NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The National World War II Museum rolled out the red carpetTuesday for actor Tom Hanks and the stars of a new HBO miniseriesset during that war.
Hanks is an executive producer of "The Pacific," a 10-partminiseries which follows three U.S. Marines fighting in the PacificTheater during World War II.
Hanks joined the miniseries' stars - James Badge Dale, Jon Sedaand Joe Mazzello - for a screening of the first episode at city'sconvention center, followed by a reception at the New Orleans
Hanks also teamed up with "The Pacific" executive producersSteven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman on HBO's "Band of Brothers," a2001 miniseries set in Europe during World War II.
"The Pacific," which debuts on HBO on March 14, depicts some ofthe war's bloodiest battles, including Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima andOkinawa. Dale, Seda and Mazzello each play real-life men who foughtin the Pacific campaign.
"There are three main characters that we follow, so therefore wegot to be even more personal than we were in Band of Brothers. Soin a weird way by focusing on less characters by number, we wereable to expand the scope," Hanks said while on the red carpetoutside the convention center.
Before the 10-month shoot started in Australia, the cast endureda grueling 10-day "boot camp" under the direction of Dale Dye, anactor and military advisor whose screen credits include "SavingPrivate Ryan." They also met with relatives of the men theyportrayed and veterans who fought in the battles portrayed in theminiseries.
"These are the guys we're doing it for," said Dale, who playsthe late Robert Leckie. "This is their story. These are the men whohave been there."
Mazzello, who plays the late Eugene Sledge, said his grandfatherfought in the Pacific and died during the miniseries' filming.
"Before he died, he got to know that I was going to be doingthis and I was going to be honoring men like him," he said.
Seda downplayed comparisons between the two miniseries, saying"The Pacific" shows a different side of war than "Band ofBrothers."
"We're just trying to keep in line with what they started, whichwas to honor all the men on both sides, from the Pacific to Europe,and honor all the men who sacrificed," he said.
Sid Phillips, 85, of Mobile, Ala., who is portrayed by AshtonHolmes in the miniseries, was 17 years old when he fought onGuadalcanal. He said he was struck by how the miniseries actuallycaptured what he remembers about the war, including the density andwetness of the jungle.
"War movies are never accurate to war veterans but I think thisis maybe the best one I've seen so far," Phillips said.
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