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Lt. Col. Greg Gadson talks Battleship

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Lt. Col. Greg Gadson talks Battleship
Posted by Wilson Morales

May 15, 2012

Coming out on May 18th is the epic action-adventure film, ‘Battleship,’ which is based on the Hasbro Game: Battleship.”

Directed by Peter Berg, ‘Battleship‘ is an epic-scaled action-adventure that unfolds across the seas, in the skies and over land as our planet fights for survival against a superior force. Inspired by Hasbro’s classic naval combat game, the film stars Taylor Kitsch as Lt. Alex Hopper, a Naval officer assigned to the USS John Paul Jones; Brooklyn Decker as Sam Shane, a physical therapist and Hopper’s fiancée; Alexander Skarsgård as Hopper’s older brother, Stone, Commanding Officer of the USS Sampson; international superstar Liam Neeson as Hopper and Stone’s superior (and Sam’s father), Admiral Shane, and making her film debut is Grammy Award winner Rihanna as Petty Officer Raikes, Hopper’s crewmate and a weapons specialist on the USS John Paul Jones.

Also in the film is Greg Gadson, who plays Lieutenant Colonel Mick Canales. In 2007, as Commander of the 2nd Battalion, 32 Field Artillery, Gadson was severely wounded by an IED in Iraq, which resulted in the loss of both legs above the knee and a severely damaged right arm and hand.

At a recent Skype session with Blackfilm.com, and other journalists Gadson spoke about his film debut, working with Peter Berg, and the inspiration he’s giving others.

How did you get attached to the film?

Greg Gadson: It’s really pretty simple. Peter Berg called me up at my house one day, and asked if I wanted to be in his movie. Now, some background, two important points. You know, Pete Berg is a big Giants fan, and he had been following my relationship with the New York Giants especially during the 2007-2008 football season. And then I was part of an article on advancements and technologies related to prosthetics, and there was a photo of me in the January 2010 National Geographic that Pete had also seen. And I think that’s what gave him the idea.

What’s the next thing for you? Are you seeking an agent? Are there more movies in the works?

Greg Gadson: Well, we’ll see. If I keep getting good reviews from you all, maybe someone will give me another opportunity. So I’m going to keep all my options open.

You have a lot of scenes with Brooklyn in the movie, and were there any awkward moments or fun times you guys had in between scenes up on that mountain?

Greg Godson: Actually, no. Brooklyn did a wonderful job of allowing me to relax and be ourselves. If I had any nervousness about working with them, because my role was a very physical role, she’s a very strong woman herself. And not just there to support me, but she’d literally sometimes when I would walk somewhere I could put my hand on her shoulder to steady myself and balance myself. She’s quite fit obviously and able to give me a hand. So I think she was great.

How long did you work on that hook that you delivered?

Greg Gadson: Well, it was some practice. I can’t remember the exact time, but the stunt coordinators did have me practice. I will say that I accidentally hit the stunt man in the nose once. So we really were trying to make it realistic.

What was it like working with Peter Berg on the shoot itself?

Greg Gadson: I couldn’t have asked for a better director. You know, this is my first director obviously, but I really like to think of Peter as a coach. I’ve been around sports all my life and Pete really exemplified himself as a coach. And I watched him direct not just myself but other people. And he always was trying to get the most out of everybody using various ways to communicate.

Do you think the movie was a direct portrayal of the brotherhood within the military?

Greg Gadson: I think it does. It does a great job, and really one of the aspects that I’m really impressed with is how they included actual service members from really three or four different generations going back to I think those that fought in World War II or even Korea. So it really did fuse the brotherhood of those that serve in arms together.

Being that this is your first film, what acting and physical challenges did you?

Greg Gadson: The biggest challenge for me was actually getting my emotion into the script. I think as a career Army officer, we’re often trained to hide our emotions or manage our emotions. And so, I wasn’t used to exposing myself, and that wasn’t something I anticipated. So that was probably the biggest challenge for me. The physical challenges really were working here in Hawaii. I honestly hadn’t walked in a lot of off-road terrain prior to coming and working here in Hawaii. So I literally had to devote a lot of my mental energy to making sure I didn’t fall too much. As I said, really trying to pull out my emotions or let my emotions truly come out as I was acting was a significant challenge for me.

Do you actually believe there is intelligent life out in outer space? And if yes, do you imagine them to be more hostile as portrayed in the movie or more peaceful?

Greg Gadson: Well, I would lay odds that there is some other life out there. I mean my universe is awful big, and it’s probably not likely that we’re the only ones out there. And, you know, just as we have on our planet, we’ve got people that are aggressive and people that are not. It’s likely that those same sorts of characteristics are out there. So I wouldn’t be surprised.

Can you list some of your favorite alien invasion movies?

Greg Gadson: Independence Day is probably one of my favorites.

Your prosthetics were showcased in this film a lot. Do you feel that that was inspiration to some of the vets that have been in the same situation as you, that they can do other things?

Greg Gadson: I hope that they get – that’s one of the messages that come across. It’s really about moving forward and letting go of what’s happened in the past. It’s obviously going to make you part of who you are, but your future is always forward and it’s never backwards. And whether I have my legs on or whether I don’t, I don’t think I need them to move forward. But they’re part of my life.

What can you say to help others to be in that same situation?

Greg Gadson: Well, I try to be positive. I wish I could say I’m always positive, but I’m human, and, you know, I have my days. But I do try to take a positive approach to life. I guess kind of back to my last answer. You know, life is forward and I try not to spend a lot of time looking backwards or complaining about something that’s already happened because there is very little you can do about it. And so, if by example just to look forward and just continue to fight and get the most you can out of life.

In the film you had a big line about finding courage. What would you say was the most courageous moment you had during your military times?

Greg Gadson: I think really as I was going through my recovery having to kind of figure out how to get my life back on a positive direction, and not really knowing what was on the horizon. There are not too many scenarios where you envision something like this happening to yourself. And so, you don’t really have a road map to where you want to go or what you’re going to do. And so, sometimes I guess mentally having the courage to be able to go in a direction that is not clear, that’s unknown, and having the faith that everything is going to come out all right.

Do you think that your role in this film is going to help to inspire a lot of your fellow veterans who have been wounded during battle? And do you think that you can use this as a tool to motivate them to do the same kinds of things as you have?

Greg Gadson: I hope that’s an example that you can move forward after something devastating has happened to you. That to me is the true example. It’s not necessarily going to be Hollywood. It’s not going necessarily going to be sport or Olympics. I mean there are so many things in the world it can be. It can be as simple as taking care of your family. It’s really about what you as an individual want to do. And it doesn’t have to be someone that’s wounded. I mean many of the wounds that service members face are unseen, and those are challenges, too, that folks have to move forward to.

What have you learned about yourself in the process of making this film?

Greg Gadson: I would say that I can make myself pretty vulnerable having to expose myself. I wasn’t sure I was willing to do that in this kind of a forum, and that was a challenge. But I took it on and we’re here.


  1. Kathy Hubbard says:

    Dear Sir,
    I am so inspired by your life. You are such a remarkable person. I have a brother who lost his driving leg do to diabetes. He also is remarkable. He had the operation to lose weight but he knew he had to have the evasive surgery where they took most of his stomach. Even before having the surgery he was a man of God. He never gave up. He works his magic as a man of his word and passing the word of our Lord to our church and others who need to hear the word. Our Dad was a retired Command Sergent Major with the United States Army. He was a bomadier on the B17’s. He flew many missions, more than he was supposed to but, even after being shot down twice, he was a great soldier as you were. His name was Eugene W. Coughlin and recieved many medals. Our Dad passed away on 01/10/1999 his 81st birthday. Of course our hearts were broken as well as our Mom’s heart. Mom lasted only 18 months after his passing. Our Dad was a hero, not only in the army but also as a Dad. My Dad lived and breathed the United States Military. If you ever get a chance look up his obituary. I didn’t even have a chance to tell you what he did after the war. Believe me if you have an ounce of patiotism you will listen to his beautiful baritone voice that he had when he sang with the United Stated Army Field Band and Soldiers Chorus. But remember, this was many years ago.
    Sincerely
    Kathleen M Coughlin- Hubbard