The director of Mark Wahlberg’s hit film ‘Deepwater Horizon’ admits that oil company BP did everything it could to disrupt production on the movie, which explored the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
Peter Berg tells HuffPostUK that, although BP never behaved like an enemy or threatened him while he was making the film, they didn’t exactly help, either.
He says: “They were able to disrupt us, they were able to prevent us from getting on rigs, from getting access to the people that worked on rigs, from the helicopters, and the boats that service the rigs, and some other areas of research that we wanted to use.
“BP especially in Louisiana, is very powerful, they pay a lot of money and put a lot of money into that economy, so it didn’t really surprise me that they were not thrilled to have us make the film. So we just you know, built our own rig and kind of figured out ways of getting around their resistance, but I don’t think it was a surprise to any of us that British Petroleum wasn’t jumping up and down, thanking us for making this movie.”
‘Deepwater Horizon’ takes its name from the oil that exploded on 20 April 2010, when 11 brave men lost their lives trying to fight the fire that followed. When the rig sank, thousands of gallons of oil were released into the Gulf, in what became the US’s worst ever spill and a huge environmental disaster.
The film’s star Mark Wahlberg tells HuffPostUK he was compelled by the personal heroics of the tale.
He says: “When the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the gulf in 2010, there was a lot of talk and a lot of media coverage about the environmental disaster, but not a lot of mention about the 11 people that lost their lives, and we wanted to honour those people.”
Six years later, and BP has accepted its share of the blame, with reparations to the tune of more than $60billion. For Peter, the future, and his film, will herald not more blame-spreading, but instead wider changes to the policies that caused the disaster to happen.
“I don’t think it’s about boycotting BP and you know BP has paid very heavily for this event,” he tells HuffPostUK.
“You see on American television now, as this film gets ready to come out, suddenly there’s ads for BP all the time, talking about how clean they are and how safe they are and I think that’s good. My guess is that the realistic response from not just BP, but all these companies that are drilling you know, hopefully will be to be able to move a little slower. It’s a very complicated job drilling oil, it’s very dangerous, and when it doesn’t go as quickly as they want it to, it costs them more money.
“And that’s what happened in the case of the BP oil spill, they were behind schedule, they were losing money, so they cut corners, they did thing they shouldn’t have done, they didn’t run tests that they should have, hopefully now they’ll run those tests.”
Peter Berg previously worked with Mark Wahlberg on ‘Lone Survivor’, the story of four Navy Seals stranded deep in Afghanistan. For him, ‘Deepwater Horizon’ represents a different type of war, but equally compelling.
He says: “When I read this New York Times piece that was done on the reasons why the rig blew up and then I watched the 60 Minutes piece that focused on the 11 men who lost their lives and I just didn’t know any of that story. I was sort of in the back of my mind thought everyone on that rig was responsible for causing the well to blow up, and when I realised that these 11 men had nothing to do with that, and they could have gotten off the rig and saved their lives, could have gotten in lifeboats, but they decided to stay and try and fight that blowout.
“And they died trying to keep the oil from leaking out into the ocean. And no one knew that. I thought that was a really incredible story.”
Although he doesn’t want the film to spark a backlash against BP and other big-money corporations, Peter certainly encourages a response in cinema-goers to make these huge companies more accountable in line with their power.
“These companies have to be more responsible with the way they behave and we have to hold them to a higher level of responsibility. So that when things happen like happened on the rig, they’re not making decisions solely based on money, because the result can be really catastrophic.”
‘Deepwater Horizon’ is in UK cinemas now.