Brendan McDonough was a member of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew. Twenty men left to fight the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona on June 30, 2013. Only he survived.
His story is now being depicted in “Only the Brave,” out in theaters October 20th.
Hot Topics host Heather Catlin sat down with sole survivor Brendan McDonough and the stars portraying the real life heroes.
McDonough said watching his story on the big screen was surreal.
“To see our brothers’ stories just to get some life breathed back into it for me just brought back so many good memories. I see one and I think of another and was just so comforted by that,” McDonough told Catlin.
All the actors including Miles Teller, who plays McDonough, Jeff Bridges and Josh Brolin agree that what happened is horrible, but their mission is to show the world how amazing these young men were.
“It’s a celebration of who these guys are. The tragedy of what happened doesn’t define them. It doesn’t create their heroism. Their heroism is who they are and what they did day in and day out for your safety,” said Brolin.
Brolin revealed this movie meant more to him than any other movie he’s done.
“I’ve shut myself down to do these interviews,” Brolin said. “It’s very personal for me to be able to put a movie out there that first responders and families are going ‘yes.’ I couldn’t be happier. I couldn’t be more proud of all these guys that let all that ego s**t go away and did what needed to be done.”
All the actors went through a mini hotshot training session led by McDonough and another former hotshot, Pat McCarty.
“They had to wear all the gear all day long. We slept in the dirt. We hikes miles and miles. We worked in extreme temperatures. They learned how to work chainsaws,” said McCarty.
Teller said Brolin was strict on making sure the actors got into the mindset of what it was like to be a true hotshot.
“Josh, we’d have lunch and usually you get in a van and go to lunch. Josh was like, ‘Nope. Let’s go, we’re going on a run,’ and he’d have everyone running two miles just to get food,” said Teller.
McCarty and McDonough agreed that because the actors knew the backstory, they showed up every day and gave 100 percent.
Jeff Bridges said the best thing we can do now, remember these young men who lost their lives and help support their families through the Granite Mountain Fund.
“I’m so pleased the families I’ve spoken to have said ‘you’ve honored this story,'” said Bridges.