Only the Brave is a new drama based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a group within the Prescott Fire Department tasked with fighting wildfires in the area. The film, directed by Joesph Kosinski, centers specifically on the Yarnell Hill Fire incident from June 2013, drawing inspiration from an article in GQ magazine. Josh Brolin stars as the group’s leader, Eric Marsh, but he is just one of many big names featured in the cast.
Also among the ensemble are James Badge Dale and Taylor Kitsch, who portray Jesse Steed and Chris MacKenzie, respectively. When true stories, particularly one of this nature, are brought to life on the big screen, much care must be taken into the portrayal so that the movie serves as a touching and fitting tribute of its subjects, honoring them. That was one of many topics we talked about with the actors during our interview with them, which also covered Kitsch’s reaction to fan demand he plays Gambit again.
SR: I assume that you guys have had to do so much research into Mac and Jesse. What’s the best thing that you learned about them?
Taylor Kitsch: Damn, that’s hard to pinpoint one thing.
SR: I know, one of the best things.
Taylor Kitsch: I love Mac’s energy. He’s high energy, always smiling, loved punk music, was always in the moment and that’s what Brendan who’s obviously the survivor, and his best friend, and roommate, confidant, and everything in between that. I just think that he really did encompass living everyday to its fullest. You know, dig on the line for 12, 14 hours after two weeks jump to a concert for the weekend, go hang out, come back be ready Monday at 4am to go do it all over again. Like that was the type of guy that he was. I don’t know it’s inspiring to be a part of those types of guys.
James Badge Dale: Jesse, he was very present, you know. Jesse had a wife and kids. He wasn’t hopping to concerts, but he would work 16 hours a day, come home, and his wife told me that it would be like as if he hadn’t worked that 16 hours. He was that present, that giving, that loving, and he loved his kids, and loved her. He was so excited to spend time with his family. You take those things and we hold them dear.
SR: You guys must have felt so much responsibility with portraying them correctly. This film focuses on the brotherhood and the dedication to the hotshots instead of the aftermath which is easy to dramatize. Why do you think Joseph [director] chose that route and is one way better than the other?
James Badge Dale: This film is about Yarnell, about the events leading up to that. This is about the years of work these guys have put in. This is about the sacrifices they made, and their family members. When you look at this film, when you watch Brolin and Jennifer Connelly’s relationship, and two people trying to navigate each other as we all do in our lives, there’s a lot of beauty and love in this movie. A lot of care has been taken to do it the right way. I think there’s a lot of things that people can relate to because we all have faults, we all have cracks, we all have fissures. We’re all trying to fix them and do the best that we can.
Taylor Kitsch: I think he handled it incredible well. It didn’t glorify it in any way. It was more matter of factly done in a beautiful sense of that. To echo Badge it really is in the spirit of these guys, that brotherhood and the balance that they had or didn’t have on and off the line. As an actor that’s music to our ears where you’re gonna sit into these characters. You’re gonna have an arc, you’re going to be able to —-
James Badge Dale: Taylor mentioned, ‘movies like this don’t come along very often’, you know what I mean. Hollywood isn’t making movies like this.
SR: Especially true event stories.
Taylor Kitsch: Exactly.
James Badge Dale: And it’s important. We jump into this. What was the word you used? Empowering?
Taylor Kitsch: Yeah.
James Badge Dale: Show up everyday with purpose. It’s good for an actor to give in that way.
SR: Taylor, how do you feel about people still wanting you to be Gambit in the upcoming film?
Taylor Kitsch: Wow, what a transition. That was such a smooth transition.
James Badge Dale: How do you feel about that man?
Taylor Kitsch: Uhhh, I’m flattered by it? I don’t know what you say to that.
SR: I mean the fans are split. They still want to see you portray that character.
Taylor Kitsch: Well thank you.
James Badge Dale: You were my favorite Gambit.
Taylor Kitsch: The only Gambit’s your favorite Gambit [high-fives James].
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