Brad Pitt and his fellow "Fury" stars Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman and Michael Peña, along with director David Ayer, visited Fort Benning in Columbus on Thursday to promote "Fury," the World War II era movie coming out Oct. 17.
The guys got to Fort Benning about 1 p.m. and spent the afternoon at the home of the United States Army's Infantry and Armor Schools.
They took scores of photos with the troops and got to check out four authentic tanks, including a WWII-era Sherman tank like the one their characters operate in the film, and a currently used M1A2 battle tank.
In "Fury," Pitt stars as Sgt. Don "Wardaddy" Collier, who rides herd over a tank crew battling the Nazis and occasionally squabbling with each other. Promotional tours on military bases was a goal from the start, he said.
"We'd sit in the tank and talk about how cool it would be if we could bring it to the actual soldiers," he said. "It means everything for us to bring this back as a tribute. Hopefully they'll agree we got a few things right."
The movie is set in Germany, at the bitter end of the second World War. The Nazis are done for but not giving up.
"It will end, soon. But before it does, a lot more people have gotta die," Sgt. Collier says in one of his many prescient speeches.
Another: “Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.”
This movie certainly hews to the latter. It's directed by David Ayer, who shot "Sabotage" in Atlanta, a movie set in the present day with more modern body parts flying about.
"I looked at thousands of photographs of the war, of the period, of the time," Ayer said. "I didn't want to copy anyone else's film."
He spent time talking to WWII and more recent veterans and "just really tried to build up a portrait of these men."
LaBeouf plays a devout soldier who quotes Scripture before skirmishes and often holds the hands of the dying (and dead).
That somber on-screen gravitas was not on display during the visit to Fort Benning.
Instead, he sprinted about, taking selfies with just about anyone who wanted one, and ferried articles to Pitt to be autographed on behalf of grateful troops. He didn't take any questions.
Lerman, who plays an Army clerk quickly pressed into tank service and Peña, who plays a skilled and seasoned veteran, enjoyed meeting guys in uniform.
"It's an honor to be here," Lerman said. "I really hope everybody appreciates the film. I'm curious about their thoughts on it, more so than everyone."
Pitt, who also took a slew of photos, selfie and otherwise, and also hopped into one of the tanks on display for a little tour, said he related to his character. (A tank commander and a father must both bring about law and order from chaos, of course).
Since the movie was set during WWII we asked Pitt about the painting that he and wife Angelina Jolie have on loan to the Millennium Gate museum in Atlanta. (Details about the piece here).
Do they plan to visit it during the exhibition? His answer, and other comments about the movie, here: