Megan Leavey: Bioic of Young Marine in Iraq, Played by Kate Mara

Stars Kate Mara, Common and Edie Falco attended the premiere at Yankee Stadium for the fact-inspired war film Megan Leavey.

Leavey centers on a young Marine, played by Mara, and the bond she develops with a military combat dog, Rex, while serving in Iraq.

The real Leavey, who now works as an executive in the Yankees’ partnership sales department, was honored by the team in an on-field ceremony in 2012 after she and Rex were reunited.

“I couldn’t be more excited that this premiere is here. This is a place that is near and dear to my heart,” Leavey said of the event taking place at the Bronx stadium. “I’m honored that they think highly enough of this movie to have it here.”

Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite was impressed by the history-making event. “It’s beyond anything I could have hoped for,” she said, pointing out that the June 5 premiere was well-timed. “We filmed here to the day a year ago so I guess it seems kind of serendipitous and pretty perfect.”

The film shot at Yankee Stadium and features a cameo from the real Leavey.  But the Marine said the filmmakers took “creative liberties” after she told the writers her story, though she likes the outcome.  “I see where they’re coming from,” Leavey said. “But that’s their job. I’m just the person telling the story. I’m not a producer, I’m not an actor.”

Mara spent time with Leavey to get to know her real-life counterpart–Leavey was always available as a resource:  “We just spent as much time as we could, together.  We just hung out and talked and just got to know each other. The script answered a lot of the questions I had. Anything I was unsure of, I would just give her a call or if she was on set, I would ask her then. She was always very open about it.”

The actress was also aided by her love of animals, which “definitely gave me that extra sense of pride in this story and connection to how Megan may have been feeling but also just her drive to protect this animal that she loves. My experience with working with animals and the Humane Society, etc. definitely gave me that extra sense of urgency and passion for it.”

Cowperthwaite was intrigued by Megan Leavey‘s “fresh take on a war film.”  Her experience making the killer-whale docu Blackfish, helped her to get the real emotions.

“I was trying hard not to make this feel too saccharine, or pull heartstrings on purpose with animals, or try too hard to inspire emotion. Letting those things happen naturally through Megan’s relationship with Rex was something that I thought worked about Blackfish.  You could come in and knew what the film was about and earn the feelings that you have about it, because it wasn’t being preached to you, it was being earned.”