Last week brought to light a story based on true events of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, their brotherhood, their glory, their passion, and their dedication in Only the Brave. These aren’t heroes that hail from Asgard, or Wakanda, but from Prescott, Arizona, and they deserve your attention all the same. Twenty Granite Mountain firefighters went to battle an unruly wildfire that threatened devastation to the town of Yarnell, but only one returned to Prescott. Brendan McDonough was the lone survivor of the Yarnell Hill tragedy, and is played with great care in the film by Miles Teller.
The film is based on the GQ article titled, "No Exit". Pat McCarty left his position with the Granite Mountain Hotshots only a short time prior to the tragedy, and serves with McDonough as a consultant on the film. Screen Rant had the honor of sitting with both Brendan and Pat to speak about their reaction to the performances, and policy changes regarding the operations of wildlife firefighting.
SR: So you guys saw the movie last night at the LA Premiere. Which cast member’s performance stood out to you the most? Which is more like one of your brothers?
Brendan McDonough: That’s such a tough question. I think we’d be doing them a disservice because they did such a phenomenal job every single one of them went into such great depths to understand how their character walked, talked, acted emotionally. They all did such a phenomenal job at showing who our brothers were, and what the wildland fire community is really about, and diving into that hotshot community, and just portraying them in such an amazing way.
SR: And how do you feel about Miles’ performance, cause you’re right there.
Brendan McDonough: Yeah I think he did a phenomenal job. I was very surprised you know. I was just blown away the depth that he went to and the questions that we would ask and the conversations we had to where this one line would be a few hour conversation with me and him of what was going on that day, what was my life like. It just really stood out. It just really carried on through Josh, and James, and Jennifer, and so many of the other actors. Just that authenticity that they wanted to portray. You see it within the director as well. You know just from the top down it was just very powerful.
SR: I read an article that you guys never worried about not making it home. What brings that kind of feeling? Are you comfortable?
Pat McCarty: I think it’s just one of those things that you don’t dwell on because if you’re dwelling on that you’re gonna have a really hard time doing your job. The thought’s there in the back of your mind. But it’s not something that you want to think about right before you get out of the truck.
SR: So unfortunately it always takes a major tragedy like what happened in Yarnell to constitute policy changes. I know that they were thinking about policies to change there. What policy would you like to see change?
Brendan McDonough: I think that we’re seeing great changes already. I think it’s just a matter of time. We’re seeing some great things come about from NASA. We just had, a few months ago, talks about some different technologies. They’re implemented this. It’s just finding the best way for firefighters to use it, and we’re out there. We carry a lot of weight, but we also don’t want to hinder that work efficiency that we have, and so they’re putting a lot of things in the field right now, and they’re testing it so I believe there’s come a lot of change from this tragedy. It just takes time to implement that on such a large scale. We see it in technology. It takes awhile, and they’re doing it. It’s just the process that they do it in will continue to grow as technology grows and this film sheds light on that. It sheds light on how as firefighters we do so much with so little and so much that can go so far. It’s just such a tribute to them, and to the other wildland firefighters that are out there right now.
SR: With the release of the book and now the release of the movie do you consider this a chapter close and you starting a new one, or are you just getting started?
Brendan McDonough: I feel like this whole process we turn pages as you would say every day in our life, and sometimes we go back on a few, jump forward in a few and this film just shows progression and my life and how my brothers impacted me so much. It has just given me so much and the opportunity to be the dad I am today. This film has breathed life back into their stories, and has brought such great honor to the families, and the loved ones, the community. And so we just continue to carry on their legacy, and lean on each other as we always have.
- Only the Brave (2017) release date: Oct 20, 2017