Luke Benward on being held captive in ‘Wildcat’

Photo courtesy of Saban Films.
Photo courtesy of Saban Films.

Luke Benward stars as Luke in Saban Films’ new movie Wildcat. He plays Luke, a soldier who was captured and is being tortured into giving up information.

Synopsis: An ambitious reporter (Georgina Campbell) stationed in the Middle East is taken captive after a militant group ambushes her convoy. Convinced that the young woman is hiding her true identity, they’ll stop at nothing to extract information crucial to the success of their upcoming terrorist attack.  With time running out, she must find a way to survive and turn the tables on her assailants.

In addition to Luke, Wildcat stars Georgina Campbell, Ibrahim Renno, Mido Hamada and Ali Olomi.

Wildcat was directed and written by Jonathan W. Stokes.

What drew you to Wildcat?

Luke: When I first read the script, I was really impressed with what was on the page, the dialogue that Jonathan wrote was just so layered and natural and human. It was so unbiased and so challenging. When I got done, I was just like, ‘wow,’ like I was just impacted by what he created and so that’s obviously kind of the first thing I look for. I want to make art, I want to make things that change the world. And I think that’s a very cliche way to put it but that makes people think, it forces people out of their box and feel. And that’s what it did to me and then I met Jonathan and he’s a phenomenal collaborator, he listens to your opinions and still maintains his vision. It was a wonderful process.

Can you explain how you get into character to play Luke?

Luke: It was interesting for sure. And I guess this was the thing that tripped me up and that I really needed to understand because obviously I’m not a soldier and like I could do my best and gather knowledge and insert myself into these positions as best as possible but it’s not the same. The thing that I wanted to really hone in on was the idea that some people, despite their training hold up under pressure on hold up under torture and some don’t. And what was different about Luke that allowed him to hold up for so long, I honed in on this line he has which is, ‘I don’t want to die for nothing.’ That to me, was the defining factor, that he was holding up under this torture and this pressure out of a sense of loyalty, undying loyalty and duty to the people that he considered family and people that he held dearest whether it be the family he has back home that he initially went to war to fight for or the family that he made in training, his brothers and sisters in armed forces. So, that became the tie between us… That and staying zoned in and focused on set. And telling the other actors to be a little bit more rough certainly helped.

Photo courtesy of Saban Films.
Since your character gets beat up quite a bit, was it hard to maintain that relationship with the actors off screen?

Luke: So, Ibrahim (Renno) is the guy who’s the one who’s dragging me in and out of the room most of the time, you know, kicking me a few times, all that kind of stuff. He’s the one who, I’m pretty sure he’s almost all the time the aggressor with my character. And he’s one of the sweetest dudes, he would always ask me if I’m okay and I’d always be like ‘dude, you’re good. I promise.’ It was very easy to talk with him, he was awesome. But honestly I kind of got the good end of the stick, most of my torture scenes were me being thrown out of the room and Georgina was most of the time tortured on camera. She had really tough stuff.

Were you on set when Georgina filmed all of that?

Luke: I was on set for some of it but most of the time by that point, I would go home. I kind of wanted to be surprised, though, like I knew it was coming but, you know, just about half of this movie, I’m not in and I could actually experience in real time.

What was it like working with Georgina?

Luke: Oh, it was awesome. She’s so talented. We both came to play, you know, we both knew we were getting into. And we’re both excited for the process and to fully dive into these characters. And we both were on very similar eating plans and obviously we’re going through very similar stuff throughout the day and we were able to really connect there and be there for each other. We both came to give 110 percent. So, whether it was me on camera or her on camera, we were both giving it our all and that really came through on camera. I’m proud of what we did. Anything less than 110 percent would have been a disservice to what Jonathan created.

Photo courtesy of Saban Films.
Earlier you mentioned that you like projects that kind of create change, what do you hope the audience takes away after watching this film?

Luke: I think that’s one of the beautiful things about what we created, you know, all great artis ts subjective. It’s because of these very different views that I think it’s vitally important story to tell. It’s a movie that I think lives in the gray area. There are these two sides and you have Georgina in the middle and neither one of them, I think, are all good or bad. I think Luke might be depicted as more of the good guy but he has these negative qualities and these bad sides of him that shine through and then Mido (Hamada)’s character, Abu, is kind of the opposite but very synonymous with bad in the sense of, he is maybe depicted as the bad guy. You get into the film and you learn about him, you realize that he is somewhat of a victim of his circumstances and that he isn’t bad. He has had a lot of hate and a lot of bad things, thrust upon him and you know what we’re seeing in this is kind of a product of all that.

Part of this film is in Arabic and there are no subtitles. Did you learn what they were saying?

Luke: No I did not, and I did that on purpose, I know that Georgina kind of looked into it because her character is well versed in that, but I just felt that even if Luke did have minimal training in the language, he probably would not have applied himself the way he would have needed to. So, I did want to be a bit ignorant to what they were saying and be a little bit more reliant on her to give Luke that information throughout the story.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Luke: It’s a powerful piece and I’m so very proud of it. I’m stoked for people to see it.

Photo courtesy of Saban Films.
Wildcat hits theaters April 23 and will be available On Demand and Digital April 27.