In the new movie "Red Dawn," an update of the 1984 Cold War version, a militia of teenagers is tasked with saving their small town from a North Korean invasion. The result is the kind of non-stop action that made the original so popular. But before shooting their first scene, the film's actors came together for an intense training regimen producers hoped would get them in shape.
"We did six weeks with Navy SEALs and two weeks with Marines," said actor Josh Peck, who in his role as local high school football star Matt Eckert also had a week of gridiron training. "It was hard. I don't know if I'd ever done a pull-up before. Now I can do a lot of pull-ups."
Following their combat training, the "Red Dawn" cast had to find other ways to develop on-screen chemistry. When filming started in Michigan, they did this by making numerous trips to a nearby mall and the local gym. Then, a month into shooting, Peck came up with the perfect way to cultivate camaraderie.
A longtime hockey fan and Los Angeles Kings diehard, it was only a matter of time before Peck gathered some of his co-stars for a trip to see the Detroit Red Wings play at Joe Louis Arena. Peck enlisted two of his best friends on the set, neither of whom had been to a hockey game before.
"We randomly got to go to a Red Wings game," Peck told NHL.com. "I went with Julian Alcaraz and Chris Hemsworth. I took them both to their first-ever hockey game. It was kind of cool to watch it through their eyes."
The first-timers enjoyed the experience, particularly Hemsworth, an Australian-born actor best known for playing Thor in "The Avengers." Enjoying an exciting game at The Joe was a fun break that offered an exciting outlet for a group that spent its days filming physically demanding action scenes.
"Chris was stunned -- especially at a game that is so fast-paced and takes so much athletic ability. We had a real good time and Joe Louis Arena is awesome," Peck said. "What better way to spend a Saturday night after filming than to go see the Red Wings?"
Alcaraz said, "It was really cool. The hockey game was a really awesome experience. It was like three buds hanging out. It was in Detroit and the Red Wings have their fan base that is hard-core. The environment just made it that much cooler. It was very memorable."
The idea to see an NHL game was a natural for Peck.
The 26-year-old had grown up a Kings fan and was thrilled to introduce two new friends to the sport he loves. The former child star ("Drake & Josh") saw years of fandom culminate this summer when his beloved Kings won the Stanley Cup for the first time. A fixture at Staples Center, Peck was in attendance when the Kings closed out their six-game Final win over the New Jersey Devils. He's still reliving the experience.
"I was there the night we won. It was sick. We couldn't believe it. We went to the Game 4 and thought that was where we were going to take it," Peck said. "It was electric. We couldn't believe this was the team that took it all the way."
But before witnessing his Kings' historic Stanley Cup win, Peck was just enjoying a fun night with two of his co-stars. After the Red Wings game, they were invited to a birthday party held by some of the local "Red Dawn" crew. With filming set to continue the following morning, the group wasn't planning on spending much time reveling. But the evening took an interesting turn when a group of Red Wings players suddenly arrived.
"We ended up going to this after-party and a couple of the players showed up," Alcaraz said. "The friends that we were with said, 'Oh my gosh, the Red Wings are here.'"
Fresh off taking in their first hockey game, Hemsworth and Alcaraz had no idea they were in the presence of NHL talent. Peck, on the other hand, was smitten by the experience. But he never forgot his allegiances.
"I was thrilled," Peck said. "But I love the Kings."
Red Dawn opens nationally Wednesday.
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