David Permut Q&A: ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ producer
“I was floored,” recalls producer David Permut during our recent webcam chat (watch above) when asked about hearing the story of “Hacksaw Ridge” for the first time. “I didn’t believe it, essentially, and I said, ‘that’s impossible.’ And of course, it was true.” Directed by Mel Gibson, this Lionsgate release centers on Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), a WWII Army Medic who served during the Battle of Okinawa while refusing to carry a weapon. Doss saved the lives of several men, ultimately becoming the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Freedom. Permut was recently nominated for the Producers Guild of America Award for Best Picture alongside Bill Mechanic.
The veteran producer first became aware of Doss’ story 16 years ago, and saw an opportunity to make a new kind of World War II film. “I felt like with all the great wars movies that have been made in our past in Hollywood,” he divulges about the long journey. “How do you tell a war story from such a unique and different perspective? So when I heard that he’d never touched a gun on the front-lines, that had an incredible hook, and made it uniquely different from any war movie that I could think of.” Doss, who died in 2006 at the age of 87, was around in the early stages of the film’s development.
Permut received Emmy and PGA nominations for the TV movie “Prayers for Bobby” (2009). In addition to the PGA citation, “Hacksaw Ridge” has reaped Golden Globe bids for Best Film Drama, Best Director, and Best Actor, plus BAFTA noms for Garfield, Adapted Screenplay (Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight), Film Editing, Sound, and Makeup/Hair. Are the Oscars next?