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Listen: ‘Mile 22’ Director Peter Berg on the CIA, Russia and Putin’s New Envoy Steven Seagal

Peter Berg
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON — Peter Berg, the director of the new action thriller “Mile 22,” says the project was developed before much of the intrigue unfolded over Russia’s attempts to interfere with the U.S. elections.

In the movie, Mark Wahlberg stars as an operative in an elite, secret CIA unit tasked with delivering a valuable “asset” 22 miles through a hostile southeast Asian country to safety, where he is supposed to provide valuable information. The Russians, though, are plotting to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“We have stumbled into something that is more current than we ever intended it to be,” Berg tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM.

“I don’t believe that U.S. and Russia are engaged in the level of violent operations against each other that we touch upon in ‘Mile 22,'” he adds. “But I am not sure. We might be.”

Berg said he met with real-life members of the CIA unit, Ground Branch, and acknowledges that they can be “extremely unorthodox.” The group is portrayed as the “third option” for the U.S. government after diplomatic and military options fail.

“Depending on your morality and your politics, what they do is potentially not OK,” he says. “I have been a big fan and subscriber to most everything I have encountered, and I have found that the members of that group were willing to talk, but not about everything.”

He says he does not think Trump’s post-summit press conference with Vladimir Putin was the president’s “finest hour,” but says he doesn’t have comment on the president’s attacks on the so-called “deep state” or the career intelligence officials.

He thinks Putin’s selection of Steven Seagal as special envoy is an “interesting tell of what Putin values and how he sees himself, and maybe how he wants to see himself.”

Berg said he spoke to Seagal once, and, “I didn’t understand a lot of what he was talking about. It was a one-sided conversation, and I didn’t understand what he was telling me. But he might be operating on a level that I wasn’t equipped to handle.”

Listen below:

“PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety‘s Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays from 2-3 p.m. ET/11 a.m.-noon PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It also is available on demand.