Personnel Officer hits the Silver Screen

14 Jun 2002 | Sgt. Jeffrey R. Womack

Five-star hotels, coat ladies to keep people warm between scenes, travels to foreign lands and an appearance in a major motion picture...these are just a few benefits a movie star experiences daily while on the job.

These luxuries were spared at no expense for one of Fightertown's newest warrant officers as he makes his acting debut at movie theaters nationwide tonight.

Warrant Officer Bradley J. Goode, Inbound and Deployed Operations officer in charge, Installation Personnel Administration Center, had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk the red carpet with fellow Marines who starred in the world premiere of "The Bourne Identity," June 6.

"It was one of the greatest experiences of my life," the native of Davenport, Iowa, said.  "The actual Marines who starred in the movie all showed up in dress blue deltas at the casual dress occasion. With each step we took on the red carpet at Universal Studios, Calif., the press horded us with photographs and questions.  It was an amazing feeling. Not many Marines also get the chance to talk with Brad Pitt, Jennifer Anniston and Rene Russo casually at an after party."

"The Bourne Identity" is an adaptation of Robert Ludlum's novel and a 1988 TV movie about a man who washes up on the shore of the Mediterranean Seas with a gunshot wound and amnesia. 

In the search for his identity, Jason Bourne is hunted down by mysterious men. Bourne discovers he has the ability to kill his predators with special powers. 

The beginning scenes of the movie take place in an American Embassy with Marines guarding and fighting to defend their territory.

The night of stardom and glamour for Goode was accredited to a phone call he received while stationed at Frankfurt, Germany, in January 2001.

"I was the personnel chief for the Marine Security Guards in Frankfurt, Germany, when I got a call from the executive producer Frank Marshall who needed some real Marines for a movie he was making in Prague," Goode said.  "I volunteered myself, got five MSGs from the area together and we each took three and a half weeks of leave to be in this movie."

Lavish living was the furthest thing from these Marines minds until they were escorted to a five-star hotel, compliments of Universal Pictures.

"We weren't extras in the movie," Goode, the former drill instructor, said.  "We were living like kings for a week.  We each had contracts for the roles we played and got paid a decent sum of money for our work."

The only thing required of the Marines to bring to the set, which was an abandoned warehouse designed into a makeshift U.S. Embassy, were their own Marine Corps uniforms - camouflage utilities and dress blue "charlies."

"They hired a few Czech extras to create more Marines, but they showed up with utilities with patches on the shoulder like the Army and cammy patterns that we didn't use," Goode said.  "We weren't going to accept Marines being portrayed the wrong way, so we gave them each a set of our Marine cammies."

Instead of the Marines asking questions about where they should be in the filming, the moviemakers were asking them, sometimes replying with amazement, how a Marine should be portrayed.

"There are a lot of action scenes with us," Goode said.  "They would ask us how a Marine would clear a room or climb stairs.  They also let us use actual tactics in the instance of an embassy attack. We showed them everything from the way we walk, sweep a room with our weapons and verbally communicate in the instance of an attack.  We even used the new protective vests embassy guards now wear.  Everything was authentic MSG gear. The only thing different from the real thing was our weapons - we used Uzis and fake nine millimeters."

An average day of work for the Marines and the moviemakers ranged from seven in morning - following a large, in-hotel room breakfast - until 8:30 at night.

"Between that time, we spent about five hours of actual work," Goode said.  "They told us after they were finished with us for the day that we could take off, but we stuck around the entire time to see the scene come together.  Not many chances come up when you can watch Matt Damon beat someone up on a set before your eyes."

Matt Damon, the star of "The Bourne Identity," grew a liking to the Marines from the first day of their introduction.

"He introduced himself not knowing we were actual Marines," Goode said.  "After watching us at work, he started staring at us really peculiar.  After a few more puzzled looks, he figured it out and said to us, 'You guys are the real thing, aren't you'?  We were nervous at first because he's a famous actor, but he grew on us.  When we had some time off, we took him to the Marine House in the Prague U.S. Embassy.  He was a really cool guy.  He enjoyed hanging out with us probably because he needed some Americans to talk to considering he'd been traveling around a lot."

Goode and the rest of his Marines returned to their normal duties as MSGs after the filming.  Goode, then a staff sergeant, readied himself for The Basic School in Quantico, Va., where he learned how to become a Marine warrant officer.

Even though a week of filming Marines in action was edited down to 15 to 20 minutes, Goode saw the opportunity to be in a major motion picture as rewarding.

"It was the best paid vacation I ever had," Goode said.  "It was our chance to represent the Corps in a good way.  If I ever received another phone call from Frank Marshall asking me and a few other Marines to be in another movie, I'd do it in a heartbeat."