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Garret Hedlund: Big Brother to young soliders in “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”

One of America’s most sought-after actors, Garrett Hedlund (Troy, TRON: Legacy, Pan) now stars as Dime in Oscar-winner Ang Lee’s emotionally charged war film, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (opening Nov. 9 in Philippine cinemas).

Based on the acclaimed bestselling novel by Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is told from the point of view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, becomes a hero after a harrowing Iraq battle and is brought home temporarily for a victory tour. Through flashbacks, culminating at the spectacular halftime show of the Thanksgiving Day football game, the film reveals what really happened to the squad – contrasting the realities of the war with America’s perceptions.

“Dime, along with Shroom, is one of Billy’s sergeants,” says Joe Alwyn who plays the title role. “In Iraq, Shroom became one of his best friends. And Dime, for whatever reason, initially gives Billy a hard time and isn’t his biggest fan. And then he sees this quality in Billy that separates him from the other boys. So over the course of being in Iraq, and especially the day at the stadium, his relationship with Dime changes hugely, and Billy grows into not quite replacing Shroom but stepping into his shoes so that when they go back to Iraq he can help Dime, as he says, keep these clowns alive.”

“After Shroom is killed, Sergeant David Dime is surrounded by a group of younger privates and specialists,” says Garrett Hedlund. “He is now their older brother, their father, their mentor, their guide, their saving grace, the voice of reason. They have to trust him and he has to trust them to have his back going into these insanely dangerous terrains to complete these missions.”

While slightly older than the rest of the surviving Bravos, Dime is also different from the other soldiers because of his more privileged background and the fact that he went to college. “Dime is the quiet leader of the troop,” says producer Stephen Cornwell. “With the death of their other sergeant Shroom in Iraq, Dime is the guy who is holding it together. He is the quiet strength at the center of Bravo. He has emotions that he controls; he doesn’t show much, but at the same time, he has this absolute leadership. And he recognizes in Billy’s own quiet way someone who is also ready to share that mantel with him. The character of Dime calls for a deeply subtle performance. With this quiet force comes a wry observation of humanity around him. He very rarely lets his own emotions show but there are these great flashes where you get to see Dime’s bite. And Garrett is fantastic.”

“I really like the way Garrett brings the character to life,” says Military Consultant Mark Wachter. “The NCO, non-commissioned officer, the sergeants, are the backbone of the Army. They lead from the front. When there is uncertainty you look over to your sergeant, you see how that person is and carries himself and that’s what gives you confidence. And I think as Dime, Garrett exemplifies that role. And he also exemplifies this kind of new warrior poet. You know he’s got a little education. He’s from a wealthier family. And when he talks he has wit and some intellectual ability to draw upon that I’m hoping will surprise the audience. He’s not the good old simple country person that a lot of people think populates the military. By calling him a new warrior poet I mean that he questions the right things but ultimately understands his responsibilities.”

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.


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