Rod Lurie interview: ‘The Outpost’ director
“He was the same age as the men who died in the Battle of Kamdesh,” reveals “The Outpost” director Rod Lurie about the tragic loss of his son Hunter Lurie, who died during production of the film at 27 years of age, like many of the men who were killed in action in Afghanistan. We talked with Lurie as part of Gold Derby’s special “Meet the Experts” Q&A event with key 2021 guild and Oscar contenders. Watch our interview above.
“When you’re making the film, it’s for not just me but all the Gold Star families who were behind us and everybody on the crew and the actors and military personnel who were there, there was this galvanizing effect,” Lurie explains when reflecting on how his son impacted the making of this deeply personal film. “We had no money. We had very little time. But we’d be damned if we weren’t going to make the best f***ing movie that we could make,” he proudly declares.
“The Outpost,” which stars Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones and Orlando Bloom, is about a unit of 53 U.S. Army soldiers stationed deep in a dangerous and remote valley in the Hindu Kush mountains of Northern Afghanistan. Widely regarded as a death trap because of its location and exposure to the mountains surrounding it, the outpost is under constant fire by Taliban insurgents, culminating in the deadly Battle of Kamdesh on October 3, 2009, when hundreds of Taliban fighters vastly outnumbered and surrounded the soldiers in a day-long coordinated ambush attack. That battle stands as the bloodiest American engagement of the decades-long war in Afghanistan, as eight U.S. soldiers were killed and another 27 wounded.
The film was adapted by screenwriters Eric Johnson and Paul Tamasy from CNN anchor Jake Tapper’s book “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor.” It dramatizes the harrowing events leading up to the battle as well as the battle itself, featuring relentlessly intense action sequences.
Lurie expertly immerses the audience in the attack while also shining a light on the courage of the troops stationed in the nightmare scenario that this outpost became. It is all the more an impressive achievement by the director because he was working with shoestring budget and condensed filming schedule on location in Bulgaria.
“I didn’t have time to do too many takes and I don’t have time to do too many set-ups. So what I decided to do was do most of the battle in single shots,” he explains about how the single shots worked for him practically but also allowed him to effectively ratchet up the tension in the film’s complex battle sequences. “What that also means, rather than just the cost savings and the time savings is that the actor or the character is fully, fully immersed in the scene and in the moment,” he says.
Before “The Outpost,” Lurie was best known for his acclaimed Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated political thriller “The Contender,” starring Joan Allen, and Jeff Bridges. He also wrote and directed the films “Straw Dogs” and “Nothing But the Truth,” directed “The Last Castle” and created ABC drama series “Commander In Chief,” which was nominated for Best Drama Series at the Golden Globes and for which its star Geena Davis won the Best Actress Golden Globe for playing the first female President of the United States.