Q&A: Lone Survivor Star Alexander Ludwig

Lone Survivor star Alexander Ludwig runs us through the Navy SEALs training from the set of Lone Survivor and shares the wildest moments from working with lead actor Mark Wahlberg. This 21-year-old athletic actor grew up a competitive skier and now represents the fitness apparel brand RYU, (we love them too). For his role in the box office war film, he packed on a lean 30 pounds in a few months. Catch Ludwig play real-life Navy SEAL Shane Patton in Lone Survivor and stay tuned to M&F for more from this rising star.

M&F: How did you get involved with Lone Survivor?

Alexander Ludwig: While filming Grown Ups 2 I got a call from my agent telling me there was this amazing role in this great epic war film based off a book called Lone Survivor. Whenever I had my break from filming, I went into my trailer and I put myself on tape for Lone Survivor. Within that week, I got a call saying Pete Berg, the director, wanted to Skype with me so we had this great conversation about the role and what he was looking for in it. Next thing I knew I was heading to Albuquerque, New Mexico to film Lone Survivor.

What was your initial reaction when you were informed that you would be cast?

I was so excited and flabbergasted to be a part of such an incredible story. It was about telling a story and really honoring the people who fight and die for this country on a regular basis. We wanted to do a great job at depicting how it actually is over there and Pete put all his effort into doing that.

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Tell us about your character in the movie, Shane Patton.

Shane Patton is the youngest of the Navy SEALs in this group and Mark Wahlberg’s apprentice/little brother. In real life, Marcus Luttrell and Shane had a very good relationship and Shane was Marcus’ apprentice. He was this fun, loving character from Nevada who loved his rock and roll music, had a good heart and was eager to go on missions with the guys. He doesn’t get to go but he does wind up being one of the main reasons the whole squadron goes to save the four guys. Shane serves to show the innocence and humanity in the movie.

How did you train before filming Lone Survivor?

I wanted to make this real for my character and I wanted to look like a Navy SEAL so I put on about 30 pounds of muscle, going from 195lbs to 225. I did a lot of heavy lifting and ate like a caveman: steak, vegetables, and lots of protein. I incorporated my own personal ab routine. While lying flat on the floor, do 30 reps of medicine ball V ups. Then, without rest, do 30 Russian twists, left and right is one rep. Keeping your legs up, lie on your back, and do 30 crunches with the med ball on your chest. Repeat the circuits 3 times with a 30 second break in between circuits. I do that everyday. Then, I did a YouTube workout called 8-minute abs for its variety of workouts. I would also swim a lot and do lifts like benching and shoulder presses. For upper body, I did back/biceps one day and chest/triceps another day, alternating for six days a week with Sunday off. 

Next: Ludwig talks about his craziest stories from the set of Lone Survivor >>

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What was your training like for the film?

We had Navy SEALs on the set every day that were constantly training us. We wanted to make this the most real film anybody had ever seen in aspect to how Navy SEALs operate on a day-to-day basis. We would do drills that consisted of workouts like sprints, tractor tire flips, box jumps, bench pressing and I played basketball with my boys. For benching, we would go up ten pounds every set until you can’t do anymore then worked our way down to the start weight. A few of the boys and I would do this regimen while we were on set: every hour we would do 50 pushups. By the end of the day you can’t even do one pushup but you bang out as many as you can on the hour. 

What are some crazy stories you have from the set? 

Mark (Wahlberg) and I were doing a scene together in the gym and we had to improv so he starts telling me to stop being a wimp and push it. He didn’t mean to do this but in the heat of the moment he threw a 40-pound weight at me and it landed on my toe. I didn’t tell anybody at the time and tried to walk it off. He said, “Are you alright? I’m sorry.” I said, “Yeah, dude, you’re all good.” Suddenly, I felt this liquid building up in my boot, took my boot off, a pool of blood poured out. Pete came over to me and said, “OK, we have to call it a day. You need to go to the hospital.” I said, “No, let’s finish this then we’ll go.” We finished the scene, I went to the doctor and my whole toe was cracked. I had no nail for the rest of Lone Survivor. I broke the toe and shattered the nail.

Another story is, Mark and Pete came up with this funny plan and they said, “We have this new scene we want to show” and it was in a meat locker in the middle of the base. They locked me in and let me out after five minutes. There is no way I would have go out of there myself.

How did you get involved with RYU?

I was in Vancouver, Canada trying to find a gift for my parents at a store one of the founders of RYU owns, and I started looking at these clothes that I loved because they were great athletic wear and I was automatically drawn with them. The store owner asked, “Do you like these clothes?” and I said, “Yes, I love this athletic wear, where did you get it from?” He said, “It is a company I have been working with called RYU” and we ended up talking and kept in touch. 

What do you like about the clothing?

You look good in it and you can just feel the quality when you are wearing it. It is different than anything that I have seen in the sense that it is classy looking yet in the mixed martial arts world. I love the name, what they stand for, the way they make their clothes, and we share some of the same values and I’m very happy to be involved. 

What other projects can we expect from you?

Vikings comes out in February and the show has been getting incredible critical acclaim. Our fans are amazing and I’m really excited.