An Army bomb disposal expert who served in the Iraq war is suing the makers of "The Hurt Locker," claiming the Oscar-nominated film's lead character is based on him and that they cheated him out of "financial participation" in the film.
Attorney Geoffrey Fieger said yesterday that he filed the lawsuit in federal court in New Jersey on behalf of Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver. He declined to specify how much money his client was seeking, The Associated Press reports.
Sarver, of Clarksville, Tenn., claims screenwriter Mark Boal was embedded in his three-person unit and that the information he gathered was used in the film, Fieger said. The film is nominated for nine Academy Awards, including best original screenplay.
Sarver says Will James, the film's main character (portrayed by Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner), is based on him and that James' call signal, "Blaster One," was uniquely his during his tours of duty, Fieger said. Sarver also says he coined the phrase "The Hurt Locker." Fieger said Boal's embedded reporting - over 30 days in 2004 - led to an article the following year in Playboy magazine about Sarver, and that the story later was adapted by Boal for "The Hurt Locker" screenplay.
"If you do take the time to read [the Playboy article] and if you then go and view 'The Hurt Locker,' you will see - and there will be no question in your mind - that 'Blaster One,' Sergeant Sarver, is the character in 'The Hurt Locker' called Will James," Fieger told reporters at his office in Southfield, Mich. "The caveat in the movie that the movie is fictional and all the characters portrayed in the movie are fictional is a fictional statement in and of itself."
Sarver, who attended the news conference, said he could have helped out with the film but its makers never offered him the chance.
"[I'm feeling] just a little bit hurt, a little bit felt left out," Sarver said.
The movie's U.S. distributor, Summit Entertainment, issued a statement saying it hopes "for a quick resolution to the claims made by Master Sgt. Sarver." "The film is a story about heroes depicting a fictional account of what brave men and women do on the battlefield," the company said.