Training Actors for War Games
“Saving Private Ryan” is a classic military movie which the main characters went through a mini boot camp taught by Warriors Inc Cadre
The movie “Saving Private Ryan” is a classic military movie directed by Steven Spieldberg. The main characters of the movie all went through a mini boot camp taught by Warriors Inc Cadre (Founded by Ret. USMC Capt Dale Adam Dye – a California company that specializes in training actors for realistic military portrayals, for movies), the trainers of the 80’s hit movie “Platoon”, that shaped Charlie Sheen & Tom Berenger into grunts.
Back to Saving Private Ryan, here are some of the things that the main characters under went to get them not into shape, but the shaping of the characters behind the grunts of WWII. Without further ado, I give you Warrior Inc Cadre commentary.
Our Warriors Inc. Cadre included the CO, 1stSgt. John Barnett, Sgt. Billy Budd, T5 Brian Maynard (Medic) and Cpl. Laird Macintosh as Platoon Right Guide. As we designed the WW II Ranger training schedule, we assigned each Cadre member a specific actor/trainee for special attention. Capt. Dye focused on Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks), 1stSgt. Barnett worked with SFC Horvath (Tom Sizemore), T5 Maynard taught T4 Wade the squad medic and Cpl. Macintosh worked with T4 Upham, the attached interpreter. We all pitched in to provide training and character building background for the remaining three Rangers in training.
The Cadre designed a seven-day, seven-night schedule that was to take place in the deep woods near Hatfield, England, an abandoned British Aerospace manufacturing plant where several of the major sets were being built. The weather typically turned English on us. It was raining most of the time and mud quickly became an infantry mobility problem. Regardless, we were up early each morning for PT, which included long runs to improve stamina and endurance. Weapons handling was a priority and we spent long hours firing and reloading M-1s, Thompson SMGs, carbines and BARs under simulated combat conditions. Weapons maintenance also became critical as the rain and mud were always getting into actions as the troops crawled or maneuvered through the rough terrain.
Courses taught were land navigation, fire and maneuver, patrol formations and tactics for assault on fortified positions since all of these events were called for in the script. Also included in the curriculum were classes on Communication Procedures, field first aid, casualty evacuation, close-quarters combat and bayonet training. Many of our patrols took place at night and over extremely constricted terrain. Rangers in training ate British 10-in-1 rations in the field and slept under leaky canvas when they weren’t running night patrols. By the end of T-3 (training day three) the Ranger unit was functioning under its own chain of command and the Warriors Inc. Cadre plus some locally recruited help from the production staff were serving primarily as aggressor forces.
One extremely valuable and interesting aspect of this training was conducted by Doc Bryan Maynard who obtained a partial sheep carcass from a local butcher to teach Ranger Medic Wade how to suture wounds and probe for bullets or shrapnel.
When we moved to southeast Ireland for the D-Day sequences, Capt. Dye was called away to consult with Director Steven Spielberg and the Warriors Inc. Cadre came into its own during an exhausting two days of getting 1,000 Irish Army Reserve soldiers into shape to portray American GIs on Omaha Beach. They did an outstanding job in a very short time-frame. Just prior to filming, we took all our available Higgins Boat Landing Craft to Wexford Harbor where Capt. Dye taught the actors and the Irish Army procedures for landing from these boats on a hostile shore.
Incidentally, we intentionally did not include Matt Damon who plays the actual Pvt. Ryan in our field training, as we did not want the Rangers to bond with him. They resent him in the story and we wanted to preserve that feeling. Warriors Inc. Cadre did train Damon and other paratroopers in his unit later in the production while shooting on other locations was taking place.
While filming in England for the big D day, the weather was just horrific, nothing but rain. (Sounds like Seattle) There were stories that people had quit the training while filming. It’s not true, all actors complain, but that’s natural in this kind of settings.
What was true was that there wasn’t enough equipment to keep the actors warm and dry. The Cadre wanted to replicate the conditions that was back in D day. The Cadre’s went on to explain the real conditions that the Rangers had to endure to storm Omaha beach, which was much worse than the filming conditions. As actors they were fortunate to re-enact this significant historic scene, surely they can do with a little discomfort.