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Video/Q&A: 'Red Dawn' star Josh Peck

(Lenny Gilmore / RedEye )
November 19, 2012|Matt Pais, @mattpais | RedEye movie critic

In reality, “Red Dawn” star Josh Peck says, Twitter would be the No. 1 communication tool during a foreign invasion.

“#holy[bleep],” says the actor, best known for Nickelodeon’s “Drake and Josh” series and films including “The Wackness.” “#OhMyGodWe’reAtWar. #I’mSo[Bleeping]ScaredRightNow. [Laughs.] It would be intense.”

In the remake of the 1984 cult favorite opening Friday, Twitter’s not an option. High school quarterback Matt (Peck), his older brother/Marine Jed (Chris Hemsworth), Robert (Josh Hutcherson) and others have only their courage and loyalty to each other to help them fight an army of North Koreans who fly into Spokane, Wash. The new “Red Dawn” was filmed in 2009 and signifies the rare action movie that emphasizes character and on-the-ground combat over 3-D effects and CGI battles.

Over breakfast at Brunch in River North, the 26-year-old New York native talked about how he’d react in an invasion, bleeding on the set and his desire to remake “The Mighty Ducks.”

The movie presents such an extreme situation. How do you think you would react if this really happened?
I’d be dead. I’m pretty sure. I don’t know if I’m exactly in a position to help protect anything. I hope that they would be able to use me in some sort of USO fashion. [Laughs.] Entertaining the troops, distracting them as they’re fighting and whatnot. I think in pretty much every respect that’s what I would be best at.

They’re like, “The war just started, Josh, stop trying to say you want to do stand-up. They’re in the middle of fighting.”
Exactly. I’d be like, “Listen, they need some sort of entertainment while they’re having their mid-day lunch.”

“If everyone can just cease fire ...”
“Is this thing on? How ’bout that mustard gas, huh? How come mustard has the condiment monopoly on warfare?”

You weren’t hugely into sports growing up. How much training did you have to do to be a high school quarterback for “Red Dawn?”
I got put in football training for a week. This movie was like boyhood fantasy after boyhood fantasy come true between military training and being with Navy SEALs and Marines. Thank God I had this brilliant double who was an arena football [player]. If at all I come across cool it’s because of him … I think there was even a play where I forgot to line up behind the center. I lined up behind some outside lineman. My center was this 340-pound black man, and the lineman I got behind was like 220-pound white dude. They were like, “Um, there might be a clear distinction in who you should be getting the ball from.”

So is it half you and half the double in the movie?
Absolutely … People that are the best seem to be quite at ease, or at least that’s what they project is being super comfortable and ready for anything, and watching quarterbacks on TV and looking at some of the greats I found that they have this ease about them. Because literally they’re the guys when time is ticking down that it falls on their shoulders. I don’t think they can be bugging out at the last moment. So [I tried for] some of that swagger—I don’t know if I accomplished it, but it felt good in the moment.

Did you try to model that after any particular quarterback?
No quarterback in particular because I don’t know, are there any Jew quarterbacks? [Laughs.]

I wish.
I know, right. Is there like the Sandy Koufax of the NFL?

I’ve thought about that. Same with basketball. We don’t have much representation.
I guess we don’t. There was a couple of guys in the NHL.

And baseball primarily.
Baseball for sure. We got a couple homeboys out there. You never know, they might recruit some kid from Haifa. [Laughs.]

Anything’s possible. You wound up with a scar and some stitches. What were those incidents like, and what was going through your head at the time?
Well I got two stitches here [near his left ear] because there’s a scene where I’m running to go save my girlfriend in the movie, and the gun that I’m holding caught on the end of a seat and wound up knocking me in the head. And there’s blood coming down and I was like, “Let’s go again.” And they were like, “Why don’t you try the hospital first?” So now I’m in the Detroit trauma center and the doctor looks at me he says “What happened?” I said, “For real, doc?” He was like, “Yeah.” I said, “I was running down a school bus with an AK-47 and it hit me in the head.” He’s like, “Oh, third one today. So, are you an extra?” I’m like, “Let me assure you, I’m a pretty big deal, bro.”

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