'Lightning' Strikes Punisher Movie Set

The Lightning center and teammate Brad Richards were part of a group of local celebrities being used as extras in the movie The Punisher, which is filming downtown.
Vinny Lecavalier walked into the bathroom at the former Bank of America building in Tampa - you know, the beer can - and caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror.

Sweat that was pouring down his face also had put his hair in disarray.

It could not have happened at a more inopportune moment. The Lightning center and teammate Brad Richards were part of a group of local celebrities being used as extras in the movie The Punisher, which is filming downtown.

Between the humid west central Florida air and the lights on the set, both players were, as Richards said, "sweating bullets."

On Tuesday, a week after filming the cameos, Lecavalier lamented, all in fun, of course, that "nobody told me I looked like that."

Whether he and Richards looked GQ, or whether the scene, which both figure would provide about two seconds of face time, lands on the cutting room floor, doesn't really matter.

Not many people can say they have shaken hands with John Travolta, even if it was only part of the scene. And how many people get to be part of a major motion picture?

"An acting career? No," Richards said. "We didn't have any lines so we couldn't mess that up. All we did was shake his hand and smile. Hopefully, we're in it."

"Really exciting. A good experience," Lecavalier said. "It wasn't a big role. It was just watching (Travolta) on the set. That was the big thing for me. He's one of my favorite actors."

The Punisher is an adaptation of Marvel Comics' story of a vigilante crime fighter. Thomas Jane plays that part. Travolta plays bad guy Howard Saint, who owns the nightclub Saints and Sinners.

The entrance was constructed outside the Tampa building. The movie's casting director asked the Lightning for a couple of high-profile players to help fill out a red-carpet scene in which Travolta enters the club and shakes hands with well-wishers.

Bucs safety John Lynch also was part of the crowd.

Lecavalier said that between rehearsals and about 20 takes, the scene took about three hours to complete.

"He just came along and said, "Hey, how you doing? I'll see you inside the club,"' Lecavalier said of Travolta. "That's basically all he did."

It wasn't quite Olivier, but it was enough.

"He was pretty cool," Richards said. "And to shake his hand and stuff, it was quite an experience. He's a guy I've watched in a lot of movies so it was neat to see him and see the whole experience."

"I was just watching what he was doing, how he put himself into his character," Lecavalier said. "It was cool to watch."

If it was cool for the 23-year-old players, imagine what it will be like for their families if the scene makes the final cut.

Richards' mom, Delite, said her niece recently joked, "Where do we find out what's going on with Brad, SportsDesk or Entertainment Tonight?"

And it just so happens Lecavalier's dad, Yvon, recently watched on television "for the fourth or fifth time" Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in Grease.

"It's very special for your son to be with him in the same movie," Yvon said. "It's something for us, too."

"I'm a little jealous," Lightning defenseman Nolan Pratt said. "I'd like to do it myself. I think it would be a great experience. But if there were two guys I'd pick for the movies, it'd be those two. It's their thing. It's their style. Movies, cars, music."

Oh, and hockey.

Lecavalier said the movie is scheduled to open April 17. Asked if he will go to the premiere, he reminded his questioner that the Lightning will be in the playoffs by then.

"It'd be cool," he said of opening night at the theater, "but it's April 17, so hopefully not."
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