EXCLUSIVE | 'The Outpost' star Scott Alda Coffey says the movie's battle scenes were 'a rollercoaster ride'
MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) caught up with actor Scott Alda Coffey in an exclusive where the actor sheds light on prepping to play Sgt Michael P Scusa, the battle scenes and working with Rod Lurie
The opening credits of 'The Outpost' has a major reference to Custer's Last Stand. This isn't the first time the famed cavalry commander has been used as a pop culture reference and a media personality. Director Rod Lurie's war drama is bloody thrilling and intense. The trailer gave us a glimpse of the extreme action the two-hour feature packs and the action that starts around the sixth minute never lets up soon after.
Based on Jake Tapper's 'The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor', Lurie manages to recreate the Battle of Kamdesh and the fact that it is releasing just before Independence Day adds a more patriotic feel to the film. In 2009, 400 Taliban insurgents launched an all-out attack in the Battle of Kamdesh in the Afghanistan War. Combat Outpost Keating situated just 14 miles from Pakistan border fended off regular and constant threats that put their soldiers in grave danger.
Ahead of the film's VoD release on July 4, MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) caught up with actor Scott Alda Coffey in an exclusive where the actor sheds light on prepping to play Sgt. Michael P Scusa, the battle scenes and working with Rod Lurie.
How did the role of Sgt Michael P Scusa come about?
When I first auditioned to portray Michael Scusa, it was a self-tape and I was actually really sick during the audition. I had less than 24 hours to get the tape in and I kept drinking tea between takes to try and clear my voice. It worked out though luckily, I was cast the following week.
What were your initial thoughts on reading the script for your character?
When I first read the script my initial thought was that I couldn't believe I had never heard of this event. It was one of the bloodiest American engagements in the Afghanistan war, and I hadn't heard about it. After that, I knew I wanted to be a part of telling this story. Getting to play an American hero like Michael Scusa was an absolute honor.
Can you take us through the preparation process? Were you familiar with Jake Tapper's 'The Outpost: An untold story of American Valor'?
The very first thing I did when I was cast was read Jake Tapper's book. I was mesmerized by it. It's a really brilliant read. My main goal was to honor Michael Scusa, so one week before I left for Basic Training I face-timed with his wife so that I could learn a little bit about who he was as a person. It was amazing to have that opportunity. Being able to get first-hand accounts of who he was as a person and a father was invaluable and definitely helped me when we got to set. Multiple people who knew him told me he constantly said "It's all good, man" so that was incorporated into the movie.
Can you share your thoughts on Scusa? How did you connect with his character in the film?
I think Scusa was a kind and gentle person who everyone seemed to like. All the people I spoke to, who knew him, said he always had a smile on his face. He was also a huge family man. His family meant everything to him, and I think that was very relatable and easy to tap into.
The battle scenes were choreographed to perfection. We'd be interested to hear how they were filmed.
What was really cool about shooting this film was that it was mostly practical effects. There were things on the ground blowing up around us, and we were firing blanks from our guns. It really helped immerse us in that world. We had military advisors on set making sure that we were as authentic as possible regarding military life. There were fantastic stunt coordinators on the set as well, who helped choreograph the amazing action scenes, and made sure all the actors were safe while performing.
We also had eight days of basic training before we started filming, so that we could learn how to shoot the specific guns we were going to be using, and learn Military protocol. It was all very, very helpful, and a lot of hard work.
What can the audience expect from 'The Outpost'?
It's an action-packed, suspenseful, non-partisan, human story. The battle is a little like being on a roller coaster ride. It's about a small group of soldiers who are alone on a remote Combat Outpost, called Outpost Keating, which was located at the bottom of a valley surrounded by three mountains in Afghanistan. They end up having to battle to defend against an overwhelming force of Taliban Fighters in a coordinated attack. It was later called the Battle of Kamdesh, and it was the bloodiest American engagement of the Afghanistan war.
What was it like working alongside Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood?
It was really great. I had really admired them before, so it was such an honor to get to work with them. They were so nice and down to earth and very easy to work with on set.
Rod Lurie's work is a fitting and emotional tribute to the fallen in the Battle of Kamdesh? Do you agree?
I completely agree. He had so much passion and determination for telling this story right, and honoring all those who fought. He wanted it to be as authentic to the true event as possible. We had military advisors on set, as well as a few of the soldiers who fought in the battle of Kamdesh, a couple of whom acted in the film. I don’t think there was a better person for the job.
What's next for Scott Alda Coffey?
I have some projects lined up that I, unfortunately, can’t talk about yet, but definitely stay tuned. A lot of my time is currently centered around staying healthy and quarantining. But I'm also using this time to educate myself on social justice issues and trying to take daily action, whether it is sending an email, making a donation, attending a meeting via zoom, I’m trying to do my part.