An unprecedented action-adventure film,“Act of Valor” stars a group of active-duty U.S. Navy SEALs in a fictionalized portrayal of real anti-terrorism operations. But for star Roselyn Sanchez, who plays a CIA operative held captive, it wasn’t just the story line that piqued her interest – it was also a welcome change to star alongside real American servicemen as opposed to Hollywood actors.
“What surprised me was how unaffected and cool they were," Sanchez told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column of the SEALs. "Here they were doing a Hollywood movie and it wasn’t a big deal, they went along for the ride, they did their thing and they were incredible. I didn’t see any diva behavior. It was new for me to work with guys that even if they were waiting around for eight hours and didn’t have a trailer, they were content. It was refreshing.”
And for directors Mike “Mouse” McCoy and Scott Waugh of Bandito Brothers, the film – which hits theaters Friday – would never have worked out without the real SEALs not only in the starring roles, but also writing a large portion of the script.
“As were led inside the community, we connected with this brotherhood of men that totally blew us away. We thought this was something that only existed in mythology,” McCoy explained. “But when we really connected with these men, and learned about the real acts of valor that have happened on the battlefield over the last ten years, they were more mind-blowing than anything a Hollywood screenwriter could write… And all the operational planning was done by the SEALs, every op you see go done in the movie, it was written by the SEALs so it is 100 percent legit.”
“The caliber of these guys was just so unbelievably amazing," McCoy added. "They were some of the most competent, intellectual, dynamic men you have ever met in your lives,” he said. “Given the weight of the subject matter and paying respect to their communities, the only way to do it was with the real guys.”
But “Act of Valor” not only seeks to showcase the skills and tenacity of our SEALs, but also the sacrifices their families make in the fight to keep all Americans safe.
“We strived to make this movie appeal to women. It is the Navy SEALs so guys are going to love it – but we set out to capture the women’s sacrifice too, they are just as heroic as the men. They have their own acts of valor that might never be recognized,” Waugh said.
The directors also hope moviegoers leave the cinema with a deeper respect for our servicemen and women.
“They don’t do it for recognition, and that was really the exploration of the film,” Waugh noted. “Why do these people do these incredible acts of valor for no recognition? It’s a rare breed of people these days and we wanted to play homage to that.”
And for Sanchez, her biggest desire is that Americans will walk away with a richer understanding of what really goes on beyond and borders – and why.
“It’s important for America and the world to know – all these people risk their lives every day to make sure we are okay,” she added. “America is already in love with, and fascinated by the NAVY Seals, and I think after watching this movie that love affair is going to be even stronger. You leave loving them and really respecting what they do.”
Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay