Fury 3

Even the interior of the tank, recreated on a gimbal inside a nearby barn, has real pieces. "We’ve got all real pieces, [and] put them inside the tank," explains production designer Andrew Menzles. "We made it a little bigger for the performances, about 10% bigger, but you’d never know." After a firsthand peek inside the reconstructed tank— which included both pin-up photos and someone’s blood spattered on a back wall— we can confirm: it is mind-boggling that five people were fitting inside that space every day.

Everyone gets involved in the effort to keep things authentic, up to the very last minute. Asked about the biggest challenges in keeping the film realistic, Thornton told a very recent story: "Just one second ago, I was looking at the wall, and I see a drain pipe and it had a barcode on it. As they were filming, there was steam coming out of my ears. I was like, ‘There were no barcodes in World War II. Barcodes aren’t cool!’ I took a big handful of mud in one shot, threw it, and I missed. So, I got another one and finally I got it right."

And if things aren’t looking real enough in real life… try putting it in black and white. "Literally every shot in the movie is riffed off of real imagery that we got," says Menzles, pointing to a wall in the production trailer that was completely covered in archival World War II photos. And just to double check that the homage is correct: "[We’ve been] getting the still guys to show me stills of our scenes, turning them into black and white and just making sure that they really feel like the real thing.

The set was a time machine. It was an easy thing to feel just from a single day’s visit, tromping through the mud, past some cows who had been sequestered out of the shot, weaving between tanks that rolled through the pasture with an almighty roar. The lead actors, at a distance, looked less famous than exhausted; the frustration of not being able to speak to them on set was tempered by keeping up the illusion they were simply soldiers desperate to get home. If we can be fooled while standing there in person, iPhone in hand… won’t the illusion up on screen be that much better?

Fury opens November 14.

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