New movie 'Hacksaw Ridge' stirs interest in Lynchburg native

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) A new film directed by Mel Gibson is putting Lynchburg and one of its native sons on national movie screens.

"Hacksaw Ridge" features the story of Desmond Doss, a war hero who was largely unknown in his hometown until recently.

Lynchburg Museum Director Doug Harvery prides himself on knowing just about everything about Lynchburg's past, but even he was stumped when Doss's name came up a few years ago.

"I grew up here and I had not heard of Desmond Doss," Harvey told WDBJ7.

Doss grew up off Campbell Avenue in Lynchburg. He was a Seventh Day Advenist and a conscientious objector, which made him the object of ridicule at home and while serving during World War II.

"He was also a vegetarian, which people found very odd back then," Harvey explained. "It wasn't until he was treating the wounded in the Pacific theater that all of a sudden people around him realized what an incredible and special person he is."

Doss saved 75 of his fellow soldiers in combat, without ever carrying a weapon. His bravery and heroism is depicted in "Hacksaw Ridge."

Since word of the film got out last year, Harvey says people have contacted the museum to learn more about Doss.

"We've gotten a number of phone calls and emails," Harvey said.

One of the people who contacted him was a voice coach who was working on Hacksaw Ridge. She wanted to teach actors like Andrew Garfield, who depicts Doss, how to talk like someone from Central Virginia.

"It was fun talking to them and trying to give them some idea of what we sound like in these parts," said Harvey.

Although Hacksaw Ridge was filmed in Australia, a mock version of Lynchburg is featured in the movie.

Harvey hopes Doss story will inspire people to learn about the "real" Lynchburg.

"As people get interested in Lynchburg and Desmond's history, we'll be able to show them more about Central Virginia and what happened here in the past," said Harvey.

"Hacksaw Ridge" opens in theaters nationwide Friday.