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posted: 11/22/2012 6:00 AM

Josh Peck enjoys taking on sacred 'Dawn'

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  • Josh Peck, left, joins Josh Hutcherson and Chris Hemsworth as freedom fighters in the USA invasion thriller remake "Red Dawn."

    Josh Peck, left, joins Josh Hutcherson and Chris Hemsworth as freedom fighters in the USA invasion thriller remake "Red Dawn."

  • Video: "Red Dawn" trailer


'Red' dawns on Peck
Josh Peck, 26, began as a child actor probably best known for his starring role in the Nickelodeon TV series "Drake & Josh." A few movies later, he's now co-starring as a teen freedom fighter in the new adventure "Red Dawn," a remake of John Milius' 1984 adventure starring Patrick Swayze and C. Thomas Howell.

I sat down with Peck at Chicago's Trump Towers for a brief chat.

Q. Did you see the original "Red Dawn"?

A. Yes, but not until after I had done the movie. It just so happened that I had not seen it. The moment it came into my life, and I started reading the script, I was immediately alerted by friends who told me how sacred this movie was to them and how important it was that we not screw up the remake.

Q. Did not watching the original help or hinder your performance?

A. Rather than watch it and be tempted to copy something that I thought worked, I decided to approach it fresh. But the day we finished, I watched the original and saw what everyone loved about the first one.

Q. Which was what?

A. Well, I'm a sucker for 1980s movies. I was born in 1986, but there's still a lot of nostalgia there.

Q. How would you describe your experience working on "Red Dawn?"

A. We had three months of training, then four months of shooting. More than half of a year was centered around "Red Dawn." So now it was the marathon aspect of "Red Dawn." Like, how do I get through this? Sustain my energy? Work these long hours under these conditions? It was strenuous.

Q. What made this shoot different from most action films?

A. Director Dan Bradley, he was a second unit director on action films. He was able to bring us closer to the danger while still keeping us safe.

Q. Like what?

A. There was a scene when we're driving along and a paratrooper comes slamming into our windshield. It was in a controlled environment. On a soundstage and whatnot. I've never been that close to a stunt. I got two stitches in my head from one stunt.

Q. Which one?

A. In one scene, I'm running through a bus trying to save my girlfriend. The gun I'm holding got caught on a seat and wound up bashing me in the head! Leave it to me to turn something completely not dangerous into something that would cause an injury.

Q. This is the first time you've ever used firearms in a movie. What was it like for you?

A. Super fun! Cathartic in some ways. When you're letting that aggression -- these are real guns shooting blanks -- there's an odd sort of fantasy fulfillment that has to do with it. But you still have to be regimented and careful, because these are still deadly weapons, even with blanks. It was just exciting! I don't know anyone, male or female, who hasn't had that fantasy of letting a machine gun roar.

Q. You're a New York actor, so what do you like about New Yorkers?

A. There's this quiet grace about them. You're constantly reading people and reading situations. We'll be the first to jump down your throat. But if you get on our good side, we can be the sweetest people in the world.

Q. Final question. If North Koreans really did invade America, would Josh Peck be the guy people would want in their foxhole with them?

A. No! No way! Unless you want to be entertained. As far as leadership or brute force goes, I'm not your guy.

AHFS plays 'Chicken'
The After Hours Film Society presents "Chicken With Plums," Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's grand French romance about love, loss and regret, a delightful film oozing with magical realism. It plays at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Tivoli Theater, 5021 Highland Ave., Downers Grove. Tickets cost $9 ($5 for members). Go to or call (630) 968-0219.

• Daily Herald film critic Dann Gire's column runs Fridays in Time out!

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