Eighty Four resident, firearms expert a part of ‘American Rust’ crew

Award-winning actors Tom Cruise and Jeff Daniels have learned a thing or two from Eighty Four resident Dale McCue.

McCue is a police technical adviser for movies and television shows. He’s hired to teach actors everything from the basics of firing a gun to the importance of how to safely handle weapons.

“I have had to train actors and actresses who have never handled a weapon before,” said McCue, a former policeman in the Pittsburgh area. “So it’s about getting them comfortable with the weapon and building their confidence.”

McCue’s most recent job was for the television series “American Rust,” which premieres Sept. 12 at 10 p.m. on Showtime. Daniels plays chief of police Del Harris in a Rust Belt town in Southwestern Pennsylvania, where filming was done.

“American Rust” was scheduled for production in 2020 but the pandemic forced it to be delayed until early this year.

Beginning in January, a lot of his work was done remotely through virtual meetings.

Once in-person training was permitted, he was on-site with the cast and crew. He said one of the actors traveled from Los Angeles to spend extra time familiarizing himself with the weapons.

McCue said he is a big fan of Daniels.

“He has been wonderful to work with,” McCue said. “He is such a fantastic actor and well respected in the business. He was open to learning new things and wanted to make it as authentic as possible.”

Courtesy of Dale McCue

Dale McCue on the set of “Manhunt: Deadly Games,” which was shown on Netflix and CBS.

During filming they use both real and facsimile weapons.

“It’s important to work with someone with Dale’s real-world experience to help ensure the authenticity of a scene involving technical aspects of policing,” said Dan Futterman, creator, executive producer and showrunner of “American Rust,” via email. “His expertise made our production stronger and helped bring those scenes to life.”

McCue previously worked on a Lifetime film about a school shooting in Georgia, called “Faith Under Fire.” He was a SWAT operator in “Jack Reacher,” the Cruise film about a homicide investigator who digs deeper into a case involving a trained military sniper who shot five random victims. McCue handled some technical questions in the film. McCue said having the expertise is important because laws and procedures are not the same in every state. Courtroom procedures may also be different. He knows the details of each situation.

One thing that is the same across the board is no matter what firearm is being used — real or fake — each is treated like a real, loaded weapon.

McCue said he also stresses the importance of actors wearing a police duty belt. It’s an officer’s tool belt — holding a pistol, a radio, a collapsible baton and handcuffs.

McCue encourages them to wear the belt and not just when they are on set. It takes time to get used to it to where it feels like it’s a part of the character.

“It should become a normal part of your outfit,” McCue said. “They have to learn to move around with the belt on. Some people watching can tell if a scene looks authentic. That makes everything look more realistic.”

In addition to his adviser job, McCue owns Cruisin’ Tikis Pittsburgh, a company that offers sightseeing tours on the Allegheny, Ohio and Monongahela rivers in huts with thatched roofs and bamboo poles. He owns the business with fiancée, Joa Campise, which allows him flexible scheduling to be available for filming.

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062, jharrop@triblive.com or via Twitter .