We expected nothing more than "Bourne in Iraq" from Green Zone, but we were pleasantly surprised. Although the movie didn't delve too far into the juicy tales of utter administration incompetence that the book did, it still delivered a good bit of entertainment and a fair recapping of the WMD search.
Today we learn that there's a Texas connection to the movie. Allen Vaught, a Democrat from Dallas and a veteran of the war, has a cameo in a key scene.
Sure, he plays an Army briefer who doesn't want Matt Damon's character to voice publicly any doubts about the WMD intelligence in front of a visiting general, but you take your parts where you can.
"It was a great honor to have a small part in the Green Zone," Vaught says on his blog. "I have not seen the entire film, but I expect it will be a great tribute to veterans of the Iraq War. I applaud Paul Greengrass for incorporating so many Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans in the film."
Here's a bio recapping his service:
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Vaught served as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve's Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command. He saw combat operations in Fallujah and Sadr City in 2003 and 2004. Vaught was the de facto mayor of Fallujah during the early months of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was eventually injured in a roadside bomb in Sadr City and discharged from the Army. His commendations include the Purple Heart, Combat Action Badge and Valorous Unit Award.
"While my character is completely fictional and has nothing to do with who I was as a soldier, or my actual role in the Iraq War, Paul did let me name my character after my son, Jonathan Vaught" the rep says. "That was very special to me and something that I hope Jonathan will appreciate when he is a few years older. Our daughter Morgan was born after filming, so we might have a problem there unless there is a sequel."
But the main question anyone wants to know -- what was it like working with Matt Damon?
On location in London, Vaught says he filmed a 10-minute scene with Damon, actor Brendan Gleeson and Paul Rieckhoff, executive director and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. The scene involved a briefing, and Vaught says both the actors and soldiers were instructed by Greengrass to make up their own dialogue "reflective of something that could have happened.
In between takes, Vaught spent some time chatting with Damon.
"It turns out our kids were born the same day in '06, so we spent 20 minutes talking about our kids. When you're talking to the best-looking dude alive, or whatever award he got, you would think that's not what you would be talking about. But he's the most down-to-earth guy I've ever met," Vaught says Damon readily posed for every photo and signed every copy of The Bourne Ultimatum that was asked of him by the soldiers who worked on the set.
"He never shirked," Vaught says. "When I finally said, 'Hey, can I get a picture with you?' I still felt kind-of awkward, but he said, 'Yeah, sure.'"