Saturday, October 27, 2012

‘Iron Man 3′ star visits Battleship North Carolina

USNR (Ret.) Capt. Wilbur D. Jones Jr., actor Sir Ben Kingsley, Phoebe Bragg and Capt. Terry Bragg, executive director of the Battleship North Carolina, pose for a photo aboard the battleship on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012. Photo courtesy of Wilbur D. Jones

Wilmington’s Battleship North Carolina had a special visitor on Sunday: Academy-Award winning actor and “Iron Man 3″ villain Ben Kingsley.

The 68-year-old Brit, in Wilmington for his role as The Mandarin in the locally filmed Disney/Marvel production, requested a private tour of the historic landmark, the Battleship’s executive director Capt. Terry Bragg said.

The vessel, which was the first battleship built for World War II, is one of the most well-preserved battleships from that era, Bragg said.

“That’s what Ben said he couldn’t believe — he couldn’t get over the state of preservation,” Bragg said. “He didn’t slow down. He had spent a great deal of time researching the Battleship and he was gracious and excited.”

The actor was interested in the ship’s heritage in part, because he’s doing research for “Jutland 1916,” a film about an epic World War I naval battle, said Capt. Wilbur D. Jones Jr. USNR (Ret.), a Wilmington native and an authority in military history who attended the tour.

“Iron Man 3,” which has been filming in the Wilmington area on and off since late May, ramped up production again last week.

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