The cast of The Kill Team was all smiles as they joked and pranked one another at the film’s Tribeca Film Festival premiere Sunday night (April 28). But on the red carpet, they explained why the true story of a young soldier in the US invasion of Afghanistan witnessing his platoon members killing innocent civilians was a tale that needed to be told.
“I think what [the soldiers] did was monstrous,” said Nat Wolff, who leads the cast as new recruit Andrew Briggman, “but also, if you really get into their story, you realize that they were in a really tough, complicated situation, and they were just kids.”
The picture, which stars Wolff, Alexander Skarsgard, Nerve’s Brian Marc, and Happy Valley’s Adam Long, is based on a 2014 award-winning documentary of the same name.
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Dan Krauss, who directed both films, told us why he felt a scripted version was necessary after producing the documentary.
“The thing about the documentary — a film I’m very proud of, by the way — is it’s a retrospective recounting of what happened in Afghanistan,” Krauss explained. “I think there was an opportunity there to tell the story in a way that felt more immediate, more visceral, more subjective, and to actually place the audience inside the shoes of a young man who has to make an excruciating set of life or death decisions in the blink of an eye.”
Something equally interesting about the scripted film is the characters and actors portraying them. Wolff, for example, gained most of his following appearing in the children’s sitcom The Naked Brothers Band and lighthearted films like Paper Towns. Followers of Skarsgard have similarly watched him play likeable characters in True Blood and The Legend of Tarzan. Yet, in The Kill Team, Wolff takes on the dramatic role of a conflicted soldier, while Skarsgard portrays a corrupt and murderous platoon leader.
“That’s the best thing about my job,” Skargard said of playing his character in the film, Sergeant Deeks. “In his world, he’s not a villain. He believes in what he’s doing. It’s fascinating to go into that headspace and explore that. Not to justify what he’s doing, but in order to play it, you obviously have to believe it.”
Skarsgard further spoke about his challenging-yet-fulfilling portrayal of such a manipulative character for the film.
“It’s almost like a love triangle, and I was really excited to explore that. How between Nat’s character and Adam’s character, they both desperately want Deeks’ approval, and his love in a way,” Skarsgard said. “It was fascinating to explore how Deeks, in a masterful way, can manipulate these guys.”
Wolff and Skarsgard fans hoping to watch the actors play unusually dark roles will have to wait a bit longer, though — a nationwide theatrical release date for The Kill Team has not yet been announced.