It was a great pleasure to speak with actor Cory Hardrict about his new film, “Battle: Los Angeles.” It is inspired in part by the real-life Battle for Los Angeles of 1942, just after the United States entered WWII. Hardrict, who has appeared in “Grand Torino” and “He’s Just Not That Into You,” is married to Tia Mowry of “Sister, Sister” and “The Game,” and they are expecting their first child this summer. We talked about going through “boot camp” to play a Marine and agreed that there isn’t much more fun than pretending to fighting aliens for a movie.
I want to begin by congratulating you on becoming a father!
Thank you so much. I look forward to being the best dad I can be.
How did you meet your wife? I am a huge fan.
We met about ten years ago on an independent film and we became best friends. She’s like a piece of me and she always supports me, very loving, very kind, a genuinely great person.
Was making this movie as much fun as it seems?
It was like a dream come true, being able to work on a movie of this magnitude. It was like a childhood dream! If you become an actor, you want to fight aliens, you want to do a war movie, you want to save the world! This is all of that combined in one. And it’s real — not just green screen, it’s like “Saving Private Ryan” meets “War of the Worlds,” “Independence Day,” and “District 9,” and “Black Hawk Town,” all in one big pot.
How do you make it work, fighting with something that isn’t really there?
We had targets to interact with. Jonathan Liebesman is an amazing director. Without giving too much away, it wasn’t like “That’s where you’re firing” — it was real. I’ve never been to war, but I can tell you that it felt like I was at a war.
That’s a big pretend — shooting at aliens — how do you get your head into that space?
Basically, it’s like fighting the unknown enemy, and you’re trying to protect the American soil by any means. No matter who you’re fighting with, there’s a sense of urgency, and a frightening experience as well. I put myself in that mode — that this could really happen. Putting all those variables into what we were shooting made the stakes higher. Just thinking about it — it really was frightening. A crazy cool experience.
You’re in the Marines in the movie — you can always tell a Marine by the way he moves. How did you learn to do that?
We had to go to boot came as soon as we got to Louisiana. The people who trained us were military advisers with drill sergeant experience. They were hands-on. We had three weeks of boot camp. It wasn’t like we staying in a hotel and went out there every day. All thirteen of us had to live in a tent we put up ourselves. We began each day at 5 am with a three-mile run. We got a crew cut. We fought as Marines, we slept as Marines, we lived as Marines. We were all one unit. They put us through the same treatment as Marine basic training going overseas. We were out there in the woods and it was very intense. That’s why I keep going back to saying how real it was. We slept outside in little tent-nets zipped up all around to stay away from mosquitoes, rats, raccoons, everything out there in the woods. There was water drippage every night. When people say, “How was that movie?” I say, “That was real.” I will never forget it. It was the hardest movie I’ve ever done but it was the most satisfying. It was blood, sweat, and tears out there. I wish all actors could have this experience.
I’m sure that helped you bond with the other actors.
They say you’re only as good as the last Marine in the unit. We all became close, we all became good friends, we all bonded for one common goal — to defend America to the best of our ability.
There was one scene where I had some interaction with Aaron Eckhart, assisting one another and saving each other’s lives. He’s all about the greatness of the project. He’s very method and puts his all into it. You just have to follow suit and that’s what we all did.
What movie inspired you to become an actor?
When I saw “Independence Day,” I said, “I want to be like Will Smith.” I want to do something like that. If he can do it, maybe one day I can come close to a set like that. To do a movie of this magnitude — and like “Independence Day” this is intense but emotionally driven by its characters — is a dream come true. If I wasn’t in this film, I would be there at midnight to see the first show! I love doing movies that touch people’s lives.