By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN
Associated Press Writer
The National World War II Museum rolled out the red carpet Tuesday for actor Tom Hanks and the stars of a new HBO miniseries set during that war.
Hanks is an executive producer of ‘The Pacific,’ a 10-part miniseries which follows three U.S. Marines fighting in the Pacific Theater during World War II.
Hanks joined the miniseries’ stars – James Badge Dale, Jon Seda and Joe Mazzello – for a screening of the first episode at city’s convention center, followed by a reception at the New Orleans museum.
Hanks also teamed up with ‘The Pacific’ executive producers Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman on HBO’s ‘Band of Brothers,’ a 2001 miniseries set in Europe during World War II.
‘The Pacific,’ which debuts on HBO on March 14, depicts some of the war’s bloodiest battles, including Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Dale, Seda and Mazzello each play real-life men who fought in the Pacific campaign.
“There are three main characters that we follow, so therefore we got to be even more personal than we were in Band of Brothers. So in a weird way by focusing on less characters by number, we were able to expand the scope,” Hanks said while on the red carpet inside the convention center.
Before the 10-month shoot started in Australia, the cast endured a grueling 10-day “boot camp” under the direction of Dale Dye, an actor and military advisor whose screen credits include ‘Saving Private Ryan.’ They also met with relatives of the men they portrayed and veterans who fought in the battles portrayed in the miniseries.
“These are the guys we’re doing it for,” said Dale, who plays the late Robert Leckie. “This is their story. These are the men who have been there.”
Mazzello, who plays the late Eugene Sledge, said his grandfather fought in the Pacific and died during the miniseries’ filming.
“Before he died, he got to know that I was going to be doing this 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 of Brothers.’
“We’re just trying to keep in line with what they started, which was 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 Ashton Holmes in the miniseries, was 17 years old when he fought on Guadalcanal. He said he was struck by how the miniseries actually captured what he remembers about the war, including the density and wetness of the jungle.
“War movies are never accurate to war veterans but I think this is maybe the best one I’ve seen so far,” Phillips said.
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