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Thu, Jun 24, 2004

Hollywood Joins Abe Underway to Film 'Stealth'

Feature Film Crew On Board For Action Thriller

USS Abraham Lincoln welcomed aboard more than 80 people from Columbia Pictures and Backbreaker Films, actors Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Sam Shepard and director Rob Cohen for the filming of the major motion picture, "Stealth," in June.

Abe's flight deck hosted 12 squadrons for carrier qualifications and the film crew, along with a 53-foot-long futuristic stealth fighter named "Talon."

"Filming a major Hollywood movie during flight (operations) is a very tricky and different thing," said Cohen. "This is real life out here, and it’s amazing that the Navy is allowing us to be here and bring our own aircraft on the ship."

Cohen also acknowledged the Navy for allowing the current movie to see the light of day. "I’m very grateful to the Navy for this. The Navy passed every page of the script, so they feel good about it, and I feel good about what this film will say about the Navy."

In the film, Navy officials decide to use an unmanned version of the "Talon," but when one of the planes begins attacking friendly forces, Navy pilots are called in to save the planet from artificial intelligence.

Although the plot may sound far-fetched to some, Cohen found out firsthand that filming aboard Lincoln is very real.

"I have a deeper appreciation for what (the crew) does on the Lincoln," Cohen said. After spending his first night aboard the warship, Cohen had a startling experience that awoke him from a sound sleep.

"They primed the catapults about two in the morning, and I thought, 'Oh my God, we’ve been torpedoed!' I jumped so high out of my bunk that I hit my head on the shelf," he said.

Adjusting to life on the 97,000-ton carrier also proved to be difficult for some of the cast.

"I’ve been lost every day," Biel said. "I still can’t get to my room. I have to ask people all of the time just to help me find the bathroom, but it’s been incredible how helpful everyone has been."

Biel, who plays Lt. Kara Wade, the only female pilot in the stealth squadron, also expressed her appreciation for the hard work of Abe’s crew. "You really have no idea how hard everybody works until you come on to a carrier," Biel said. "The teamwork on this ship is absolutely amazing."

Teamwork seemed to be the word of the week, as both the movie and ship’s crews worked together to complete the ship’s mission and lend a hand in the production.
Abe Sailors were given numerous opportunities throughout the week to be extras in the film and share the spotlight with the Hollywood lineup. Donning float coats and cranials, the Sailors, producers and actors looked alike on the flight deck as the cameras rolled.

"In my 16 years in the Navy, this is one of the top things I’ve done," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (AW) Anthony Whetstone, of Abe’s safety department.

Whetstone, an Alexander City, Ala., native, was an extra with a speaking role during one of the production’s night scenes, and was grateful to have such an opportunity. "Nothing like this has ever happened to me before," he said.

Foxx, who plays the role of Lt. Henry Purcell, said Abe’s crew was a big help during the filming and commented on their hard work. "This really changes your perspective on things, when you get a chance to see from the ground up how hard these men and women work," he said.

"The crew was really down to Earth," Whetstone said. "I was surprised to find out that they were just like us."

Whetstone’s thoughts seemed to be echoed by Abe’s crew throughout the week.

Meanwhile, the film crew couldn’t seem to give enough praise to Lincoln Sailors.

"Thank God for these decent people that are on this ship doing the job they do," Cohen said. "I have a deep appreciation for Sailors and what (they) do for people like me who live in the freedom (they) secure."

(ANN salutes Journalist Seaman Michael Cook, USS Abraham Lincoln Public Affairs)

FMI: www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn72

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