A U.S. Army bomb disposal expert has filed a lawsuit against the makers of the Oscar-nominated movie The Hurt Locker, claiming that screenwriter and producer Mark Boal based the movie’s main character, Will James, on him. Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit in a U.S. District court in New Jersey on Tuesday, alleging that “The Hurt Locker motion picture and DVD are nothing more than an exploitation of a real life honorable, courageous, long serving member of our armed forces, by greedy multi-billion dollar ‘entertainment’ corporations.” Among those named in the suit are Boal, director Kathryn Bigelow, distributor Summit Entertainment.
At a news conference today, Sarver’s lawyer said that the article Boal wrote about Sarver for Playboy in 2005 was later adapted for the scribe’s Hurt Locker screenplay and that situations in the movie labeled as fiction were accounts from Sarver’s real-life experiences in the field. Sarver also claims that he coined the phrase “The Hurt Locker” for Boal.
In a statement responding to the suit, Summit said, “We have no doubt that Master Sgt. Sarver served his country with honor and commitment risking his life for a greater good, but we distributed the film based on a fictional screenplay written by Mark Boal. We hope for a quick resolution to the claims made by Master Sgt. Sarver.”
The lawsuit, filed the same week as the Oscars, comes one day after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences denied Hurt Locker producer Nicolas Chartier entry to the show, ruling that an email he sent encouraging people to vote for his film, and disparaging fellow Best Picture contender Avatar, violated the Academy’s strict campaigning rules.