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Some of the other real characters include Lewis Lastik, Jerry Harris ('Rev'), Ronnie Bass ('Sunshine'), Petey Jones and Darryl Stanton ('Blue'). Ray Budds, Alan Bosley as well as Bertier's girlfriend. Emma Hoyt, are fictional personalities.

Casting these characters proved a challenge for the filmmakers. "It's difficult to find actor's who are young enough and still have the acting ability necessary for these roles," says Yakin. "We also had to take size into consideration. These guys are football players and had to be big and at least somewhat athletic. Donald Faison who plays Petey, for example, he took a couple of big hits on the field."

"We were looking for honesty," says Bruckheimer. "Actors who could portray characters, but who could also bring themselves to the part, not simply be acting. I think it's easier for kids to do that. They're less inhibited than most adults.

"We were also hooking to put together an ensemble," the producer notes. "Obviously we were looking for good actors, but some who hadn't been given a chance yet. I like finding new faces, and this film gave me the opportunity to discover a few more up and comers. Boaz looked at a lot of young hopefuls and settled on this group. I think we'll see them around for a long time."

"Lewie and Rev represent the ability to see past everything." says Yakin. "It's because of their comfort with each other that a sort of domino effect starts to happen and the rest of the boys are able to fall in."

Craig Kirkwood plays Jerry Harris, nicknamed the Reverend or Rev. As the team's quarterback, Rev not only reads the opponents' game and makes instant decisions for his team, he also acts as the conscience of the group.

Kirkwood had played basketball in high school, but he'd never spent time on the football field. "I played street ball as a kid," he says. "But I'd never played anything like this. I was convinced someone had a contract out on all of us during football camp. They really tried to kill us," he jokes.

"I loved the fact that Boaz allowed us to improvise and use the tools we've been given," he says. "And working with Denzel was a rare opportunity. How often do you get the chance to work with a childhood hero?"

Rev's new friend, lineman Lewie Lastik is someone who has grown up with people from all races. He has no problem fitting in with anyone and provides some of the comic relief as the drama unfolds.

"Lewie's from the poor section of town," notes actor Ethan Suplee. "He doesn't really fit in with anybody, so it's actually easier for him to be with everybody, black or white. And he starts off by mocking Coach Boone and his demand for authority, which probably wins every one over."

"He's really not a good football player," Suphee says of his character. "He just likes to knock people down and have a good time."

Ronnie Bass was another transplant new to Alexandria. As a kid who grew up in a military family, Ronnie came to the team a little late in the game when he transferred to T.C. Williams. A longhaired surfer from California, the black players immediately dubbed him 'Sunshine.'

Kip Pardue plays the handsome quarterback with a killer arm. One of the only actors to have played competitive football, Pardue was a wide receiver at his high school in Atlanta as well as during his college years at Yale University.

"My character is a good football player who's being shopped around," explains Pardue. "He's being recruited to play on the best team in the area, which seems like it might be an

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