Playing real-life soldiers was both an honour and a huge responsibility for Travis Fimmel and Luke Bracey.
The Australian actors star in the tense Vietnam War drama Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan, which follows the efforts of 108 Australian and New Zealand soldiers who held off an estimated 2000 North Vietnamese soldiers on August 18, 1966.
Fimmel (who portrays Major Harry Smith) and Bracey (who plays Sergeant Bob Buick) learnt a lot from the men who inspired their roles in the film.
"There's such a soul to all of them, all the boys. We had a couple of beers with them. They're great guys," 40-year-old Vikings alum Fimmel told E! News. "They talk about the story like it was yesterday, it's so fresh in their mind. It's not something you move on from."
Hacksaw Ridge star Bracey also saw the long-lasting impact the battle of Long Tan had on the veterans.
"It was four hours of their life 53 years ago, and it still affects them every day," the 30-year-old said. "The only way to get through situations like this is to look to each other, and look out for each other. You meet these guys and that's one of the things you take away."
The film, which was directed by Red Dog's Kriv Stenders and also stars Richard Roxburgh, Daniel Webber and Anthony Hayes, captures the courage of many soldiers as well as the devastating casualties in Vietnam on both sides.
Before shooting commenced, the cast completed a week-long boot camp on the Gold Coast in Queensland to prepare for the many battle scenes.
"Boot camp is a nice way to put it, but it wasn't so intense," Bracey explained. "It was a crash course in learning all the weapon systems, learning how they got trained and also just forming a bond between all the boys in the crew and the cast, which was great."
Although Fimmel's schedule clashed with the main week of training, he's had plenty of experience playing it tough and wielding power—in a very different time and place, obviously—after four seasons as Ragnar Lothbrok in Vikings.
"I think it's kind of the same, you just try and make the relationships matter more than anything," the Victorian-born star said of what he took away from filming Vikings. "As actors, that's our job, to care about every single person next to you."
With the battle of Long Tan anniversary approaching, both Fimmel and Bracey hope Danger Close will give audiences a greater understanding of the experience of soldiers in Vietnam, many of whom were conscripted.
"Literally the average age of these guys was 20," Bracey told E! News. "I think it's hard for young people to get their heads around the fact that these guys didn't have a choice."
Adds Fimmel: "The kids of today should know about this. It's a very important film to have for Australia."
Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan is released August 8.