Director Doug Liman reunites with his Edge of Tomorrow star, Tom Cruise, in Universal Pictures’ American Made, based on the outrageous (and real) exploits of a hustler and pilot unexpectedly recruited by the CIA to run one of the biggest covert operations in U.S. History.
(Watch the trailer for American Made at below.)
Liman, who refers to the film as “a fun lie based on a true story,” offers that he has long appreciated stories of improbable heroes working against the system. “Barry Seal, our lead character, took America for an unbelievable ride,” reveals the filmmaker. “Interpreting his story has the makings for an entertaining film that is equal parts satire, suspense and comedy—and always surprising.”
Liman loved the fact that, while so many films have been made about people being run over by the government, Seal’s story was one of someone “who screwed over the White House. Barry is a zealot-like character who really did cross paths with so many household names from the ’80s—ranging from Ronald Reagan and Manuel Noriega to Bill Clinton and Oliver North.”
The quintessential American success story, Seal was recruited for surveillance activities on communist activities in Central America, and ultimately to deliver weapons to rebels in that area who were fighting communists. The U.S. war on drugs and the war on communism had two fronts, and Seal knew them equally well.
“He was a real opportunist, and he had an empty airplane on the way back,” continues the director. “If it absolutely had to be there overnight and it was illegal, Barry Seal was your guy. Since he was conducting illegal operations with the CIA’s help, he could get in and out of the country undetected. Well, there was no point flying back with an empty airplane, so Barry thought he might as well bring drugs back with it. So he ended up working for both the U.S. government and for the Colombian drug cartel at the same time, and unbeknownst to the other. He played both sides, and became fabulously wealthy while he was doing it. Still, it was never about the money for Barry. It was about the excitement, the challenge and all about the flying.”
Pilots themselves, Cruise and Liman gravitated toward the human elements in Barry’s life, as Barry tries desperately to keep a normal family in the midst of challenging choices. He is crazy about his wife, Lucy, and will do whatever it takes to keep her and their kids happy. Their marriage is passionate, but practical. Of course, these characters are inspired by members of the Seal family; but, just like with any film, the team would take a great deal of creative license in telling the story.
For Tom Cruise, this longtime labor of love wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Liman. Of his director, he reflects: “Doug brings a unique humanity to his films. He comes up with ideas as we’re working, and the friendship that we have allows us to trust one another—where we’re willing to try anything. We push each other, and he’s someone who wants to make great films and to entertain an audience.
Opening across the Philippines on September 13, 2017, American Made is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.