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Nature provides Hollywood with earth quakes, tsunamis, fires, avalanches and perfect storms; man made disasters are just as destructive and dramatic, offering an opportunity for human nature to display its best and worst qualities – ideal for cinematic treatment. Deepwater Horizon – an innocent, even poetic name – is now a movie based on the true story of the oil rig explosion that caused largest accidental marine oil spill in the world, and the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. Andrew L. Urban reports.

The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion on April 20, 2010 and subsequent fire on the Deepwater Horizon semi-submersible Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU), owned and operated by Transocean and drilling for BP in the Macondo Prospect oil field about 60 km southeast of the Louisiana coast, killed 11 workers and injured 17 others. In all, there were 126 crew on board. The explosion caused the Deepwater Horizon to burn and sink.

According to interviews with platform workers conducted during BP's internal investigation, a bubble of methane gas escaped from the well and shot up the drill column, expanding quickly as it burst through several seals and barriers before exploding.

The movie, Deepwater Horizon, is directed by Peter Berg, whose previous feature was another dramatic true story, Lone Survivor (2013), based on the extraordinary story of Marcus Luttrell – played in the film by Mark Wahlberg - and his team whose mission was to capture or kill the Taliban leader Ahmad Shah, in June 2005. Berg replaced J. C. Chandor (All Is Lost) apparently due to creative differences with the producers.

Berg has enlisted Wahlberg again, this time to play Mike Williams, who became the face of the Deepwater Horizon's ill-fated crew when he detailed his harrowing escape from the burning rig on 60 Minutes, having had to jump approximately ten stories from the rig to save his life.

Gina Rodriguez plays Andrea Fleytas, who notices the blaze at the rig and tries to contact the Coast Guard. John Malkovich plays a BP representative who underestimates the dangers of working on the rig, and Kate Hudson plays Mike Williams’ wife.

The screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand, is based on The New York Times article Deepwater Horizon’s Final Hours by David Barstow, David S. Rhode and Stephanie Saul, published in December 2010.

Principal photography began on April 27, 2015 in New Orleans.

Published October 6, 2016

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Deepwater Horizon – in Australian cinemas from October 6, 2016.


Directed by Peter Berg. Stars Mark Wahlberg, Dylan O’Brien, Kate Hudson, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez, Ethan Suplee, John Malkovich

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