Interview with Brendan McDonough and Miles Teller about the movie “Only the Brave”

If you are having trouble viewing the video above, you can watch it on YouTube.

Bill Gabbert sat down with Brendon McDonough and Miles Teller the day of the red carpet screening in Phoenix of “Only the Brave”, which is about the Granite Mountain Hotshots. In 2013, 19 members of the crew perished in the Yarnell Hill Fire south of Prescott, Arizona.

Mr. McDonough was the only member of the 20-person crew to survive. Miles Teller played him in the movie.

We also interviewed Josh Brolin who played Eric Marsh the superintendent of the crew, James Badge Dale who played Jesse James Steed the second in command, and Amanda Marsh, Eric’s wife.

On Thursday October 19 you will be able to see the interview with country music star Dierks Bentley who co-wrote “Hold the Light”, a song featured in the film.

The movie opens October 20, 2017.

Interview with James Badge Dale about “Only the Brave”

If you are having trouble watching the video above, you can see it on YouTube.

Bill Gabbert sat down with James Badge Dale the day of the red carpet screening in Phoenix of “Only the Brave”, which is about the Granite Mountain Hotshots. In 2013, 19 members of the crew perished in the Yarnell Hill Fire south of Prescott, Arizona.

Mr. Dale played Jesse James Steed, the second in command on the crew.

We also interviewed Josh Brolin who played Eric Marsh the superintendent of the crew, and Amanda Marsh, Eric’s wife.

On Wednesday October 18 we will have an interview with Brendon McDonough and Miles Teller. Mr. McDonough was the only member of the 20-person crew to survive. Miles Teller played him in the movie.

And on Thursday October 19 you will be able to see the interview with country music star Dierks Bentley who co-wrote “Hold the Light”, a song featured in the film.

The movie opens October 20, 2017.

Interview with Josh Brolin about his role in “Only the Brave”

If you are having trouble watching the video above, you can see it on YouTube.

Bill Gabbert of Wildfire Today sat down with Josh Brolin in Phoenix about a week before the opening of the movie about the Granite Mountain Hotshots, “Only the Brave”. He explained that he and the other actors felt that the subject of the film was very meaningful.

You might notice that he wore a Granite Mountain Hotshots shirt during the interview.

The film opens nationwide October 20, 2017.

Interview with Amanda Marsh

Amanda talked about the Granite Mountain Hotshots, her late husband Eric, the movie that will be out in a week, horses, and what it is like being the spouse of a wildland firefighter.

If you are having trouble viewing the video above, you can see it on YouTube.

This interview with Amanda Marsh was filmed the day after the red carpet screening in Phoenix of the movie “Only the Brave”, which is about the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a 20-person crew of wildland firefighters. In 2013, 19 members of the crew, including her husband Eric, perished in the Yarnell Hill Fire south of Prescott, Arizona.

You might think the film is solely about the tragedy, but most of it is about the firefighters, their families, relationships, and building a crew.

We are very appreciative of Amanda for spending time with us. Three days before, she was in Los Angeles for the red carpet premiere and 14 hours before we filmed this she was at the Phoenix event. It does not show, but she was tired and said she was glad that her official appearances related to the movie were over.

The film will be released nationwide October 20, 2017. We reviewed it on October 11.

Be sure and catch the very end of the interview.

Review of “Only the Brave”

(Originally published at 8:34 p.m. PDT October 11, 2017)

“Only the Brave” is one of the few movies that have featured wildland firefighters as the main story line. “Red Skies of Montana”, filmed near Missoula in 1952, is a classic, and the 1998 “Firestorm” featuring Howie Long is funny, and not in a good way.

“Only the Brave”, which opens nationwide October 20, is based on the Granite Mountain Hotshots that fought not only wildfires for several years, but battled with the establishment to finally be certified as the first Type 1 Interagency Hotshot Crew managed by a municipal fire department — the Prescott, Arizona Fire Department. Before that, all 100+ Hotshot crews had been organized by state or federal agencies.

Only the Brave
Joah Brolin at the microphone. to his left are James Badge Dale and Director Joseph Kosinski.

The crew’s final battle began and ended on June 30, 2013 when 19 of the 20 crew members were overrun and killed by the Yarnell Hill Fire 27 air miles southwest of Prescott. The movie, of course, covers this tragedy, but most of it is about the firefighters, their families, relationships, and building a crew.

More photos from the Red Carpet screening for “Only the Brave” in Phoenix October 10, 2017.

The lone survivor of the 20-person crew was Brendan McDonough, played by Miles Teller. Since the tragedy Brendan has talked openly about his struggles with drugs and wrote about it in his book “My Lost Brothers”. The script did not shy away from this fact and the role the brotherhood of the crew played in his rehabilitation as he also became a father. Miles Teller was excellent in the role.

Only the Brave
Josh Brolin at the red carpet screening of Only the Brave October 10, 2017 in Phoenix.

The Superintendent of the crew, Eric Marsh, was played by Josh Brolin in a phenomenal performance, showing the right amount of firefighter machismo, flaws, and maturity. The actual person, Eric Marsh, had some personal history that was similar in some ways to Brendan.

The film does a pretty good job of capturing some of the atmosphere of Hotshot crews, which have been described as tactical athletes, “elite” firefighters, or the Green Berets and Seal Teams of the wildland firefighting world.

Other movies that have had scenes showing wildland fires have had great difficulty creating realistic video imagery of active fires. Apparently it is very difficult use computer magic to simulate flames and smoke that honor the laws of physics. And you can’t just take actual footage of past fires and plop it down in a movie, especially when you need to show actors in close proximity. Their result, put together by Director Joseph Kosinski, while not perfect, is far better than any past attempts I have seen.

Authenticity was very important to Mr. Kosinski. Many films have consultants, but the degree to which their input is adopted varies greatly. Former Granite Mountain Hotshots Brendan McDonough and Pat McCarty were on the set frequently. Mr. Kosinski said he could not have made the film without Mr. McCarty. The fireline gear carried and used by the actors was representative of the actual equipment used by wildland firefighters.

Some of the procedures were also very authentic. In one scene showing the Granite Mountain crew training before they were Hotshot Qualified, the crewmembers were seen running to a site where Eric Marsh told them to DEPLOY their fire shelters, their last resort. The firefighters had already shed their 30-pound packs so they could run faster and were carrying their fire shelters in their hand, ready to deploy…. just like actual firefighters are trained to do when they have to retreat unexpectedly from an approaching fire.

The fire behavior in the film was mostly shown as aggressive with a rapid rate of spread. Occasionally some action on the screen would result in a small unnecessary explosion — a sudden burst of flames — such as when a burning tree slides off a cliff and hits the ground, or when “Brendan” throws away a malfunctioning drip torch that then explodes — it had been shooting out eight-foot flames due to a “bad mix” of diesel and gasoline — which can happen, but rarely to that extent.

Taylor Kitsch as Christopher MacKenzie and James Badge Dale as second in command Jesse Steed were both believable as Hotshot firefighters.

Jeff Bridges played Duane Steinbrink, the person in the Prescott Fire Department in charge of the wildland fire program and Erick Marsh’s supervisor. It was not a huge role, but he very convincingly pulled off some key scenes with Josh Brolin. Mr. Steinbrinks’s wife was played by Andie MacDowell.

Jennifer Connelly was cast as Erick Marsh’s wife, Amanda Marsh. Several of her scenes were very important, intense, and emotional. She pulled it off extremely well.

One of the issues dealt with in the film was mixing the life of a wildland firefighter with the demands of a family. A hotshot in an average year can be away from home about 90 percent of the time during the three to six month fire season, making it difficult to maintain a healthy family life. When a Hotshot returns home after a 14 to 16-day fire assignment they may be too tired during their two days off to interact in a meaningful way with their family before they leave again for another two-week assignment.

One of the issues about the entrapment and death of the 19 firefighters was why they left the safety of a black, burned over area, and hiked toward a ranch which had been identified as a safety zone. The official reports about the accident have said that no one on the fire at the time knew the crew was moving in that direction before they were trapped by the rapidly moving fire. The Eric Marsh character is shown a couple of times saying on his radio to Jesse Steed and the Operations Section Chief that they were moving to the safety zone so they could “re-engage” the fire. If they had stayed in their original black, burned-over area, they would have been safe. Unproductive, but safe — and alive. Re-engaging the fire, possibly helping to protect homes as the fire burned into the community of Yarnell, which was in the direction they were moving, may have been the goal of the actual crew.

However, it would be a mistake to look at this movie as a documentary that answers questions about what really happened that day in 2013.

Country music star Dierks Bently co-wrote the song heard during the closing credits, “Hold the Light”.

The CEO of a wildland firefighting private company told us after seeing the Red Carpet Screening in Phoenix that he will require all of his employees to see the film by October 30.

“Only the Brave” is a powerful film that can be appreciated by the general public as well as firefighters. Josh Brolin’s performance may be brought up during awards season, while Jennifer Connelly and James Badge Dale can’t be overlooked either.


(UPDATE at 8:12 p.m. MDT October 12, 2017)

Some other early reviews are in for “Only the Brave”.  Here are links to the first four that showed up with a Google search this evening:

One of the most interesting passages in the reviews was from the Hollywood Reporter:

Because of its cast of young men being buff and hormonal and good at their jobs, one could say that Only the Brave is the Top Gun of firefighter movies, the difference being that the new pic feels like it’s embedded in reality rather than in an aerial wet dream.

Press conference with the cast of “Only the Brave”

Below we have a recording of the live press conference that occurred in Los Angeles Sunday morning October 8, 2017 featuring nine people associated with the movie about the Granite Mountain Hotshots, “Only the Brave”.

On June 30, 2013 19 members of the crew were killed on the Yarnell Hill Fire south of Prescott, Arizona. Of the 20 Hotshots, the only one that survived was Brendan McDonough. In the photo above, Brendan is on the left in the front row and was introduced as a creative consultant. One of the actors mentioned that he was on the set almost every day. Seated in the front row to Brendan’s left (L to R) are Miles Teller (he plays Brendan in the film), Josh Brolin (Eric Marsh), Jennifer Connelly (Amanda Marsh), and Jeff Bridges (Duane Steinbrink).

In the back row (L to R) are Joseph Kosinski (Director), Taylor Kitsch (Chris MacKenzie), James Badge Dale (Jesse Steed), and Pat McCarty (former Granite Mountain Hotshot, served as a consultant).

The movie opens nationwide October 20, 2017.