Mark Wahlberg and Marcus Luttrell at
StarTraks Photo

Mark Wahlberg, Emile Hirsch and Taylor Kitsch on training for the military drama

Universal’s “Lone Survivor,” based on the memoir by Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, held a premiere on Dec. 3 at New York’s Ziegfeld Theater that doubled as a tribute to the men who lost their lives in the ill-fated 2005 Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan. After the screening, director Peter Berg introduced Luttrell to a standing ovation, as well as family members of the soldiers who perished on the mission.

Mohammad Gulab, the Afghan who helped save Luttrell by hiding him in his village, also made an appearance “for the first time in New York City and ever in a movie theater,” Berg noted.

Mark Wahlberg, who plays Luttrell, called him “such a remarkable guy.” On the red carpet outside the Ziegfeld, the cast talked about how they trained to portray Navy SEALS, which included attending a three-week bootcamp in New Mexico.

“We each had a SEAL assigned to us,” Emile Hirsch said. “We were probably going through 1,000 rounds of M4 bullets a day. There was a huge insurance problem, because we’re running around with these loaded weapons. You learn to trust the other actors really quickly.”

Added Taylor Kitsch, “It was more about the mindset, how they fight, how they work together and what you see in the film — the brotherhood.”

Wahlberg said he found the role challenging because it was his fourth movie in a 12-month period. “I went from ‘Broken City,’ where I had to get as skinny as possible, to ‘Pain and Gain,’ where I had to go as big as possible, then lose all my weight for ‘2 Guns’ and then go to SEAL training.”

“I’m old, man,” he confessed. “I’m the oldest of the bunch. I’m 42. I feel 52. I just had a lot of bumps and bruises along the way.”

Hirsch said that he was “really out of shape” when he started to campaign Berg for his part in the film. He only convinced the director by showing up at 4 a.m. to a local Gold’s gym, a regimen that he continued for 3.5 months.

“I would do my 90-minute weight program,” Hirsch said. “And it would be two hours of cardio right after.”

“I had spies who were monitoring how hard he was working out,” Berg later said. “I pretended not to know, because I didn’t want him to know I was impressed.”

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