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July 2005
Stealth : An Interview with Director Rob Cohen, Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, and Oscar Winner Jamie Foxx

Stealth: An Interview with Director Rob Cohen, Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, and Oscar Winner Jamie Foxx

By Wilson Morales

We haven't seen a high-flying air force movie with jets since possibly "Top Gun" and that was over 20 years ago. That movie produced a lot of talent but gave the audience a glimpse as to what goes on during a mission whether it's training or not. Rob Cohen most recently directed two high octane action films with "The Fast and the Furious" and "XXX", and is directing another high octane and flying pic, STEALTH. Fresh from winning the Oscar for Best Actor in "Ray", Jamie Foxx is coming back to the big screen in this film in the role of pilot Henry Purcell. Foxx, along with Josh Lucas and Jessica Biel play pilots who must work hard and fast to stop a robot plane from going off-course and starting an unnecessary war. In speaking to blackfilm.com at the 2003 San Diego Comic Con, the cast and director spoke about the views on the films and whether this is the right time to see it.

From "The Fast and the Furious" to "Stealth", what's the difference in the vehicles that you are using?

Rob Cohen: Cars are pretty much on the X, Y, axis. Aerial combat is like three dimensional chess. Since film is a two dimensional meaning, this was a challenge. First of all, you can't storyboard it. You can try, but you don't have any of the vertigo, or any depth, which comes from the v-axis. I moved it to a smaller cartoon version to try to get the feeling because the relationship between the foreground and the background is so critical; you don't get that feeling either. So, eventually I we did the early wire frame work and other stuff, we started to put those things in relationship to each other. That's when we began to feel the effect.

Jamie, can you talk about being in this after you have won the Oscar. This is the first film we will since "Ray".

Jamie Foxx: Movies come out in different time periods. When I went to do this film, we at the point of hoping to get more funding to complete "Ray" and we had just finished shooting "Collateral". This is a good movie to come into. It's fun, and this is what movies are all about. To come in and have a good time.

Did you do anything to bond?

Jessica Biel: I don't think we did anything abnormal. We had such a good time. We would go have barbecue at Josh's place and we'd go dancing and hang at the beach and go midnight swimming. It was fun. It was just normal stuff, nothing out of the ordinary.

Josh: There's a chemistry that happens that is really created by the director in a sense that we are all working on different sound stages at the same time. We're not together. It looks like we're together but there's three planes on three different sound stages and they're all being video taped at the same time, so it looks like together, but everyone's half a mile apart.

Your character seems to several layers and looks conflicted. Can you talk about doing that?

Josh: I think any good hero has all sorts of issues going on and I think what sets this movie apart in my mind is that you have this big, fun, playful action movie with some really interesting questions underneath it. The character is dealing with some pretty serious moral dilemma about this plane and about the fact that he doesn't think that humanity should be taken out of war. To have that big concept inside a rollercoaster of a film makes it easier for me to play it much more complex than just 'rah-rah' hero.

How much did you know about fighter jets before taking on this film?

Jessica: I didn't know a lot at all. I guess I had an idea that stealth means that you can't really see them but it wasn't anything technical. I didn't have any information. I didn't know much at all besides something I may have seen at Discovery. I really learned a large amount of information. Just being a part of it and going to the Lemoore Air Force Base and talking to pilots, sitting in the planes and getting an idea what could possibly be the future.

Was there any actual flying involved?

Jessica: No. None of us actually flew. Josh is the only one who could actually fly.

Josh: It's like Flight Survival Training School, which is a complex thing because in order to be qualified as a Navy to be a passenger, you have to take that school. It's about a week of extraordinary difficult training. There's a lot of underwater work inside a mock plane of helicopters that have crashed so you know how to get out of that in case you live. It's very, very challenging, but for me, I'm always fascinated by research, so Rob had me on an aircraft carrier almost the day I got the movie and lived with pilots and hung around with pilots and being around it and getting to know it every single day. That's what made it have a bit more integrity than not learning anything.

Jamie, your character seems to bring some humor into the film. Was that part of the script or did you bring that to the character?

Jamie: What do you think? (Laughs). When you start to put a film together and think about who you want to be in the film, I'm sure he was thinking about me squeezing a laugh or two, so that's all in the script.

You also mentioned this line in the film about the notion of a threesome. Was that also part of the script?

Jamie: You got to realize the talent that you're sitting with, and that's what's great because people have their own ideas and come with their own things. I call it coming with a metaphoric bag of things. So here is your character, and then here are some things that may be able to enhance it and make a difference. That's what you do. Everybody is bringing their bag to work.

What are your thoughts on computers taking over humanity as far as employment?

Rob: Well, I'll answer that. I think it's a very dangerous thing. The fact that the Navy has announced that in 2011, one-third of the combat vehicles will be pilotless by 2011, which is six years from now. A high ranking admiral told me that by 2025 there is a faction of the Navy that is pushing for an entire AI Air Force. That it is more cost effective. It doesn't take seven years to train and they think it goes down more easily with a bunch a smashed up plane parts than having body bags. I think these points are made more clearly in the movie. If you point this kind of thing in operation, robot tanks and robot soldiers; certainly the UCAVs (Unmaned Combat Aerial Vehicles) will draw on line now in Iraq, in Afghanistan, that are flying missions. They like the public to think that it's joystick but it isn't. Some of it is, but it isn't. The idea is that, ultimately, you will make war easier, not harder, because the only thing that puts a check on war is our stomach for slaughter, meaning our own boys and girls slaughtered. You take that control off the process and you get a warrior type guy in a presidential form and it won't be long before other advanced countries have that same technology. Pretty soon, you get the war of the robots, but there are a lot of other people being killed. I think it's very dangerous taking human being out of the forefront of war.

Is this the right time for this movie to come out?

Josh: I think what's so special about this movie is that there are no politics in this movie. It just shows what these guys are doing. There isn't a point of view per se other than the questioning of the sense of technology. It's not saying that this is where we are at politically or questioning it or saying it's right or anything. We're saying what these people do is their jobs.

Jessica: I feel the same. It doesn't necessarily have an opinion and it's not a film pro-war. It's not like, "Look at us, we're Americans, yeah!" This is the future possible question mark. What do you think? It's a movie asking interesting questions, bringing it up in an entertaining way and talking to a younger generation that might not even think about it yet.

STEALTH opens on July 29, 2005


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