He Ran Bratt Camp
After more than 40 wars, Dale Dye knows his stuff--and those are just the battles he has fought in films. The veteran of Platoon , Saving Private Ryan, and Band of Brothers began his military-movie-consulting career after racking up three Purple Hearts in the Marines in Vietnam. At age 60, he tweaks scripts, whips actors into shape, directs, and acts; he plays himself on HBO's Entourage, training the main character to be "Aquaman." Not only does he appear as a general in The Great Raid, starring Benjamin Bratt and based on the World War II mission to save 500 American POW s from a Japanese camp in the Philippines, but he taught the cast how to fight, too.
I've heard horror stories about your boot camps for actors.
My theory is that you have to immerse these guys in what a soldier goes through. [For the Raid cast], we took two weeks, and they were handed over to me. There were no cellphones or agents. They ate what I fed them. They lived in holes in the ground. This great raid is something we still study in the military, so the actors can't be piddling around with their weapons. Anything they do on camera would be correct.
What does this training do to them?
None of these gents have had any military service, so the whole experience of living wild and being on edge, that's foreign to those guys. After a few days of doing that, they get it. Actors believe the sun rises and sets on their butts. That's the antithesis of what a soldier feels.
What did restaging the raid mean to you?
I love creating a real thing because you have a sense of mission. You don't want to Hollywood it too bad. We told the actors, 'Look, you are portraying real individuals. When your actor weenie wants to come in, don't let it. This is real, and that's dramatic enough.'
What movies got war wrong?
I didn't like Pearl Harbor and Windtalkers. You can't use those events as a canvas and paint in Hollywood crapola. When you're just being hokey, people can tell. Americans are savvy. When they see a military film, they know what the deal is. They've seen Fallujah live on CNN.
This story appears in the August 8, 2005 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.