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Turning Ashton Kutcher into 'The Guardian' - Los Angeles Times 9/22/06

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  • 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.
    1. 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."
    2. Get him training early. "Ashton was trained for seven months in advance of the shoot — both swimming laps and going out into the ocean."
    3. 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."
    4. 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."
    5. 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.
    "If you don't know how to draw, you don't belong in this building" - John Lasseter 2006

  • #2
    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
    "If you don't know how to draw, you don't belong in this building" - John Lasseter 2006


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