Funny story: Brooklyn Decker is currently promoting two very, very different movies -- "Battleship" and "What To Expect When You're Expecting." On the day of our interview, Decker was promoting both films. Two points here: (A) I did not know this, and (B) Decker had been mistakenly told that our interview was about "What to Expect." So, yes, my first question was about "Battleship" and her first answer was in reference to "What To Expect." Luckily, we soon figured out the confusion.
In "Battleship," Decker plays the young, pregnant trophy wife of Dennis Quaid.
(Drat, I did it again. Let me start over.)
In "Battleship," Decker plays Samantha Shane, the girlfriend of a young navy lieutenant named Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) -- a man who must save the world from aliens and build up enough courage to ask Samantha's father (Liam Neeson) for her hand in marriage. Here, Decker explains why, if you look for realism in your summer action movie based on a board game, you're doing it wrong.
I feel the less I really think about some of the things that happen in this movie, the better.
I think the biggest thing was to just have fun with it. You know, with these type of movies, for the audience, sometimes you want to stick true to the story -- and, with what I was going through, it was just a matter of having fun and being silly and providing some levity. It's a comedy, no doubt about it. But there's a lot of "real" there as well. There's couple who can't conceive and there's ovulating. You know, this same question could apply to the aliens in "Battleship"...
Wait, I am asking about "Battleship."
Oh! You were talking about "Battleship"!
Sorry, that first statement must have been confusing.
Have you seen "What To Expect"? Because my character is completely ridiculous.
I have seen that movie, too. They are very different.
OK, "Battleship"! We just wanted the audience to have fun. The thing about Peter Berg as a filmmaker ... I mean, it is a movie about aliens. And it is full of a lot of fun, but it definitely has something real to it. In the scene with the old salts -- they're all World War II vets. We used real Wounded Warriors. But as far as having fun and forgetting relate, you have to with alien movies.
After the movie ended, a friend of mine was complaining that a real battleship wouldn't stop on a dime once an anchor is dropped. I feel he might have missed the point.
No, a battleship would not jerk to a stop in a matter of 60 seconds. Do you really want us to show the battleship taking 20 minutes to stop? I mean, that would be really boring. That would be incredibly boring for the audience. Yes, some of it [laughs] -- you have to keep it going. But, obviously, an anchor isn't going to stop a battleship that quickly. If your friend wants, we could do it for real and see if his moviegoing experience would be better.
I'm now imagining this as a 20 minute scene.
Yeah, if he wants us to be true to the actual action, we can do that. But I think it would make for a much more boring film.
The nine hour epic, "Battleship."
On set, is Peter Berg insane?
Oh my gosh, he's wild. He is crazy. He is totally crazy, but the best kind. For some reason, I am one of those people who loves crazy. I get along with crazy people. So, he and I are like two peas in a pod. And he's become a good friend of mine. The guy would literally hide in bushes and fire off machine guns in the middle of a scene so I would get an authentically fearful reaction. He'll go there for his actors. And as an actor, it's fun. You never know what you're going to get with Pete and it's super high energy all of the time.
I loved the scene in which Gregory Gadson, a real life war veteran, knocked out an alien's teeth. That got a huge reaction.
I know. He's wonderful. I love Greg, he and I are actually still friends. What I loved about it, again, is that Pete wanted something that felt real. And no actor knows what it's like to go through fighting a war, losing both of your legs and coming back and having to live with that. No actor can really know what that feels like. And when he was on set, you could never complain, "Life is good, I have it easy, this is great." And he and I got really close, really fast. Because, you know, I was terrified -- this is only my second movie and I had never done anything like this. And I think that made us have this really great filming experience, because we really trusted each other.
Speaking of it being your second movie, has there ever been any negativity toward you? Like, "You don't belong here"?
You know, I am a new actor. I have been studying for a long time, but, you know, I'm only two movies in. To say that I'm an expert in anything would be ridiculous and pompous and it's just not the case. So, I was very nervous going into this.
And you're very well known for your work in another field. Is there a stigma?
I mean, luckily, with someone like Pete, he's known for making really unusual casting choices and having them be successful casting choices. Rihanna in this movie, for example. The entire cast of "Friday Night Lights." Luckily, the people on this set trusted his judgement. At the end of the day, there probably will be a lot of reservations with me coming into acting. You know, that's completely understandable. But, on set, the people see that you're there to work and there to study and put in the time -- you know, no one can fault you for that. And I had an unbelievably supportive crew and cast.
To be fair, when you come on the set, I think people are a little apprehensive at first. I think once they see that you're there to turn it out and you're there to really be new and be open to criticism, I think they're much more welcoming. Luckily, I had a respective cast and crew that were like, "OK, she wants to actually do a good job. She's not here to increase her star by any means, she's here to work."
Your character's name is Samantha, which is a fine name. But I feel you drew the short straw on "cool names" in this movie. Alexander Skarsgard plays a guy named "Stone."
That's true. "Hopper." I had never thought of that. That's very true. Now you're building a little bit of a beef between Pete and I. I really need to take this up with him. But she's kind of all-American girl-next-door, but a little bit tomboyish and tough. And "Sam" sort of fits that. But, yeah, "Raikes," "Stone"... Well, Alex (Kitsch's character) isn't [a cool name], but, then again, he goes by "Hopper."
Which is a cool name.
I didn't mean to create strife.
Yeah, thanks a lot. Everything was going so well.
How many times have you seen this movie?
Well, I screened it once by myself -- which was a horrible experience.
Why is that?
Never watch a movie by yourself in a movie theater. You want to hear the crowd reacting. That was not fun. But I've seen it four times.
The scene that actually resembles a game of Battleship, do the crowds you've seen it with always get that?
I think there's a collective, "Aw, OK." You know, some of the references, people I had mentioned it to didn't really catch on. Like the alien missiles, for example, are shaped like the red pegs on the game. And when they fire and hit the ship, they can hit it, but it won't sink the battleship until the pegs go all the way down the ship. There are a lot of cheeky references to the game. but the most obvious one is definitely the buoy reference. To be fair, everyone is like, "How are you going to make a movie about the game Battleship?" Peter didn't have a lot of responsibilities to the board game, but he wanted to just kind of, sort of tongue-in-cheek, nods to the game in there. He added that in there, but it's not too literal. It's not Rihanna and me playing for two hours and saying "B-4."
Someone who wants to watch a ship stop over the course of 20 minutes might like that.
Mike Ryan is senior entertainment writer for The Huffington Post. He likes Star Wars a lot. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.