Lieutenant colonel Greg Gadson is not only an actor in one of this Summer's biggest action movies, he is a real American hero. In 2007, while the decorated Army commander was stationed in Iraq and returning from a memorial service for two fellow soldiers, his car was hit by a roadside bomb. He lost both his legs in the accident and his right arm and hand were severely damaged. Since then, Greg's story of recovery and triumph over challenge has become an inspiration to many, and he's shared his journey with thousands of people as both a public speaker and the director of the US Army's Wounded Warrior program. Battleship director Peter Berg was among those touched by Greg's experience, and made it his mission to track him down for the role of Lieutenant Colonel Mick Canales in the film. The first-time actor didn't shy away from the challenge and, when we sat down with him at a recent press day for the film, he told us he even requested to do his own stunts. Hear more about Greg's remarkable story in our interview and see him in action when Battleship hits theaters May 18!
They end up using the full page picture of me wearing these power prosthetics and he said he saw that picture. I realize they brought in a stunt double and all that and I was like hey, let me try, let me see if I can do this. So, I'm really interested to know how Peter Berg learned your story and then tracked you down. Well, Peter is from New York and a huge New York Giants fan so really my Relationship with the Giants was how he was first made aware of me during the Giants 2007-2008. season, and then as fate would have it, there was a National Geographic in January of 2010 that did an article on the advancements of prosthetics and various pieces there. I was one small part of the article, but they ended up using full page picture of me wearing these power prosthetics and Pete said he saw that picture and I think that's when the idea was really kind of formulated in his head. When he got in touch with you did you have any reservations about how the military and service men and women might be portrayed that he had to put at ease? No, I didn't. Honestly, because I was so new to this, I'm not sure I even thought that broad. But I'll tell you this, Pete, even being a literal novice, I've seen him with other people and even myself, willing to listen to our opinion. There were times when I said, I would say something this way, or I wouldn't do that. He was always open minded to hear our opinion. I am sure that he was probably like that with the Navy, because he wanted to be authentic and that was important to him. When we first meet your character, Mick, he has a lot of bitterness and anger. There's a lot of honesty in that role, so could you relate a little bit to that as your journey went on? I could, Mick is having to come to grips with what his new normal life is, and he's frustrated that he's not going to be the man that he wants to be or he thinks he wants to be because he's lost his legs. And he's harboring a lot of that anger. You have a great fight scene in the movie too, and I know you said that in a way that was a really good experience to prove something to yourself, what did you get out of that? At first I was just thankful that they allowed me. I realize that they brought in a stunt double and all that. And I was like, hey, let me try it, let me see if I can do this, and if it doesn't work out then we've got the stunt double. Of course, it was always easier to have the actor do it, too, because it's less work on the editing part, but it was a challenge It was a challenge to act, it was working in tough terrain out in Kuloa out in Hawaii. So there were lot of, a lot of different levels, even through my own personal recovery, which I think is still ongoing I believe that I'm still recovering in a lot of ways because I continue to have new experiences in my life, you're always learning.