Davis: Actor Peter Berg adds to impressive resumé as a director

Direcotr Peter Berg
Direcotr Peter Berg's recent work includes the now-released 'Lone Survivor', ESPN documentary 'King's Ransom', and 'Hancock'.
— image credit: Wikimedia Commons (author Gage Skidmore)

As an actor, Peter Berg was best known for his role in TV’s Chicago Hope, but has had much more success as a director.

His directing debut was an episode of Chicago Hope but he quickly moved into movies like Very Bad Things, The Rundown, Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom and Hancock.

Although he had a very expensive flop with Battleship, it could also be argued that he did a very competent job directing the Hasbro-produced movie that was poorly written and clearly made to try to capitalize on the success of Transformers.

Berg has bounced back to direct Lone Survivor, a project he wanted to do before Battleship, but was not able to get financial backing. To get it made, not only did he and star Mark Wahlberg take pay cuts, they contributed their own money to the budget and co-stars Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Eric Bana and Kelowna native Taylor Kitsch – who also starred in the TV version of Friday Night Lights, created by Berg – took pay cuts as well.

Lone Survivor is based upon a true story of Operation Red Wings, a 2005 mission that tasked four Navy SEALs to capture or kill Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. Critical reviews have been mostly positive, drawing comparisons to movies like Black Hawk Down, and it has already been named the Best Action Film and one of the top 10 films of the year by the Las Vegas Film Critics Society.  Berg himself has been nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay by the Writers Guild of America, which means he could be in the running for an Academy Award nomination.


Alexander Payne is another writer-director who has made a number of both critically and financially successful movies including Election, About Schmidt, Sideways and The Descendants. He has been nominated for six Academy Awards, winning twice, plus he has received a Golden Globe nomination for directing his latest called Nebraska.

Filmed in black and white, this quirky comedy is about an aging, booze-addled father (Bruce Dern) who makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million-dollar sweepstakes prize.

It has already received 101 nominations from the likes of the Cannes Film Festival, American Film Institute, numerous film critics societies and has four other Golden Globe nominations on top of Best Director, Best Actor – Musical or Comedy (Dern), Best Supporting Actress (June Squibb), Best Screenplay and Best Picture – Musical or Comedy.

Also starring is Saturday Night Live alum Will Forte and former SNL writer Bob Odenkirk (who plays lawyer Saul Goodman on TV’s Breaking Bad).

Coincidentally, Nebraska's script is the first screenplay from writer Bob Nelson, who got his start on Almost Live, a comedy sketch show which followed Saturday Night Live on Seattle’s NBC affiliate KING-TV in the ’90s, which also spawned Bill Nye the Science Guy and actor-comedian Joel McHale.

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