Turning Ashton Kutcher into 'The Guardian' - Los Angeles Times 9/22/06
Turning Ashton Kutcher Into a Water Rescue Hero
"The Guardian's" technical advisor tells how it's done.—
As told to Deborah Netburn
Los AngelesTimes Staff Writer
September 21, 2006
"The Guardian," coming to theaters next week, is a film about a feisty young rescue diver student (Ashton Kutcher) and his older instructor who's coming to terms with getting older (Kevin Costner). It seems like an unlikely pairing of actors, as well as an unexpected choice of disaster profession to portray. "Firefighter" might well be a synonym for "hero" — but what the heck do rescue swimmers do?
Jeff Loftus, a recently retired Coast Guard member and advisor on the film, explained that rescue swimmers are the guys that get in the water with you if you happen to be drowning. "The Coast Guard appeals to people who want to be humanitarians and serve others and go beyond where they think they can go," he said. "Rescue swimming is a draw for people who are extreme and want to go even beyond." He said the 18-week course rescue swimmers have to take is so arduous that only 50% of people who enter it pass. And that's after taking a required six-month training program.
Part of Loftus' job on the film was to advise everybody from the writer to the director to the art department on what would be an accurate portrayal of rescue swimmers. He was also responsible for helping Ashton Kutcher play the part accurately. Here he tells us how to help an actor be a convincing rescue diver onscreen.
- Make sure he has good lines. "I started helping writer Ron Brinkerhoff in 2001 to educate him about the Coast Guard and rescue swimmers. I coordinated visits for him in Kodiak, Ala., and Elizabeth City, N.C., and Cape Disappointment. And we went back and forth on the script to make sure it was technically accurate."
- Get him training early. "Ashton was trained for seven months in advance of the shoot — both swimming laps and going out into the ocean."
- Familiarize him with the gear. "There is different types of gear, but largely in the training gear pool we use shorts, T-shirt, mask, snorkel, booties, fins and a specially designed rescue swimmer vest. You have to train in all that gear so you know what you are doing when you go out."
- Put him through an intense boot camp. "We put on a boot camp for all the actors who were playing rescue swimmer students in the film and immersed them in nine days of intense rescue swimming training. We weren't able to break them because they had to go act the next week, but it was a great taste of what it is like. Ashton was with all these [water] polo players and Olympic swimmers and national swimmers, but he led the pack."
- Make sure his director values accuracy. "I was blessed being able to work with Andy Davis, who took very few cinematic liberties with what would really happen. There was really never an opportunity where we butted heads. He wanted everything to be accurate, from set dressing to props to the language of the radio talk and the relationship between a senior instructor and a student."
"The Guardian" opens in theaters on Sept. 29. On another note, Loftus said the 320 Coast Guard rescue swimmers on active duty at any given time normally rescue 5,000 people a year. Because of Hurricane Katrina, last year they rescued 33,000 people.
Re: Turning Ashton Kutcher into 'The Guardian' - Los Angeles Times 9/22/06
In related news:
A career buff-up
Ashton Kutcher: Pretty-boy TV prankster, tabloid headliner, chivalrous hiker -- action hero?
By Rachel Abramowitz
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 24, 2006
full article at http://www.latimes.com/entertainment...dlines-entnews
WALKING up the dusty Hollywood canyon in 100-degree heat, inhaling great gulps of smog, I begin to wonder if I'm being punk'd. It's not that I'm famous or anything, it's just that my hiking partner is Ashton Kutcher, who created the MTV show where people are subjected to elaborate, ego-puncturing practical jokes — they're punk'd. He's also well known for starring as the dumb brunet on "That '70s Show," headlining such cinematic milestones as "Dude, Where's My Car?," and marrying Demi Moore, who happens to be 15 years his senior, a May-December romance that has kept the tabloids titillated for years.
Kutcher assures me that this jaunt into heat exhaustion is not some elaborate goof. "I'm not that deviant," he says. "I always find it funny that people think they're getting punk'd when I'm around. That's the worst way to punk somebody, right?" He also insists that turning a reporter into a hyperventilating, dizzy, red-faced mass is not an extreme case of passive-aggressiveness either.
Venturing up the hill in the midday sun, he offers some advice. "Hydrate! Hydrate!" It's delivered in his best drill sergeant voice. The 28-year-old former Iowa boy is freakily good-looking in a slightly antiseptic, eternally boyish, Calvin Klein kind of way, with a long, lean figure, sculpted cheekbones and brown eyes bigger than your average doe's.
He arrived on a motorcycle, casually dropped his jeans to reveal gray shorts, strapped on a backpack and bandanna, then began to clip-clop blithely up the hill like a horse out for a casual saunter. He appears to be in good shape — in part because he's just back from his summer house in Idaho, the hills of the oxygen-deprived, and, oh, yes, he recently spent eight months doing six-hour-a-day workouts to get physically ready for his latest role, as a Coast Guard rescue swimmer in the upcoming adventure flick "The Guardian."
Ashton Kutcher, action hero?