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Vet says 'Hurt Locker' damaged his credibility

The Associated Press, Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 12:37pm (PDT)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- An Iraq war veteran who claims he is the basis for "The Hurt Locker" wrote in a court filing signed in Afghanistan that the movie has placed his life at risk and subjected him to ridicule about his bomb disposal prowess.

"Defendants have essentially placed a bulls-eye on the back of my army uniform/bomb suit for my current and future deployments," Army Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver wrote in a sworn declaration filed Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Sarver wrote that the Oscar-winning film relies heavily on his experiences and background and that despite claims from the filmmakers, the screenwriter did base several of the film's scenes on his experiences. Those include firing a handgun at suspected car bombers, placing the gun to the forehead of an Iraqi driver to get him to move away and setting off smoke screens to avoid snipers.

Sarver signed his declaration in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan, where he is currently deployed.

He claims he never gave screenwriter Mark Boal permission to use personal details in a story he did for a Playboy magazine article titled "The Man in the Bomb Suit," and that their inclusion in the story and "The Hurt Locker" have hurt his reputation.

Boal was embedded with Sarver's unit in 2004. Sarver claims Boal wanted to stay with him exclusively because he didn't trust other bomb techs.

"Because the actor portrays me as a reckless soldier and idiot, this portrayal is being reflected upon me at work, at home, and amongst friends," Sarver wrote.

He also states that some of the film's scenes feature the main character using techniques that are the opposite of proper bomb-disposal procedure, which has led to other soldiers questioning his abilities.

Sarver's filing claims Army leadership mistakenly believes he sold his story so that it could be made into a movie, which has hurt his chances for a promotion.

"Hurt Locker" Director Kathryn Bigelow, Boal and the film's producers are seeking a dismissal of Sarver's case, saying he is not the basis for "William James," the character played by Jeremy Renner. In court filings, they have also stated that the film is protected by California law and the First Amendment, and that Sarver cannot win the lawsuit.

"William James is a fictional character that is a product of my imagination," Boal wrote in a previous filing.

A hearing on their dismissal motion is set for April 4.

Sarver sued over "The Hurt Locker" in March 2010, just days before the movie won best picture at the Academy Awards. Bigelow and Boal also received Oscars for their work on the film.

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