Gooding is all decked out for ‘Pearl Harbor’

Posted on Feb 5, 2000

Cuba Gooding Jr. just can’t escape the Navy.

In the first casting for Disney’s “Pearl Harbor,” Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. — who next stars in Fox 2000’s “Navy Diver” — is in final negotiations to come aboard the Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay megabudgeted project.

The project has also garnered the interest of Kevin Costner, who is due to begin shooting the indie pic “3,000 Miles to Graceland” next month. The actor was expected to segue into Mandalay Pictures’ “Beyond Borders” for director Oliver Stone. However, “Borders” co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones fell out of the project last month, and the producers have not yet secured a female lead, thus pushing back the planned start date.

The Bruckheimer-produced “Pearl Harbor” will be directed by Bay from a script by Randall Wallace (“Braveheart”). The project will go before the cameras in April or May and shoot for about six months.

With “Harbor” proceeding full steam ahead, Gooding will take the smaller but pivotal role of the ship’s Dorie Miller, a mess attendant third class who was serving on the U.S.S. West Virginia when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Like many sailors in the segregated U.S. Navy of World War II, Miller was assigned to kitchen duty. Navy archives say the powerfully built Texan was collecting laundry when the Sunday morning attack began.

Historical accounts show that two bombs hit the West Virginia deck, and the battleship suffered below-deck flooding as her crew endured five torpedo hits to the port side. During this, Miller carried wounded sailors to safety, helped the ship’s fatally wounded captain and then fired an anti-aircraft machine gun at Japanese planes for some 15 minutes until the gun’s ammunition was spent and abandon ship orders were given.

Surviving the attack, Miller’s unbridled courage earned him the Navy Cross in 1942. The war hero died in 1943 when the escort carrier he was serving on was torpedoed during the U.S. invasion of the Gilbert Islands. In 1973, a Navy frigate was named the U.S.S. Miller.

Gooding Jr., repped by CAA, won a best supporting actor Oscar for his role in “Jerry Maguire.”

(Hollywood Reporter)