When aliens actually do attack Los Angeles and the extra-terrestrial shit hits the fan, Aaron Eckhart knows exactly what actors he'd round up to fight them off. He told us his alien-killing dream-squad...and why Battle: L.A.'s better than The Core.
We sat down with Aaron Eckhart in an exclusive interview while he was promoting his extremely gritty alien-fighting movie Battle: Los Angeles, directed by Jonathan Liebesman. But while we were talking about how this new film is going to up the ante of the alien invasion genre, we made sure to find out who Aaron Eckhart would turn to if the the aliens really did attack LA. Then we turned his results into a poster for what could be the world's greatest Funny or Die sketch ever — and Eckhart agrees.
A lot of people have been calling Battle L.A. Independence Day meets Blackhawk Down. What do you think about that?
If somebody is going to categorize the movie, I'd say that's pretty good. This movie is urban warfare. If something plowed into this room right now and we were all hostages here and Marines came in, that's what this movie was like on a daily basis. It was insane. I felt like I was at war. I feel like the audience will feel the same way. Then you add the aliens in there, and what's not to like in this movie? The kids are going to dig it. People are going to feel like there's solid relationships in this movie. The way that we structured the film with the boot camp, these Marines bonded so much, by the time we were making this movie they all knew each other so much they could go into intimate detail about one another's lives. And they were able to use that in the movie. They had such a vibe in this movie.
How much tactical training did you do for this film?
Three weeks of boot camp. In the movie we were constantly advised. By the time the film was over we knew our weaponry. I felt like when I looked at these guys, because we shot in Louisiana in the middle of the summer, when I looked in their eyes they'd looked exhausted, like they'd been to hell and back.
Did you meet with military personal and discuss what the military protocol is for an alien invasion?
They would go by a regular invasion, because they only know what they know. We had two Marines on set all of the time for that kind of stuff. But yeah we asked all those questions like, What would you do? [And they'd say] "We'd Kill 'em! We'd shoot them."
So this film released a viral that stated that in the 1950s, LA was actually attacked by a UFO. Do you believe that LA was actually attacked, or are you a non-believer?
I haven't done as much research as you, but I believe that they believe that. But... I don't know what I believe anymore. The world is such a wacky place. If aliens came out of Santa Monica Bay I'd say "really, ok?"
All right, please indulge me. Let's say aliens did attack LA. And they killed everyone but the actors. Who would you pick, as your alien resistance team out of the remaining actors in LA?
My commander... Oh that's a good question. The guy in charge, it would have to be an old dude. I'd get Robert Duvall. Then I'd have Viggo [Mortensen] as another serious commander in the Army. Then I'd get Sean Penn absolutely. I would get...gimmie a second. Throw some chicks in there. I would definitely want to be a part of it. Jason Patric. Let me think of my boys. God there's so many good actors I'd get. Now wait. Do they have to act or do they have to kill?
See I guess you could argue either. Me personally, I'd go find Mickey Rourke immediately.
Mickey, yes. Mickey would be point. He could really show up. This would be a great Funny or Die video. We have to get Michelle Rodriguez, she's so great.
So there's been long stretch of non-science fiction work since The Core, why return to the genre for this film?
The Core is more of a fantasy movie. That's why I'm really proud of this film because we based everything absolutely in reality. This is a war movie. We went out there every single day we laid it out there. This is not like dressing up in a purple space suit. I love doing it, it's just a different feel. When you're an actor and you go to work and you're on a set all day in a studio. It's not the same as this, which is in the streets. You look in the mirror and you're covered in sweat and grime, and it's fun for an actor.
Is that the reason that you chose to do this particular film over something like Transformers?
I haven't seen [Transformers], so I don't know. But look if the sell is, "we're going to do an alien war movie," I'm not necessarily going to do that movie. Because in the wrong hands, which is 97% of the people, it's going to turn out to be a movie that's on green screen and there won't be a lot of reality. But when Jonathan [Liebesman] said "We're going to make this film like this Youtube video of house to house combat in Fallujah, I literally — from that second on, I didn't care about anything else. And I actually believe that we accomplished that.
So besides being gritty and tactical, how is your character different from all the other heroes we've seen fighting aliens?
I don't know that he is a hero. He's a Staff Sergeant that's seen it all and doesn't want to be there. It's that kind of romanticized vision of an old dude with young kids and you're wondering if he's sane or if he's senile? Is he leading us all to our deaths? Obviously they come around and see the wisdom and all that, so it's not groundbreaking in that sense. But what is great is audiences like to see relationships and sacrifices and love and loyalty. And thats all in this movie. I've had the chance to go over to Afghanistan with the USO and if you ask them why they are over there, you'll get the basic answer that they're doing it for this reason or that reason. But the real reason is they're doing it for the guy next to them. And that's what this movie is about.
How high is the death toll in this film?
Not too significant. It's not a gory movie in that way. It's not just people getting killed all over the place. There are significant deaths. In other words we care about the deaths, and they have an affect and they also propel the film forward. But it's not too graphic in that way.
Top image by THE GREAT AND POWERFUL GARRISON DEAN.