hours long. It started with Bob saying, “I was born in South Africa, and I moved to Australia when I was a young kid.” That was an excellent resource for me since Bob was telling his life story in his own words. Bob was a real soldier. He went into the army at the age of 18. By the time the battle occurred, he was 26. He was one of the experienced veteran career soldiers and in charge in charge of several young men. These were kids who didn’t know what they were doing or wanted to be there.

Those aspects let me know on where Bob came from as a person and was informative. It opened the story. He seemed to be a tough customer. But, from Bob’s perspective, it came out of a desire for these boys to get home alive and take care of the young men under his command. That was an excellent resource for me for Bob to talk about life experience outside of Vietnam itself.

LRM Online: Now, you got muddy and gritty for this film. Besides the research, did you do any extra preparation for a challenging role such as this?

Luke Bracey: I like to tailor my preparations for a film by getting into the aspects that I think are important. One is to get into the psyche of the character in the movies. When you’re doing a film like this, and you read the script, it’s going to be very physical. First and foremost, there’s the responsibility in physically able to do it. You can sustain yourself for the number of weeks of takes. With that physical preparation, it gets you in the mindset of sacrifice and discipline. Making a film is a pretend sport, you’ll never going to get close to the experience of the battle and be in a platoon or a company of soldiers. The physical kind of strain and that pushing yourself past physical barriers was a massive part for me. It got my mind in the right headspace for the idea of sacrifice and discipline. I knew it would be a physically demanding role, and I wanted to make I was prepared for the role. It would be a big positive.

LRM Online: Now you mentioned that you got into the psyche of your role, since this is a fictional set, what are you battling against? We’re talking about fake bullets and not many explosions that would be near you.

Luke Bracey: It’s an independent Australian movie, so time and money are always against you in these kinds of situations. We had the explosions and the sort of physical stimuli we needed in the most significant bits. There was a moment where I was around probably the biggest explosions since Hacksaw Ridge, Point Break, and November Man aside. We had some considerable explosions in this film, which was helpful for us. Even if there are bullets and explosions, you still have this element of imaginations.

When our extras surrounded us, they were Iraq and Afghanistan veterans; we could lean on them for their advice. What happens in a particular situation? They were so helpful as a resource, not only letting us know from their stories and their experiences, but also giving us the note of approval. They were proud and happy that we were doing this as actors pretending to be heroes surrounded by actual heroes telling us that we were doing a good job. That helps us. You feel the responsibility on top of that. It’s, it’s one of those things you prepare as well as you can and try and get as close to the idea as possible. The rest is up to the movie magic, but we try to do our bit and shine. It’s truthful to these characters and the stories as we can.

LRM Online: Since you mentioned you worked alongside with a lot of veterans as extras, what was the best advice they gave you since you don’t have warfare experience?

Luke Bracey: They were one of the most significant resources on set. One of the best things was with the dynamic between people in the platoon. There was the dynamic between the leftenant, the sergeant, and between the corporals. It’s observing how the kind of hierarchy is structured by showing respect. That was probably one of the best things I got from these guys.

Australians are known for disdain and weariness of authority. I think that’s an interesting dynamic when you are talking about Australians soldiers and war films. There’s a unique part of Australian culture that comes through when you’re talking about the stuff in the hierarchy. That was probably the best information and insight on what it’s like to be a part of the chain of command and part of the company.

LRM Online: Excellent. Hey, thank you, Luke, for speaking with me. I love you in all your action films. Thank you very much.

Luke Bracey: Thanks.

Danger Close is currently playing in select theaters and available on digital and On Demand today.

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Source: LRM Online Exclusive

Gig Patta is a journalist and interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review since 2009. He was a writer for other entertainment sites in the past with Collider and IESB.net. He originally came from the world of print journalism with several years as a reporter with the San Diego Business Journal and California Review. He earned his MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and BA in Economics from UC San Diego. Follow him on Instagram @gigpatta or Facebook @officialgigpatta.