4, 2006. Lafayette Native
Stars in Upcoming Kevin Costner Movie
by HERMAN FUSELIER
GETTING PHYSICAL In the opening scene of the upcoming movie,
The Guardian, Kevin Costner
is legendary Coast Guard rescuer Ben Randall, fighting
to save a
drowning woman. The woman's boat has capsized in
a howling storm in the
Bering Sea. The delirious woman is uncontrollable as
she clings to life with all
her might. But suddenly, the action stops. She looks
at the camera and
yells, "Geaux Cajuns!"
Not really, but this drowning woman could have.
She's USL (now UL) and
Lafayette High graduate Leigh Hennessy. Hennessy
is an accomplished
actress and stuntwoman who's worked in dozens of
films, TV programs and
But The Guardian presents the most recognizable
role of her career. The
drowning woman scene is not quite the glamorous,
she was expecting. "I'm drenching wet, with
no make-up on and screaming
and yelling," said Hennessy. "I'm very
hysterical, which is not the way
I normally am. "Since most of the work I do
is stunt work, I double for
other actors. But in this case, I'm playing myself,
Stunts are business as usual for Hennessy, who has
worked in Spiderman
II, Planet of the Apes, Teaching Mrs. Tingle and
Mighty Joe Young. She
was Demi Moore's stunt double in G.I. Jane and stood
in for Tea Leoni
in Bad Boys.
She took a 90-foot fall off a roof for Lucy Lui
in Charlie's Angels.
She also played Sylvia Mullens in a recent episode
of CSI titled Daddy's
But Hennessy said the Guardian stunt was the most
of her career. Usually, her falls and fights in
movie scenes are over
in seconds. But the drowning scene required Hennessy
to spend 12 hours
in a massive pool, which was built in Shreveport
after Hurricane Katrina
derailed filming in New Orleans. The pool produced
9-foot waves and was
surrounded by wind and rain machines to simulate
Hennessy limited her diet to motion sickness medicine
and crackers to
ward off seasickness. "I didn't get sick, which
I was really happy
about," said Hennessy. "But just imagine
swimming in 9-foot waves for 12
hours. We came out every now and then to the bench,
which was actually
some scaffolding we could stand on, on the side
of the tank. So it wasn't
all 12 hours in the water, but it was brutal.
"I truly felt it was a huge accomplishment
that day. One of the reasons
I got the job was they were confident I could do
it. I was very happy
that I was able to do it."
she get that job?
activity has always been part of Leigh Hennessy's
was a world champion trampolinist at then-USL and
is listed in the
Guinness Book of World Records for winning the most
United States women's
After graduating from USL with a master's degree
Hennessy worked for Congressman Jimmy Hayes in Washington,
But she missed her physical activities and soon
moved to California.
While training in Van Nuys, Hennessy met some performers
her to pursue a stunt career.
The move paid off immediately. Hennessy landed a
shoot with renowned
fashion photographer Bruce Weber and a commercial
for Ralph Lauren
Hennessy started her stunt career training in martial
circus acrobatics and more. She now has a gentler
routine that includes
weightlifting, bike riding, Pilates and trampolining.
Hennessy says physical activity will always
be a part of her life.
"I get a big
thrill about of being strong," said Hennessy.
some sort of adrenaline about wow, I can jump that
Just the sheer strength that it takes to do the
things we do is
something I enjoy."
Costner Dives Into Role Of Rescuer
By BOB ROSS
The Tampa Tribune
Published: Sep 29, 2006
our country's armed forces, the Coast Guard
is the branch that specializes in lifesaving.
And, according to the storm-tossed action-drama
"The Guardian," no military training
is more rigorous than the grueling course
that turns a Coast Guardsman into a rescue
swimmer. That's a person who jumps from a
helicopter into frigid, frothing ocean waters
to fetch stranded victims of shattered vessels.
Kevin Costner stars as Ben Randall, the strongest,
smartest, most dedicated rescuer in the service.
The movie opens with a frantic action sequence:
Ben plunges into a freezing Bering Sea (he's
stationed in Kodiak, Alaska) to save a couple
whose boat capsized.
Amid the roar of waves, thunder and torrential
rain, Ben finds the victims, swims to them
and signals his colleagues in the chopper
to lower a basket to haul them up one at a
The sequence is tense enough without further
mishap. But the husband (stuntman Tanner Gill)
panics, madly grabbing at Ben and scrambling
into the rescue rig ahead of his struggling
wife (Leigh Hennessy, also a stunt person),
who promptly slips into the dark depths.
Ben not only has to dive deep to find the
woman, he also has to administer CPR to get
her breathing again.
Ben's next mission is a disaster - especially
since it comes right after his bored, impatient
wife Helen (Sela Ward) announces that his
workaholic ways are forcing her to leave him.
And because he's one of the oldest rescue
swimmers ever, Ben is reassigned to train
new rescue swimmers at the facility where
he set all the house swimming records as a
The Louisiana location is a coincidence. The
Coast Guard was one of the only government
agencies to perform admirably immediately
after Hurricane Katrina, and filming was being
planned for New Orleans when the storm struck.
They moved to Shreveport. The stunning ocean
rescue sequences were shot in a 750,000-gallon
tank with a giant blue screen behind it. Director
Andrew Davis (see Worth the Rent, Page 42)
and his effects crew deliver spectacular visuals
- the most impressive since "The Perfect
Ashton Kutcher plays what you might call the
Richard Gere role (see "An Officer and
a Gentleman"). He's Jake Fischer, a cocky
varsity swimming champ who figures he'll soon
outstrip Ben's performance records. He's wrong,
of course, and the film's long midsection
is a predictable but well-played series of
clashes between teacher and student. They
gradually discover they have more in common
than either expects, and the process culminates
in the movie's most hazardous duty of all.
Ben's wife and Jake's girlfriend (Melissa
Sagemiller) are minor distractions. The female
who makes a real impression is Bonnie Bramlett,
the veteran rock singer who plays the worldly
wise owner of the guys' favorite bar.