Marine turned actor Rob Riggle has unique connection to new movie and character he plays

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Sept. 11, 2001 is a day our country will never forget and one many remember exactly where they were when they first heard the tragic news including a popular actor from the metro.

Overland Park native Rob Riggle recently sat down with FOX4's Shawn Edwards to chat about his new movie "12 Strong" and his personal connection to the real people it is based on.

The Marine, who plays Lt. Col. Max Bowers, says he actually worked with him in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The uniform has a smell to it and a feel to it," Riggle said. "It was a transformation back to--you know how you hear a song and you remember, instantly you're back in high school or whatever. I put that back on and all of a sudden I was right back there."

Riggle said he remembers being in New York City. He had just left active duty and was serving in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. His unit was the only reserve unit in Manhattan at the time.

Riggle's unit reported to ground zero the day after the attacks to remove rubble as crews searched for survivors. By November of that year Riggle was en route to Afghanistan where he joined the unit featured in the film "12 Strong." He reported directly to Lt. Col. Max Bowers, the character he plays.

Riggle said other actors involved in the film often picked his brain about what really happened.

"They want to know everything they can because every bit of information and thought and tonality and mindset and anything that they can get their hands on that you want as an actor because it just feeds your performance and what you can bring to the character."

Watch Riggle use his own words to describe the experience in the video player above. FOX4 film critic Shawn Edwards said this was one of the best interviews he's conducted during his lengthy career in the movie industry.