By Dan Hirshberg
When "The Hunted" hits movie theaters nationwide on March
14, Tom Brown, Jr. can bask in the knowledge that he played an integral
part in making this the most authentic film ever about tracking and
"The Hunted," a Paramount Pictures release, is about a top
special-forces assassin (played by Benicio Del Toro) gone amok. His
mentor, played by Tommy Lee Jones (a Tom Brown-like character), is
brought out of retirement to help locate and capture his former expert
student. The film is directed by William Friedkin ("The
Exorcist," "To Live and Die in L.A."). It is rated R for
strong bloody violence and some language.
Brown spent nearly a year in the Pacific Northwest working as a
Technical Advisor to Friedkin.
"Billy and I go back many years," noted Brown.
"Initially he wanted to make a movie about my life - that's how we
Indeed, Friedkin had been dreaming of making a film like "The
Hunted" ever since he formed a friendship with Brown, but was
concerned it would be too much like a documentary of Brown. And then
he read a script by David and Peter Griffiths about a trained, Delta
Force-style assassin who becomes a serial killer. That script became
the basis for "The Hunted," which was rewritten to focus
more on the inner and outer conflicts of the Jones and Del Toro
characters. Friedkin then personally recruited Brown to train the
actors and serve as a consultant throughout the shoot.
"The basis for the movie is very similar to a tracking case I
had once been on," said Brown. "At first, I helped with the
creating of the story idea. And then I was brought on as a Technical
Advisor and from there it branched out, from assisting with things like
character development, dialogue, set decorations, special effects and of
course, skills training.
I was generally always next to Billy during shooting and that's
because he wanted a certain authenticity that I brought to the movie.
Billy's a perfectionist. I've always liked that about him. He's
constantly striving to make a story as authentic as humanly
The movie is action-packed with excitement, but does not follow the
usual shoot 'em up theory. Instead, the film focuses on survival tactics
and features knives, not guns, as the weapons of choice.
In fact, the flint and steel knives used in the movie were cast in
hard rubber from originals that Brown manufactured for fight scenes
between Jones and Del Toro. Interestingly, an all-purpose knife designed
by Brown that is currently for sale through The Tracker School, is
prominently showcased in the movie.
Brown spent a great deal of time with both Jones and Del Toro,
training them for their parts.
"Tommy Lee has a ranch down in Texas,” said Brown, who was
assisted in the training by Tracker School instructor Bill McConnell.
"There wasn't much training I had to do with him because he's
already a hunter and good in the outdoors. Benicio was less experienced,
but at the same time extremely easy to train. He spends a lot of time
early in the movie in natural camouflage - mud, leaves, sticks. The
camouflage was so good that we had to lighten it up so the cameras could