SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — 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 Wednesday that he filed the lawsuit in New Jersey federal court on behalf of Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver. He declined to specify how much money his client was seeking.
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.
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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 ... that 'Blaster One,' Sgt. Sarver, is the character in 'The Hurt Locker' called Will James," Fieger said at his office in Southfield. "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."
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."
Boal disputed that James was based entirely on Sarver, and said the film was a work of fiction.
"Jeff is a brave soldier and a good guy. Like a lot of soldiers, he identifies with the film, but the character I wrote is fictional," Boal said in a statement.