Dreya’s Story

An Interview with Dreya Weber of “A Marine Story”

By Liza Swart

Read the movie review here.

After viewing “A Marine Story,” starring Dreya Weber, I was given an opportunity to sit down for a lengthy phone interview with the actress. While I was impressed with the film, I was even more impressed with Weber, her passion for performance, and the gravity with which she took on the role of a Marine major named Alex, discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). Witty, smart and well-versed in her subject matter, Weber brought new depth to her role in this timely and important film.

Liza: What kind of training or experience did you take on for this role?
Dreya: I met a wonderful man named Paul Iwamoto, who was Cher’s head of security. He used to train some of the dancers on the tour in martial arts. I knew that he was a well-known teacher and would teach Navy SEALs. He’s like 70 years old, Japanese, and has been a student of martial arts for 55 years. He’s incredible. He’s this deadly, lethal weapon. I asked him if he would train me, because there were several real-world scenarios of readiness at any moment that I thought Alex would have. The cool thing about her, because she was a Mustang, and because she comes from a military family, was that she understood she would be more respected particularly as a woman if she were enlisted first. We don’t really talk about it in the movie, but I wanted it to feel like it was there, like she’d be a super overachiever, that she probably would have studied a lot of martial arts.

L: Have you had much interaction with the military prior to this film, and how as this changed your perception of those discharged under DADT?
D: I don’t have any active-duty family. My father was in the Air Force. But it was something I had to learn about. I found it so incredibly moving that people were willing to be closeted and only represent a partial experience as a human being to their workmates, to their colleagues, to their friends even, because of this call to service. It’s something that I didn’t expect to learn, and when I did kind of have my eyes and mind open to it, I thought it was really beautiful. I found it more moving that people who are gay and lesbian chose to stay in because of their loyalty to this idea, even with the incredible foundational conflict of ‘I’m supposed to be honorable and tell the truth, and I can’t tell the truth, I can’t be truthful, but I’m going to be a model and hold myself to this high standard.’ It was a very unexpected lesson.

L: How did you envision Alex’s growth throughout the film, and what do you think was her biggest area of growth?
D: I think that the biggest thing was her ability to bring herself to her life. That she actually was living with the gal she falls for in the film, that her expression of who she is, is the big change. The beautiful trade-off between Saffron and Alex has an effect on Alex that is very positive. Because Saffron is at such a turning point in her life, and because Alex asks her to step up, Alex realizes she can actually be in the world. It’s a great problem to think about for someone who has defined herself for so long in a particular world.

L: To that end, do you see Alex’s discharge as almost a positive event in her life?
D: No, I think “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is and was a tragedy. Unfortunately, tragedy happens in our lives. The opportunity that tragedy gives us is to try to turn it into a positive. How can we grow, how can we not be self destructive or destructive to others.

L: You seemed to have several target audiences in the film: the military, small-town America, even queer people themselves. What were you trying to say to each of those audiences?
D: It’s a movie, and neither the director nor I believe that polemics is a way to change anyone’s mind. So, to make a film that was entertaining, that would perhaps make people change their minds or at least reconsider the policy, was certainly the first thing. The second thing was to make an enjoyable film, in particular to me, to mix it up and have a female action character. Really, Alex is a role that would be a guy in any other movie. She’s like the cowboy who comes into town with the mystery. She’s got a chip on her shoulder, befriends the underdog, and is a little bit of a hothead. All of those ingredients are much more traditionally male than female. That part is certainly something that interested me, to see if we could successfully do that.

L: Alex seemed to talk more as the film went on. In the beginning of the film, she had long stretches of silence. What was going on in her head during those times?
D: I think it’s so disorienting to be spat out of your world. Anybody who loses their job after a long period of time probably goes through the same thing. Alex is in shock. She loves the military and considers it the best thing that ever happened to her. She was rejected from something that she loves, that she has dedicated her life to. She’s trying to suppress her rage, which is why she’s drinking so much. I think she’s furious, but she can’t be furious at the military because she loves it. She loves service, she loves the Corps, she loves what she’s able to do, what she’s done. She’s proud. But they don’t want her to do it if she loves a woman. So she has this fury that has no way to express itself, other than getting drunk and punching a guy. In her self-destructive behavior, she is just trying to keep a lid on this confusion and anger. I think it’s somebody holding on really, really tight.

L: Is there anything else you’d like to tell the LGBT military community?
D: I would love to thank everyone for their service. I’m so grateful for people who have the call to serve and make that commitment and sacrifice for us. We’re very fortunate. In particular for the LGBT community, because it’s so incredibly moving to me that people are willing to sacrifice. Thank goodness DADT was overturned. It took too long. I’m sorry it didn’t happen sooner.

Leave a reply



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *