It’s common for a movie watcher to identify with a film character. But it’s far different for someone to feel like he or she is a film character.
When U.S. Army Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver saw “The Hurt Locker,” an award-winning film about an Army bomb squad in the Iraq War, he felt like he was watching his own life play out on screen. Sarver, who is a bomb-disposal expert, sued the filmmakers, claiming they used his likeness and personal experiences as the basis for one of the film’s characters, Will James.
But yesterday, a district court judge found the similarities unconvincing and threw out Sarver’s lawsuit. She also ordered him to pay the filmmakers’ attorney’s fees. According to Sarver’s attorney, he plans to appeal.
Jeremiah Reynolds, a lawyer representing the screenwriter and director of “The Hurt Locker,” told Reuters the ruling was “a huge victory for all filmmakers who should feel comfortable using real life events as inspiration for their films. No artist should ever be forced to create entire fictional worlds that have no basis in reality simply because they fear the threat of meritless lawsuits.”
Screenwriter Mark Boal says “The Hurt Locker” is based on his experiences following a bomb-disposal unit in Iraq. According to Reuters, Boal says the Will James character is based on multiple people, and “for [Sarver] to claim that he was the hero of the movie definitely took something away from all the other guys that I talked to, guys that are contributing on a daily basis.”