WASHINGTON -- Military members from the area and patients from the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., were invited to a special premiere of the summer blockbuster "Stealth" July 19 at a downtown theater here.
About 250 sailors and a few members of the other military services were on hand to see the movie. Attending the premiere were actress Jessica Biel, director Rob Cohen, producer Neal H. Moritz and members of Congress.
"Stealth," opens nationwide July 29. It's an action thriller about a squadron of elite pilots on a mission to neutralize an out-of-control prototype drone fighter plane equipped with the ability to precipitate a nuclear war. Biel plays Lt. Kara Wade, one of only a handful of female fighter pilots in the world.
Playing a woman in the military was a challenge for Biel, she said, because she knew very little about the Navy before filming this movie.
"I didn't know much about what these men and women really go through," she said. "I really had to try, in a really small amount of time, to understand how to portray this person. People are now going to see female pilots the way I portrayed this woman, and I just wanted to do the best job that I could."
Learning about the military life gave Biel a new appreciation for the men and women serving the country, she said.
"I know now I couldn't do it," she said. "I have a completely different view of it. I have major respect and major admiration."
Cohen said he directed this movie because he felt there was a need to show how the Navy has changed since it was depicted in "Top Gun" in 1986. He wasn't worried about making this movie during a time of war, because the issues brought up in the movie are true and relevant, he said.
"In a time of war, solutions to the future of war start to emerge that may or may not be right," he said. "And by the time it's clear that they're not right, they're reality."
To servicemembers fighting the war on terror, and those supporting them from the U.S., Biel had a message of gratitude and support.
"All the men and women who are serving our country - thank you so much," she said. "We support you and we wouldn't be able to live the life that we have without you."