‘Intense’ story behind most horrifying scene in new blockbuster Civil War

Space-Separated Links

URL URL URL URL URL URL


WARNING: Civil War spoilers below.

Director Alex Garland’s latest film Civil War, in cinemas today, is a grim, anxiety-inducing experience from start to finish – but one scene in particular will likely stay with you long after the credits roll.

Set in a not-too-distant future America that has been brought to its knees by civil war, the film focuses on war photojournalist Lee (Kirsten Dunst) and her colleague Joel (Wagner Moura) as they embark on a perilous cross-country road trip in pursuit of the ultimate story: An audience with the president in the White House before he is surely soon overthrown and killed by approaching forces.

Their journey to Washington DC is unrelentingly dangerous, with the threat of violence in the air at every stop, but most horrifying of all is their deadly encounter with a small group of nationalist militia soldiers.

Together with the other members of their travelling group, Lee and Joel stumble upon the armed soldiers just as they’re emptying a truckload of bodies into a giant pit. Soon, the journalists are on their knees, begging for their lives.

The head soldier is played by actor Jess Plemons – Dunst’s real-life husband – in an absolutely chilling performance.

“There’s some kind of misunderstanding here – we’re American, OK?” Joel pleads in the film, leading to the most memorable moment seen in the movie trailer.

“OK … well what kind of American are you?” Plemons’ character demands, machine gun drawn. “You don’t know?”

He’s only in the film for one short scene, but Plemons’ performance is a menacing highlight of Civil War. And incredibly, he wasn’t even meant to be in the film in the first place – he was only on set looking after he and Dunst’s two children.

“During our rehearsal, the actor that was supposed to play that role fell out,” Dunst revealed in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

“And after Alex got off the phone, I was like, ‘Jesse’s here.’ So they talked about it, and [Jesse] did us a favour, because — even though it’s a very impactful and difficult role to play — who really wants to play that role?”

In another interview with The View this week, Dunst admitted she “felt bad” dropping her husband in to play such a horrific character.

“I felt bad I signed him up for that role, but I did. It’s a very, very, very intense scene. I mean, he plays a brutal racist in that scene,” she revealed.

In the scene, Plemons’ character violently targets the non-American members of the group of journalists – something that Brazilian-born actor Wagner Moura revealed on The View had made it a particularly difficult scene for him to shoot.

“It was hard,” he admitted.

“I had read the scene before and was like, ‘This is a very strong scene.’ But I wasn’t expecting it to hit me so hard when I had Jesse asking me for two days, ‘What kind of American are you?’”

“It summarises lots of things: racism, anti-immigration feelings, xenophobia, all of that is also a result of this polarisation. So it was very hard for me. In the end, we shot it for two days [and] when we wrapped … I laid down in the grass and I was just crying.”