10 More War Movie Actors Who Were Actually There

More war movie actors who served and then starred in movies set in the wars they fought.

Michael Caine A Hill In Korea The Great Escaper
British Lion Films/Warner Bros.

Plenty of actors have made a name for themselves as genre stalwarts, specialising in Westerns, film noir, science-fiction and so on, and the war movie genre is no exception. However, while scantly few actors can lay claim to sharing the lived experience of a Texas Ranger, private dick or astronaut, plenty have served in the military, with some even going on to star in films set in the conflicts in which they fought.

We've already taken a look at 10 notable war movie actors who revisited their wartime experiences for the silver screen, with a specific focus on World War II, but that only scratched the surface of performers who have held a wartime record. The Second World War had a profound impact on the film industry, with countless professionals finding their way into military service in the Allied armies of Britain, the United States, Canada, and so on. Many of the emerging talents of the 1940s and 1950s also served in the Second World War, carrying their experiences into Hollywood in notable, but also sometimes subtle ways.

World War II wasn't the only conflict of the 20th century, of course, and so it's not just veterans of that conflict who ended up revisiting their wartime experiences in front of or behind the lens of a camera. Veterans of the Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, and, more recently, the War on Terror, have starred in films set during those conflicts, contributing greater authenticity to those productions, as well as an added layer of emotional gravity.

10. Jerry Della Salla - Green Zone

Michael Caine A Hill In Korea The Great Escaper
Universal Pictures

Jerry Della Salla might not be the most prolific actor going, but he did have a notable role in Paul Greengrass' underrated Iraq War thriller, Green Zone, which co-starred Matt Damon. Set during the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of the country, Green Zone focuses on the botched intel regarding Saddam Hussein's suspected Weapons of Mass Destruction program, which served as a key pretext for military action.

Della Salla starred in Green Zone as Platoon Sergeant Wilkins, a member of Damon's CBRN unit stationed in Baghdad during and in the immediate aftermath of the initial coalition invasion. Della Salla had trained as an actor in the 1990s and starred in several independent films, but decided to enlist in the United States Army following the September 11 attacks. He first saw combat in Iraq, most notably in the Battle of Abu Ghraib, before eventually he returned to the U.S. and resumed his acting career, working as both a technical advisor and as an actor on multiple productions.

Of these, Green Zone is arguably the one that has landed closest to Della Salla's wartime record. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in 2018, the former sergeant spoke candidly of his experience shooting Green Zone, recalling exchanges with crewmembers who were oblivious to his service, as well as shooting sequences that hit close to home:

"On the set it was a hodgepodge of looting and things imploding all around you, and it sounded like real artillery fire... “It was a challenge to deal with all of that again, and I’m thankful as an actor I was able to get through it. It was surreal, restorative and therapeutic.”
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Content Producer/Presenter

Resident movie guy at WhatCulture who used to be Comics Editor. Thinks John Carpenter is the best. Likes Hellboy a lot. Can usually be found talking about Dad Movies on his Twitter at @EwanRuinsThings.