Midway. the new World War II drama film about the four-day Battle of Midway, a key skirmish that occurred in the Pacific Ocean in June 1942, just six months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, follows the battle resulted in a victory for the U.S. Navy over the Japanese fleet and marked a turning point in the Second World War.

Director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) and two of the film’s stars, Ed Skrein and Luke Kleintank, discussed exclusively with uInterview the making of Midway, the real life story it is based on and the heroes it honors.

Emmerich — whose films are known for grandiose special effects — explained how it was crucial for him to ensure that the visual effects in the movie were as realistic as possible, so as to fully immerse the audience in the story.

“What you don’t want to have in a war movie is [for] visual effects to take you out of the movie,” said Emmerich. “Here in Midway, it had to look absolutely real.”

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Kleintank — who is known for his roles in Bones and The Man in the High Castle — explained that his character in Midway, Lt. Clarence Earle Dickinson and Skrein’s character Lt. Dick Best were “best buddies” in real life, and compared their relationship to the friendship between Goose and Maverick in Top Gun.  

“He was an amazing man,” Kleintank said of Dickinson. “He was the first naval hero to ever receive three naval crosses. He retired in the Navy as a rear admiral and died in 1984.”

“He was a true hero and paved the way for us,” Kleintank added of his character before saying his favorite part of shooting Midway was getting the opportunity to work with Skrein and Emmerich.

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Skrein, the star of films like Deadpool and Alita: Battle Angel and series like Game of Thronesreiterated how Midway pays tribute to dozens of real-life heroes. The British actor revealed he read and heard dozens of accounts of the acts of bravery the combatants of the Battle of Midway committed and added he believes separate movies could have been made about each of the main characters who fought in the battle.

“In this movie, there’s about ten characters that could have been the lead character,” said Skrein. “There’s so many heroes in the greatest generation.”

Schrein also said shooting on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was among his favorite experiences on the set of Midway. The actor said the gravitas of the location and everything that transpired there was truly palpable.

“We were about 350 extras and 200 people behind the camera,” said Skrein, before explaining that unlike other war movies, working on the set of an Emmerich film is exactly like most people would imagine it would be.

“It is this sort of epic, huge scale and glamor of cinema,” Skrein added. “Everyone’s dressed up in all these amazing costumes, it’s kind of like this ‘Where’s Waldo?’ scene with everyone running around with period wheelchairs, trucks, vans and planes. It was incredible.”

Emmerich noted that the research he and his team performed revealed that many of the American veterans who fought in Midway felt very hesitant about fighting in the conflict and even felt morally compromised at times. The director stressed it was key for the film to portray those more quiet and measured moments where the characters reflected on their actions and decisions.

“These people were really afraid of what they were doing and felt at the time a responsibility,” said Emmerich. “When you read their books, they were not that gung-ho about what they were doing and were not sure if they could do it.”

Midway is in theaters this Friday and also stars Woody Harrelson, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Nick Jonas, Aaron Eckhart, Mandy Moore and Dennis Quaid. 

Midway opens nationwide on Friday.