By Aly Semigran
January 12, 2012 at 11:00 PM EST
Todd Williamson/

It’s hard to imagine a scenario as harrowing as the one the characters in the upcoming action thrilled The Grey have to go through after their plane crashes in the Alaska wilderness, leaving them freezing, starving, and chased by a pack of hungry wolves. But the film’s star Liam Neeson has endured his own tragic ordeals (his wife of nearly 15 years, actress Natasha Richardson died after a 2009 skiing accident), and it was that nightmare and other similar personal trials that helped the film’s actors bond as they embarked on their own cinematic adventure.

On the red carpet of the film’s premiere in Los Angeles on Wednesday night, the actors revealed to Entertainment Weekly how they helped create the right environment for their film’s nerve-wracking tone, from watching movies like Deliverance and Jaws, to sharing each other’s most private personal trials and tribulations.

“What Liam did in rehearsal was stand up and say, ‘I’m here for all of you. I’m here if you have questions, and I need your help too,’ says James Badge Dale (Shame, The Departed), explaining the cast and crew’s unique approach. “It created a culture where everyone wanted to share.”

“We shared everything,” says Neeson. “It was a fantastic group of guys.”

Fellow cast mate Frank Grillo (Warrior) concurred, “This group of guys … we shared the tragedies we had experienced. Everybody was very open about it. It kind of set the tone when the cameras weren’t rolling. I think my sharing was mostly about fear as a man that I was hiding from other people. That’s what the guy is doing in the movie, hiding from fear. Stuff that men don’t usually talk about, especially with strangers. It was a good experience because everybody felt safe. [Liam] said a lot of things. Obviously he has had a lot of tragedies in his life. And he shared about some of that. It was wonderful. I was really honored that he would trust enough to talk about that.”

The Grey opens in theaters on Jan. 27.

(Reporting by Nicholas White)

Read more:

‘The Grey’: Watch a clip of Liam Neeson from the upcoming survival flick! — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

‘The Grey’ trailer: Liam Neeson isn’t afraid of the big bad wolves

‘The Grey’ preview