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‘Only the Brave’ stars discuss playing fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots

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PHOENIX — The stars of “Only the Brave,” the upcoming film about the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who lost their lives in the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire, discussed the challenges with portraying the fallen firefighters.

Actors Josh Brolin, Miles Teller and James Badge Dale, country star Dierks Bentley and former Granite Mountain Hotshot Brendan McDonough talked to KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James on Tuesday, when the film premiered in Tempe.

Listen to the star’s experiences below, in their own words.


Josh Brolin

Brolin, who lived in Prescott and worked as a volunteer firefighter in the state, said he understood how close the hotshots were and wanted that to come across on the silver screen.

“For the people in Arizona, for the people in Prescott, it’s a very personal experience to them. It’s unlike the kind of movie-going public at large,” he said.


Dierks Bentley (Soundtrack)

Bentley, who was born in Phoenix and resides in Tempe, had his song “Hold the Light” featured in the motion picture. Bentley said the 2013 incident was personal for him.

“The more you travel, the more you feel tied to your hometown,” he said. “So when something happens to your home state — and these guy’s community and something that you’re real familiar with — it hurt.”


Miles Teller and Brendan McDonough

McDonough, a former Granite Mountain Hotshot, said he and Teller, who played McDonough in the film, built up an organic relationship during the film’s production.

“He felt a duty to me to say, ‘hey, he would do it like this,’ you know. And that relationship was formed through just continuing to have conversations in an organic way,” he said.


James Badge Dale

Dale, who stars in the film, said he first became aware of the incident from a two-page article in the New York Times.

“Whenever you play a real person, there’s a different type of responsibility,” he said. “And the story is a special story, as we were just talking about. I was in New York the week of the Yarnell Hill fire. And the New York Times’ Fernanda Santos did a two-page article on them and how hard they worked to become a tier-one firefighting crew.”

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