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Generation Kill: the other side of the story

By Nickie Wang/ Manila Standard Today

It got the whole world’s attention, and we have heard different stories of people, civilians and servicemen alike, about the military invasion that led to the second Gulf War or more popularly known as the Iraq War.

So many questions have been asked about the real motives of the world’s most powerful nation in invading the oil-rich Middle Eastern country. The first 40 days of the invasion that started on March 20, 2003 is said to be the most crucial phase of the still ongoing conflict because it was the point when allies and enemies were named.

The US-led multinational military force included troops from the United Kingdom, Australia, Spain, and other countries including the Philippines.

So much about the drama that earned both sympathy and disapproval, a mini-series focusing on the first 40 days of the 2003 Iraq War has been produced. It aims to retell the historical and high-profiled armed dispute in a different perspective.

Generation Kill, a story based on the award-winning non-fiction book of the same name by Evan Wright, is a candid and realistic retelling of the early weeks of the military campaign. Wright is a Rolling Stone correspondent assigned to the First Recon’s Bravo Company’s second platoon during its last weeks in Kuwait.

Currently airing on Max Channel (formerly known as Cinemax), the seven-part HBO mini-series is supported by real events, real names, and precise dialog reported by Wright. Every effort is made to recreate Wright’s account of the Marines riding from the Kuwait border into the slums of Baghdad. Real Marines, who also became part of the series as cast members and advisors, were on the set to help maintain the production’s authenticity.

“Generation Kill gives an objective view of what happened [during the Iraq war] without politics or agenda. It’s the lives of these individuals. The war is just the backdrop,” says Eric Kocher, a Marine who served as key military advisor to the production.

The man in quagmire

An ensemble cast of up-and-coming stars is introduced in Generation Kill: Alexander Skarsgard (HBO’s True Blood) stars as Sgt. Brad “Iceman” Colbert; Lee Tergesen (HBO’s OZ) is Evan “Scribe” Wright; Jon Huertas (Hot Tamale) plays Sgt. Tony “Poke” Espera; and Stark Sands (Day of the Dead) plays Lt. Nathaniel Fick. Eric Kocher; and James Ransone (HBO’s The Wire) plays Cpl. Josh Ray Person.

In a phone interview with Ransone, the actor answered questions about the series where he plays a 22-year-old driver of a military vehicle called Humvee. The actor shared his thoughts about doing the mini-series together with what he considers as a superb cast.

“What’s funny is that I’m not very tall. I had to make elaborate actions because I don’t look like a soldier or a Marine at all. I’m just a small guy but in the series my duty is to drive a big vehicle that takes military personnel from base camp to the battlefield,” the actor said.

Ransone explained that completing all the physical and acting requirements was rewarding on his part. He added that to overcome such physically intense and demanding role made him realized that he can do better than just showing his sarcasm.

“My role is not far from my personality in real life. We have a lot of similarities; I think one is my sense of humor. I’m also a very sarcastic person, I don’t spend a lot of time with people to tell them ‘shut up’ so I just do it with elaborate words,” Ransone quipped.

According to the 30-year-old actor, the bond that has built among the cast members reflect on how they deliver their lines and how they treat each other while on the set. Ransone, better known for his role in another HBO series The Wire, furthered that he has found a new set of friends after shooting Generation Kill.

“We still see each other. That’s the good thing when you’re able to build a good relationship with your co-actors. Some people don’t see each other anymore after a certain project. They are called Hollywood friends, but the people I worked with in this mini-series are people that I still talk with until now. We even still see other. They are my favorite actors,” he detailed.

The war according to the actor

Generation Kill is a story of servicemen at the forefront and often working in uncertain conditions with little protection except their lightly-armored Humvees. The Marines were confronted by the reality associated to a military invasion: insufficient supplies, conflicting orders, cryptic combat strategy, unknown enemy, insurgency and civilians caught in the middle.

“I personally do not believe in wars. I can say that I don’t really believe that any military invasion will do any good. My concern is, look at the state of the country [US ], we have many bigger issues than invading a foreign land. It’s like raking your own backyard while your house is on fire,” the actor exclaimed.

Generation Kill is executive-produced and co-written by David Simon and Ed Burns (The Wire). Simon and Burns also share co-writing credits with Evan Wright, the erstwhile Rolling Stone journalist who also served as a consulting producer throughout the production and editing of the mini-series. Susanna White (Bleak House) and Simon Cellan Jones (The Trial of Tony Blair) share the direction.

Two episodes of Generation Kill premiere back-to-back every Sunday. The first two episodes were shown on June 7 at 9 p.m. on MAX. The final episode will air on June 28. Log on to cinemaxasia.com for more play times.