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All Hands on Deck for Premiere of Submarine Thriller 'U-571'

Opening Night

April 19, 2000|KATHLEEN CRAUGHWELL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The sky was appropriately cloudy for the Monday night premiere of Universal Pictures' World War II submarine adventure film "U-571."

Stars Matthew McConaughey, Jon Bon Jovi, Bill Paxton, Erik Palladino, Jack Noseworthy and Harvey Keitel traipsed the soggy red carpet to the delight of dozens of fans, most of whom seemed to be there for a glimpse of rocker-turned-actor Bon Jovi.

At the elegant after-party in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton, the cast and director talked about the danger involved in making a realistic war picture, a subject given additional heft following the news of the Monday morning plane crash on the set of another World War II movie, Disney's "Pearl Harbor."

"Safety was first and foremost on everybody's minds," Bon Jovi said. "Every time we fired those guns, [the technical advisors] reminded us--'Those shells will hurt you, those flames will hurt you; pay attention.' "

McConaughey described the scariest moment of the production. "Bon Jovi and I were in a little 4-foot-by-4-foot steel compartment down below the deck of one of the subs and there was water leaking when an electrical fire broke out. We almost ended up being human conductors."

"Thankfully, no one got hurt, but I had to ask them all to go back in for a second take," explained director and co-writer Jonathan Mostow. "And Jon is claustrophobic, so it was especially courageous of him."

Bon Jovi described his "courage" another way: "Keitel said to me, 'Listen, Bon Jovi, get back in the box or I have to come back here and get wet tomorrow. What do you want to deal with?' I got back in the box."

Universal invited several naval officers from submarine commands based in San Diego to the premiere and the Navy men and women gave the film a hearty thumbs-up.

"Those guys did a wonderful job. It was very well done and intense, both complex and entertaining," said Eric Holloway, executive officer of the USS Bremerton. Holloway brought with him a satchel stuffed with T-shirts and baseball caps designed by one of the sailors of the Bremerton and gave them to McConaughey, Bon Jovi, Mostow and the others.

McConaughey chatted and posed for photos with the two young daughters of producers Dino and Martha De Laurentiis and their pals.

Bon Jovi, whose eponymous band will release a new album, "Crush," next month, just finished shooting his part in "Pay It Forward"--a comedy-drama with Haley Joel Osment, Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey--and is prepping for a tour that will kick off in July.

Other celebs on hand included Emilio Estevez, Bon Jovi bandmate Richie Sambora and wife Heather Locklear, Jake Busey and directors James Cameron, David Anspaugh and Adam Shankman.

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