Mark Wahlberg plays gun-toting heroes all the time, but in "Lone Survivor," he's portraying a real-life Navy SEAL in the midst of a disastrous mission in Afghanistan — a role that was a real eye-opener for the actor.
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As Walhberg (who was joined by co-stars Emile Hirsch and Taylor Kitsch) told TODAY's Matt Lauer Monday, telling the story of Marcus Luttrell, who survived that mission, was a "very special experience." But it left him emotionally raw, and during a post-"Survivor" screening last month, he ranted to the audience about actors who compared their jobs to that of soldiers.
After watching the movie with Luttrell, he told Lauer, "I was overwhelmed with emotion to think about what he had experienced and what those guys who never came off that mountain experienced. And then (to) have someone whisper in my ear, 'Oh, by the way, somebody said it's like going to war....'"
He sighed. "I was guilty of it, too; I mean, I've sat here on this show talking about, 'I trained four and a half years to become a fighter' — it's nothing like what these guys do. This is real life stuff. We have the luxury of going home, having a shower, having a meal, sleeping on a warm bed. Yeah, we get up there and do it again and it's difficult for us, but it doesn't measure up to what those guys do."
"Lone Survivor" opens in theaters on Christmas Day in New York and Los Angeles; it will go nationwide on Jan. 10, 2014.