"Black Hawk Down," which tells the story of the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, has become one of the most beloved war movies. We spoke with both Eric Bana, the actor who plays Hoot, and Mark Bowden, the journalist who wrote the original book, and learned a few things about the movie and the real-life events that inspired it.
1. America didn't see it coming.
In 1993, the Soviet Union had collapsed, and the United States won the first Gulf War in a cakewalk. The country (rightfully) saw itself as the world's last great military power, and there was a sense of invulnerability that was shattered by the events in Mogadishu.
2. Mohamed Farrah Aidid wasn't on our radar.
Aidid was strictly a local warlord, a guy with zero international ambitions. He was wreaking chaos in Somalia, and removing him was supposed to be a simple operation. Imagine this: What if American troops were sent into Los Angeles at the height of the crack epidemic to remove Freeway Rick Ross and were pinned down in the crossfire of a Bloods vs. Crips gang war?
Aidid was just a local thug who managed to find the vulnerability in the vaunted Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.
3. "Black Hawk Down" was the first war movie released after 9/11.
It was also the last war movie made before the start of the War on Terror. As Eric Bana pointed out in our interview, the military gave the filmmakers access to gear in a way that would have been impossible just a few months later.
As Americans were processing the fallout of an attack on American soil, "Black Hawk Down" showed U.S. troops regrouping and showing strength and heroism after another surprise attack.
4. Eric Bana helped write Hoot's climactic speech.
As Hoot prepares to head back into battle near the end of the movie, he tells Eversmann (played by Josh Hartnett) just why he chose to serve.
Bana told us that the script originally had him say that he did it because of "duty, honor, and love of country" but, after weeks of filming, that line no longer felt right to him. With encouragement from director Ridley Scott and screenwriter Ken Nolan, Bana tried out the version of the speech that we've all come to love, the one that made this movie a classic.
5. Mark Bowden almost didn't get to tell the story of "Black Hawk Down."
Bowden was a reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer when he started researching the story on his own dime. He only got to devote the time to finish it because The New York Times made him a job offer, and Bowden negotiated the freedom to do the story as a condition of staying with the Inquirer.
Even then, almost every publisher in New York turned him down, and he got only a small advance when Grove/Atlantic decided to take a chance on the book. Once the newspaper started running his articles, readers were electrified, movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer bought the film rights, and the book became a huge best-seller.
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