One of my favorite actors announced his retirement from film.  Daniel Day-Lewis is done. Sad for the film world and for fans like me. The actor was nominated for two additional Oscars for his roles in Gangs of New York (2002) and In the Name of the Father (1993). He also earned critical acclaim for roles in other films including The Boxer (1997), The Age of Innocence (1993) and The Last of the Mohicans (1992).

Day-Lewis was a master of method acting.  Some actors such as Day-Lewis took acting to the extreme. According to the website Mental Floss, actor Robert De Niro actually got his cab driver’s license while prepping for his role in the Martin Scorsese classic movie called Taxi. He worked 12-hour shifts, and would reportedly pick up passengers around New York City during breaks from shooting.

The actor Val Kilmer, of the great and fun Top Gun movie, spent thousands of dollars producing an eight-minute music video of him singing the rocker’s songs. He memorized 50 Doors songs, and even (allegedly) wore Morrison’s clothes and frequented his favorite Hollywood hangouts.  To me he was believable as Jim Morrison.

Christian Bale lost 60 lbs. for the movie The Machinist and then gained it all back for the Batman Begins movie. Wow.

Most impressive to me was Day-Lewis and I covered this in my article titled, “I will find you! Are you prepared to go all ‘Last of the Mohicans’ for your family?”

~Coming off the movie My Left Foot, after portraying the painter Christy Brown, Day-Lewis was a scrawny pipsqueak. When Director Mann told the studios he wanted to have Day-Lewis in the starring role the studio heads said, “You mean that skinny guy who was in a wheel-chair to play the hero?” The actress Madeline Stowe, before agreeing to play the love interest named Cora, did not want to star with the scrawny actor. She was wrong.

The actor showed up on set muscular and toned after doing six months of body building and conditioning so he could run for distances. Day-Lewis looked the part of warrior Hawkeye but he also did an incredible amount of research for the movie as he prepared for his role.

Director Michael Mann encouraged Day-Lewis to do weapons training at an anti-terrorist camp. Day-Lewis also spent several weeks in the wild surviving on precious little. He learned how to skin animals, fight with tomahawks, build canoes, and make his own shoes out of leather. To this day, he makes high-quality leather shoes, with the skills he acquired. Those who live in NC are familiar with the location of the movie shoot. The movie was made on location around Asheville, in the Blue Mountains of North Carolina and other locations too. Day-Lewis spent weeks living in a North Carolina forest and by the time he was finished training he could fire and reload twelve pound flintlocks on the run. He spent five times a week for six months training to build up his stamina and upper body.~

In The Irish News on Mar 6 1997: Movie star Daniel Day-Lewis drops into Holy Trinity, Belfast boxing gym

Today Day-Lewis continues to make beautiful shoes and he knows how to butcher meat. During filming of Gangs of New York he had a real butcher teach him the craft.

On Instagram and Facebook social media platforms there is a lot to be said for many of the profiles on there. Anyone with enough time, a few props, and the wherewithal can make themselves look like the most awesome ninja ever. Their profiles look great. They look like the most bad-ass killers ever.

There is even a world of stylists who copy the look of SEALs, Police Officers, Cowboys etc. Who here as a little kid didn’t like to dress up and play cops and robbers? Let’s get it straight…

I’m not here to disparage MilSim players, Airsofters or military ‘stylists’ who like to copy the real-deals. If that makes them happy than go for it. Heroes should be emulated and copied however some people keep the good stuff, such as the uniform and the attention, but don’t want the bad stuff that comes with the title.  Training costs time, money, effort and common injuries according to one study about war or being a cop is it brings third degree burns, broken bones, shrapnel wounds, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, nerve damage, paralysis, loss of sight and hearing, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and limb loss. Let’s be very clear about that.

A hero is a person who is “admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” And in that pantheon of studs in the world comes us, the regular-joes. We find a place to fit in. Talking about stolen valor, posing or anything else for that matter isn’t the main concern of my article, rather it is the safety of your family. In the big scope of things it doesn’t matter to me what your role is. I will never knock a person that has a desire to learn.

Actors learn a lot of skills. How to cry on cue, how to fall, how to take a punch, how to project their voice to sound like a confidant man. Many actors get to work with some really good technical advisers. Actors like Tom Hanks and Matt Damon learned what real troops went through during WW II.

According to the film’s press notes  for the film GI Jane with Demi Moore, “We took a very aggressive stance in the training program,” said military technical adviser Harry Humphries. “We tried to show the harassment of the Special Forces training and the skills, including weapons handling, that are taught in that training. We encapsulated a 17-week course into two weeks, so those actors were harassed to hell.”

In order to turn the young cast of Platoon into battle-hardened soldiers, Oliver Stone put his actors through a rigorous, two-week boot camp and they were trained under a Marine and technical adviser named Dale Dye.

One of Dye’s ideas was to put the actors through the closest thing to a real boot camp that he could without killing them. They spent two weeks as soldiers in the Philippine jungle, digging holes to live in, eating from ration cans, carrying real weight, and staying in character. There were no showers or toilets, and everyone had to rotate on night watch. “It’s usually around day two or day three [the actors] realize playtime is over and that this guy is serious,” he recalled.  *See Mental Floss

Some actors get big heads and some stay level-headed. On the website called Thrillist they noted that actor Mark Wahlberg flew off the handle over actors comparing their efforts to those of the real-world armed forces. Tom Cruise anyone?

Emile Hirsch, who also starred in the film Lone Survivor, detailed the extent to which the cast became acclimated with heavy artillery: “When we all first got there to the training with the SEALs, we were on the SWAT range in Albuquerque and first started working with the M4 rifle. The way that the SEALs had it organized was that we were training with live fire rounds with these M4 rifles.” Hirsch claims they blew through thousands of rounds a day during training. “Mark Semos, one of the SEALs who instructed us, said, ‘These weapons systems don’t just kill. They destroy things.’ […] They don’t use that word lightly.”

The world is simply filled with a lot of dangers. What you choose to do with your time is up to you but there are people out there who want to do others harm.  Learn a little or learn a lot. Time constraints are something that affect us but don’t let this deter you from finding a way to learn. Some training may cost you thousands of dollars such as advanced firearms certifications that require you to pay for the ammo and the instruction. However, other training, such as self-defense courses taught at local community colleges are freely given. I promise you, one day you will be grateful for the knowledge you took away from a course because you will one day use it to save a life, I really believe that. Those with a certain mentality will always be the first to respond. Make sure you have the skills in your tool box.

Any of the training you get will build those skills to make you useful in your trade, be it infantryman, protective security, woodsman, or armored guard. Anything you learn is likely to save your life or someone else’s life, especially if you spend any time hunting, camping, or as a member of law enforcement or the military. It will also help you in your role as father, son, brother and whether or not you like Air-soft or the real deal. You may have to perform first aid on an injured player. You never know. Get out there and learn something today.

Here are some things to work on:

  1. Marksmanship Classes
  2. First Aid Classes
  3. Survival and escape Classes
  4. Self Defense Classes
  5. Bushcraft Classes
  6. Land Navigation
  7. Wilderness Survival
  8. Disaster Survival
  9. Adaptability and Flexibility
  10. Concentration
  11. Creative Problem Solving Abilities
  12. Initiative
  13. Leadership Skills
  14. Motivation and Commitment
  15. Oral Communication Skills
  16. Self-Discipline
  17. The Ability to Learn Quickly–AND Correctly
  18. The Ability to Work Independently
  19. The Ability to Work Under Pressure
  20. Time-budgeting Skills
  21. Willingness to Work Cooperatively

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.


By Michael Kurcina

Mike credits his early military training as the one thing that kept him disciplined through the many years. He currently provides his expertise as an adviser for an agency within the DoD. Michael Kurcina subscribes to the Spotter Up way of life. “I will either find a way or I will make one”.

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