Netflix’s recent film “Purple Hearts” captures many facets of military experiences through the love story of a fictional military couple named Luke and Cassie. When taking on this role, actor Nicholas Galitzine, who portrays a Marine named Luke, had one main goal: to humanize military members to those on the outside.
Cassie, who is played by American actress Sofia Carson, crosses paths with Luke at a bar in San Diego, California, just before he is set to deploy. After a tense meeting, both characters — overwhelmed with their personal problems — concoct a scheme to get married (despite their contempt for each other) and use military benefits as a temporary solution. Cassie has diabetes and needs the health care, and Luke wants to use the extra income that comes with having a spouse to pay back his former drug dealer.
Galitzine, a British actor, took on the challenge of portraying a U.S. Marine with much respect, he says, determined to give his best to the role. With a grandfather who served in the UK military, having this glimpse into the military journey of an American citizen was an unforgettable experience for him.
In an interview, he reflects on the role and what message he hopes viewers get from “Purple Hearts.”
What was it like preparing for the film, and did you work with any Marines?
I had many incredible resources — a former Marine who was a constant resource for me in trying to understand what life would be like and how I would respond to certain situations. And then something simple as being able to salute the right way and look presentable. I also talked to a former Marine captain, who was my first point of reference for helping me be believable as a Marine.
For those who live this military life, you’d be surprised at all the small things that matter and make a difference. Marines definitely notice those things. Did the Marines you worked with notice those things?
Yea! We spent a day at Camp Pendleton filming, and it was incredible to be around so many Marines. They definitely are a lot of fun and were quick to educate me where I needed it. They probably thought, ‘Who is this English man playing a U.S. Marine?’ But they also welcomed me, and I felt so at home with them, so it was a lot of fun.
Were any of your preparations similar to boot camp?
Since I couldn’t get in the country beforehand, I did most of the boot camp myself. I researched basic training heavily. Funny enough, the day we pulled up to Pendleton, somehow my breakfast had gotten lost, and I attempted to do one of the hardest workouts of my life with no food in 100-degree heat. By half the day, my legs are gone! I was frustrated because I wanted to succeed as much as I could. I wanted them to feel proud that I was representing them as well.
You and your co-star Sofia did such a great job together. What did you love most about her character?
She’s so driven. Luke has a drive to repair the relationships that he’s drained over the years, and she was educational for him in a lot of ways and really was able to channel his energy. She was amazing in helping him go through his healing and pushing him forward to try and make that recovery.
What message would you have for veterans watching this film?
Every Marine I met with has an incredibly different story, different political leanings, and comes from different backgrounds. We wanted to show the real parts. It will hopefully offer some hope for military couples going through difficulties with deploying and coming back injured — which can often be so detrimental and difficult for the families and loved ones. I hope they can take this as an accurate and honest representation of what they’ve gone through.