Legendary SEAL Marcus Luttrell Talks About His Role In ‘Range 15’

Marcus Luttrell in Range 15, due out May 2016.
Screen grab from Range 15 trailer

Of all the big names to appear on the cast roster for “Range 15,” the ultra-perverse “for veterans, by veterans” zombie apocalypse spoof produced by and starring the masterminds behind Ranger Up and Article 15, perhaps none was more surprising than Marcus Luttrell.

Having been medically discharged from the Navy in 2007 with the Navy Cross, a Purple Heart, and a reputation as one of the most iconic warfighters of the post-9/11 generation, the former SEAL has spent the better part of the past decade reliving the darkest experience of his life — first as the author of the New York Times bestselling book, “Lone Survivor,” then as the focus of a blockbuster film starring Mark Wahlberg, and now as a highly sought-after motivational speaker.

So when news surfaced that Luttrell agreed to join the likes of Nick Palmisciano, Mat Best, and Jarred Taylor in a film that promises to be so offensive it’ll inspire viewers to “never thank another veteran for their service ever again,” many of us were understandably scratching our heads. But Luttrell, who is now 40 and married with children, will be the first to remind us that it’s way less out of character than we’re inclined to think.

“I’m a serious person, but I’m also just a person,” Luttrell told Task & Purpose in a recent interview. “Just because you went to war and came back, that doesn’t change anything.”

On the heels of the “Range 15” trailer debut, Task & Purpose spoke with Luttrell about Hollywood depictions of soldiers and combat, military humor, and why veterans shouldn’t be coddled.

How did you get involved in the “Range 15” project?

They were short a Navy guy. It’s a true story. Their camp contacted my camp, and I was all about it, because I love their clips on YouTube. So when they said they needed another Navy guy, I was like, “yeah, man, I’ll do it.”

Did you know what you were getting yourself into?

Oh, sure, absolutely. Hell, if you can’t laugh at yourself — SEALS, we have a pretty dark sense of humor anyways, so we pick on ourselves just as hard as anyone else does. With “Range 15,” as far as the overall concept goes, they just told me they were making a military movie and I was, “yeah, I’ll be in it.” I knew it wasn’t going to be a serious movie, for sure.

When you finally found out what your scene was going to be, how did you react?

Dude, I thought it was hilarious. Because, truthfully, when people are around me or when it comes to dealing with what I’ve been through, it’s always serious — and it should be, because it was a serious time in my life. So, I imagine that when people hear I’m in the movie, they probably think I’m going to kill everything and survive. But I get killed in like a minute. It’s funny.

How do you think people are going to react?

It’s probably going to be mixed. Some people are going to be like, “ah, that’s bullshit,” just because that’s how it is sometimes. And I think some people are going to get the humor, because that’s truly what it is about: It’s a twist on humor and reality. I thought it was brilliant. Good shit.

If you were going to explain that sense of humor to someone, how would you explain it?

In reality, I’m a serious person, but I’m also just a person. I’m human. I’m not immortal. If the zombie apocalypse happens, I have just a good of chance of getting eaten as anyone else. Granted, I have skill sets that would probably enable me to live a little bit longer than people who’d never served in the military, but in reality I could get hit in the side and bit. And that’s what happens in the movie. The movie is really a satire on the zombie apocalypse, and the military and government — on how people take this stuff too seriously sometimes. Or at least that’s what I got from it.

After “Lone Survivor” came out did you feel pressure to act a certain way?

No. That’s the one thing about me: I don’t do that. I don’t conform to anybody’s way of thinking besides my own. I can go along and get along, and I have bad days, but I know how to laugh. It would be a hell of a thing to have to run that serious line all of the time just because I was depicted in a movie. I mean, you have to understand: Red Wing was just one operation I did of over a hundred. But it’s the one more people know about because the American public knows about it. So, there’s more sides to me than just that. Everybody’s got different doors you can walk in. I like to think of myself as just a regular guy.

One of the big messages in this film is that we, veterans, need to stop taking ourselves so seriously…

Oh, absolutely. I completely agree. We’ve reached a point in this country where if you’ve served in the military people are going to think something is wrong with you. And I just don’t agree with that, at all. I think if you coddle veterans, if you sit there and tell them there’s something wrong with them all the time, they’re going to start to believe it. That’s why I don’t do that. We’re not messed up. Don’t get me wrong, there are guys who suffer from PTSD, but I think can take that a little further than they should. I think veterans should be treated as soldiers, because that’s what we are. We can handle a level of stress that a lot of people can’t. That’s why we do what we do. Just because you went to war and came back, that doesn’t change anything.

What would you say makes a bad war movie?

If you take a real-life scenario and twist it around and try to make it into something it’s not. If you try to make soldiers into superheroes —  that kind of stuff. There’s nothing glorious about war. When people go watch “Range 15,” it’s obviously a spoof, but you’re getting it from the vantage point of veterans who actually fought in the war. It’s really funny how they drew it up.    

What was the difference in atmosphere between the “Lone Survivor” set and the set of “Range 15”?

It was all business on “Lone Survivor.” That was serious. I don’t want to say it was a somber atmosphere, but it was definitely moving. Everyday when I’d come in, someone would come in from multiple parts of the crew, from the lowest guy to the director, and they knew why they were there, like, “Hey, man, it’s an honor to be here.”

When you’re filming a movie about a true story in which a lot of people died it takes on a pretty serious day-to-day tone. But what we were doing with “Range 15” — it was comedy and satire, so we were not only joking during the takes but between takes. I had a blast. I’ve been on the road and grinding a lot, so it was a nice break. Being on that set, and joking around like that was fun.

What problems do you see in the way veterans and service members are portrayed in Hollywood?

In Hollywood, they’re actors. They’re not really warfighters. So all they really have to go on is what they see in other movies, or what they hear when they talk to actual veterans. You’re a vet, you know the deal: when you tell a war story to somebody who’s never been in war, you can see it in their face. They just don’t get it. It’s different when you’ve actually been there. But don’t get me wrong — there are plenty of movies where the actors absolutely nail it. I mean they absolutely nail it. They go through a lot of training before they get there, and some actors are so good at their trade that I would imagine that they’ve actually convinced themselves that they’ve been in combat. That’s how good some of those guys are.

You know what, man? I think Hollywood — no matter what you hear about what they do up there, and how they feel, and what they think about this or that — they understand the fact that that’s a serious role they play when they’re playing warfighters. So, I think as veterans we’re lucky that when Hollywood does portray us, they really do put something into it. From what I’ve seen. Of course, there’s stupid shit out there. But there’s stupid shit everywhere. They have idiots just how we have idiots in the military, too.

Do you see any risk in depicting warfighters as two-dimensional, stoic heroes?

Absolutely, but there’s no way around that. I think that’ll be mitigated in “Range 15” because these guys actually were in combat. You should know what you’re getting yourself into when you go in to see it. If you come out of the theater like, “Ah, man, these guys shouldn’t be joking around like that.” Well, you probably take yourself a little too seriously.

That seems to be one of the primary messages of the film: Everyone needs to lighten up.

Right. Take a step back. There’s so much stuff out there that people worry about, and it’s like, “Why is this a big deal?” I guess that’s one of the beauties of being in combat, and seeing your life flash before your eyes, is that when you get back you don’t take a lot of that stuff seriously. There are bigger issues we need to worry about.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed Luttrell's age as 38. He is, in fact, 40. (2/5/2016; 10:49 am)

New London — Retired four-star general John Kelly said that as President Donald Trump's chief of staff, he pushed back against the proposal to deploy U.S. troops to the southern border, arguing at the time that active-duty U.S. military personnel typically don't deploy or operate domestically.

"We don't like it," Kelly said in remarks at the Coast Guard Academy on Thursday night. "We see that as someone else's job meaning law enforcement."

Read More Show Less
Photo: Iran

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Yemen's Houthi rebel group, part of a regional network of militants backed by Iran, claims to be behind the drone strikes on two Saudi oil facilities that have the potential to disrupt global oil supplies.

A report from the United Nations Security Council published in January suggests that Houthi forces have obtained more powerful drone weaponry than what was previously available to them, and that the newer drones have the capability to travel greater distances and inflict more harm.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The U.S. Air Force has selected two companies to make an extreme cold-weather boot for pilots as part of a long-term effort to better protect aviators from frostbite in emergencies.

In August the service awarded a contract worth up to $4.75 million to be split between Propel LLC and the Belleville Boot Company for boots designed keep pilots' feet warm in temperatures as low as -20 Fahrenheit without the bulk of existing extreme cold weather boots, according to Debra McLean, acquisition program manager for Clothing & Textiles Domain at Air Force Life Cycle Management Command's Agile Combat Support/Human Systems Division.

Read More Show Less

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran rejected accusations by the United States that it was behind attacks on Saudi oil plants that risk disrupting world energy supplies and warned on Sunday that U.S. bases and aircraft carriers in the region were in range of its missiles.

Yemen's Houthi group claimed responsibility for Saturday's attacks that knocked out more than half of Saudi oil output or more than 5% of global supply, but U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the assault was the work of Iran, a Houthi ally.

Read More Show Less
Maj. Matthew Golsteyn in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Philip Stackhouse.)

Nearly a decade after he allegedly murdered an unarmed Afghan civilian during a 2010 deployment, the case of Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn is finally going to trial.

Read More Show Less