The eight-episode series is based on ABC News chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz‘s New York Times bestselling book of the same name, which tells the true story of the April 4, 2004, attack in Sadr City, Baghdad on the 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood. The day came to be known as “Black Sunday.”
Raddatz, showrunner-writer-executive producer Mikko Alanne and executive producer Mike Medavoy worked on the series with a cast that includes Emmy-nominated actors Michael Kelly and Jason Ritter as well as Kate Bosworth, Sarah Wayne Callies, Noel Fisher, and Jeremy Sisto. E.J. Bonilla, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Jon Beavers, Joey Luthman, Kenny Leu, Karina Ortiz, Darius Homayoun, Ian Quinlan, and more also appear on the show.
Kelly posed for some photos before dodging the yellow carpet. Sgt. Eric Bourquin, who survived the real ambush and spent time on set for the series, stood alongside Beavers, who plays Bourquin in the show. Beavers said that at first, he was intimidated when he was offered the role of Bourquin. “Eric was watching over my shoulder and analyzed every move,” he said. “It seemed to be an impossible task, but he was unbelievably generous to me. All the veterans on set [who had lived through ‘Black Sunday’] started telling us actors that they believed we could do it, before we believed that we could do it. They kept reminding us that they are human beings, not superheros.”
“These guys were thrown into a situation that no one could have anticipated and did the best that they could,” Beavers continued. “And they did it for the men on the right and the left of them. It stops being about politics or anything but laying your life down for your brother and, in some cases, having to deal with them laying their life down for you. Once I realized I’m telling a story about a guy who did his best in an impossible situation, I realized, hell, I could do that.”
“What he just said meant a lot,” Bourquin said with a squeeze of Beavers’ shoulder. “He made a key point that I never coached anybody on. The fact that he gets it and is able to emulate me… it’s an honor to have someone of this caliber portraying my story and having a sense of what’s going on in the story itself.”
Bosworth stunned in a soft pink dress, twirling gracefully for the cameras. “I read the scripts for the episodes and found them incredibly powerful,” the actress said. “The show gives an honest and pure insight into the military on both front lines: the front line of the soldiers away and the front line of the families at home.”
National Geographic’s Courteney Monroe, CEO of global networks, welcomed Raddatz and Medavoy, kicking off the premiere with some acknowledgments. After screening two emotional episodes, cast and crew members took the stage to express their thanks and gratification. Raddatz concluded the evening by recognizing Gold Star members, who lost family members in the attack.
“The Long Road Home” premieres Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 9/8c on National Geographic.