"The Hurt Locker" Team Moves to Dismiss Lawsuit

Attorneys for the director and screenwriter of the Oscar-winning "The Hurt Locker" said an Iraq war veteran cannot prove a character was based on him

Thursday, Mar 3, 2011  |  Updated 5:30 PM CDT
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The Oscar-winning director and screenwriter of "The Hurt Locker" have asked a federal judge to dismiss an Iraq war veteran's lawsuit alleging the film is based on him.

Attorneys for director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal wrote in a motion filed Wednesday that Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver cannot prove he is the basis for the bomb technician portrayed by Jeremy Renner in the film. They also argue that the movie is protected by California law and the First Amendment, and that Sarver cannot win the case.

Sarver sued Bigelow, Boal and the film's producers and distributor in March 2010, just days before the movie won best picture at the Academy Awards. Bigelow and Boal also received Oscars for their work on the film, which portrays a U.S. bomb technician defusing improvised explosive devices during the Iraq War.

Boal was embedded with Sarver's unit in Iraq in 2004 and wrote a story for Playboy titled, "The Man in the Bomb Suit" that profiled the West Virginia native.

Sarver contends Boal based Renner's character on him, an accusation the writer has consistently denied. In a sworn declaration, Boal writes that he interviewed more than 50 military personnel who work in bomb disposal units and that Renner's character, named William James, is a composite of many of them.

"William James is a fictional character that is a product of my imagination," Boal wrote in his declaration before listing 29 scenes portrayed in the film that Sarver didn't experience.

He also rejects Sarver's claim that the technician introduced him to the term "the hurt locker" that became his screenplay and the film's title. Boal writes that the phrase has been used since the Vietnam War.

A phone message for Sarver's attorney Todd Weglarz was not immediately returned. According to court filings, Sarver is currently deployed in Afghanistan.

Attorneys for producer Nicolas Chartier and several film studios, including Summit Entertainment, are also seeking a dismissal of Sarver's claims. Their arguments will be heard on April 4, and if the case survives, a judge has scheduled a trial for February 2012.

Sarver's attorneys have argued in court filings that the motions were filed too late and should be rejected.

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