ComingSoon spoke with operation sea lion director Steven Luke on his World War II film starring Dolph Lundgren, Frank Grillo, Hiram A. Murray, Andrew Stecker and Apostolos Gliarmis. Released in theaters and on demand on October 7, it will be released digitally on October 25, 2022.
“In the final days of World War II, Germany, desperate for one last attempt to defeat the Allied powers, searched for its last remaining weapons and soldiers,” reads the synopsis. “The German Navy and the last remaining U-Boats formed together for one last mission to attack the Homeland of the United States. Captain Hans Kessler (Lundgren), a grizzled submarine commander from both world wars, is called into duty to help turn the tide of war. The mission would soon be known as Operation Seawolf.”
Tyler Treese: You wrote the script and also directed Operation Seawolf. Tell me a bit, and I know you’ve done other movies about World War I and World War II, so what’s your general interest in World Wars and naval warfare?
steve lucas: Of course. So yeah, I’ve done a number of projects set during World War I and World War II. I majored in history by trade, and have always been fascinated by the service men and women during that time and just trying to bring some of their stories to life. Obviously, both wars affected millions and millions of people around the world. And so there are many amazing stories to find and tell. And I always keep finding different ones that I want to try to bring to light, and operation sea lionSomehow, through a roundabout way of researching, I found something that I thought would be interesting, and we were able to put the pieces together to make it into a movie.
So I was curious as to what inspired this particular movie. Was it Operation Teardrop, or what were the real life events that inspired this?
Yes. Well, hey, I’m super impressed. Yes. So Operation Teardrop, it was the US Navy in World War II. It was their operation to stop these submarines at the end of the war. And yes, I read that Operation Seawolf was the German side, as they called it, and then the Navy called it Teardrop. And I found it so fascinating that the Navy dedicated so many resources to stop this mission. The more I immersed myself in investigating the actual operations on both sides, the more fascinated I became by it. Because it was like one of the last things in that part of the war that both the Navy and the German Navy got involved. So, a very fascinating story. Operation Teardrop, it’s a fantastic piece of history.
This movie takes place at a really interesting time because it’s near the end of the war. So the Germans are seeing something written on the wall, they are getting desperate. So how interesting was it to put it there and explore the psyche that was going on there?
Well, I think so, it was at the end of the war, and I thought it would be fascinating for [explore] How do fighting officers, men and soldiers continue to fight when they know they are lost? And so exploring that aspect of, well, what would keep your soldiers in the fight to the bitter end? I think it’s very interesting… it’s not a very talked about and shown part of the story, but definitely something that I thought was very interesting, and you could really find some characters in that world.
You have a great cast assembled for this. Dolph Lundgren is a legend. So what did it mean to bring him on board here? I know you also have Come Out Fighting, which also features him.
Yeah. So yeah, having Dolph involved, I always love working with Dolph. I was lucky, he made one of my first biggest movies, War Pigs, and he did a fantastic job at that. have it on operation sea lion, it was fun to get to have him… he was my leading man. He plays the role of Hans Kessler, and it was a lot of fun working with him a little bit more, one on one, about the journey that his character would have to be on.
Dolph is an amazing person, super nice, amazing storyteller, and it was fun working with him on the character development and the journey that I wanted to go on with this guy. So yeah, and he’s in my next movie that’s coming out called go out fighting. With Dolph, it’s always a testament. I am very lucky that he trusts me with the characters that he plays and that he can take those journeys and be a part of my projects. Fantastic. Dolph is always fun to work with. He is a great guy.
You’ve had quite a varied career. You’ve done production work, you’ve acted. Doing all these different types of work on film, how does that really help you as a director and help you put it all together?
Well I think one of the things yes, when it comes to directing, it’s been amazing to be involved in different aspects of film production in the past. It really helped me see what it takes to make the machine work, to be in the machine and to be involved in those parts. And I think just knowing that as a director and having to have worked physically from being a personal assistant to being a lead actor in something. Whether it’s directing the lead actor as opposed to how best to use PAs, and in both cases keeping them engaged and really motivated to tell the story.
I mean, I think that’s a very important thing as a director: making sure everyone is aware of how important their job is. And obviously I’m talking about someone like Dolph, who plays the lead and is the star and is the face of the story and the movie. I mean, you have to make sure that you’re telling that story and you’re on that journey with him, but everyone involved in the machine is very important and helps bring it to life. I think as a director, it’s fun to have that experience and be able to keep the whole crew and cast focused on the core goal of bringing everything to life and also having fun.
War movies are great because you have that action, but it really just goes to the core of the humanity of the characters and the conflict. So I was curious what are some of your favorite war movies that really inspire you as a director?
Oh, of course. Well, I think one of my favorite movies that I always like to mention is a movie called Kelly’s Heroes and stars Clint Eastwood. It’s from the seventies and it’s a bit strange. I mean, it’s got some of the most amazing action that’s ever been talked about, but it’s also kind of, I don’t want to say humorous, but it’s got some really good one-liners. And I think what’s fun about this is that it links the action with military and veterans, and they’ll say this too, there’s kind of a [an ability] to keep their jobs and what they do, how they can stay in the fight, they find things fun, they make mundane things fun. Kelly’s Heroes, does a great job of portraying that aspect of our veterans. So I definitely recommend it.
Obviously the big one is Saving Private Ryan. That had a huge impact on me as a kid growing up watching in theaters. It’s a perfect story and it’s a perfect war movie and that’s always been my goal, to try to make something that can be like that.