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The Forgotten


Lee Tergesen plays an NSA (National Security Agency) agent named Al Petalis in this movie with a twist. 

It's part science fiction, part government conspiracy, part detective mystery, part psychological drama. 

Lee's character is among the few who know the dangerous secret behind some mysterious disappearances. He also makes a very dramatic exit.

The main character is Telly Paretta (played by Julianne Moore), who is mourning a son she lost in a plane crash 14 months earlier. However, no one but Telly seems to remember that she had a son. Her therapist and husband finally tell her that, basically, it's all in her head and that she never had a child at all.

She doesn't buy it, and sets off to find proof. Along the way, she joins up with Ash Correll (Dominic West), a man whose daughter also disappeared in the plane crash.

The two become fugitives, and Lee first appears in a chase scene as he and other NSA agents pursue Telly and Ash and search through a field in the darkness. 

Agent Petalis is seen again shortly thereafter with another agent (played by Robert Wisdom, who is with Lee in "Cracker"). 

The NSA agents are at a crime scene where Telly and Ash have struck a man with their car. The impact should have killed -- or at least seriously injured -- the man, but he got up and walked away. The police, led by Detective Anne Pope (Alfre Woodard), wonder what the NSA is doing there. The NSA agents are evasive, and when she mentions the missing children, Petalis declares, "There are no children."

Lee's best scene, of course, is his last. He has followed Telly and Ash to a remote cabin. But they capture him, tie him up and try to get information out of him. Ash uses brute force, threatening the agent with a fire poker to get him to talk. Telly takes a softer tack, appealing to his sense of humanity and emotions as a father.

Petalis starts out by insisting once again that "there are no children... forget about the children." Telly berates him for this comment, and Ash swings the fire iron through the seat of the chair Petalis is tied to.

The threats persuade Petalis to say, "It's not me; it's not us... we ... cooperate... for survival."

It's dawning on Ash that the alien theory Telly had espoused is true. He demands to know "where are they from, why do they want the children."

Petalis raises his voice and tells them, "The truth won't fit in your brain." He proceeds to reveal that all of this was part of an "experiment" and that they were supposed to "forget like everyone else." 

Lee's No. 1 fan, Anne, describes Lee's defining moment in this scene best:

Telly asks him if he has children. He gives an anguished sigh, looks away for a moment and says, "Yes." I could feel this man's agony coming off of him in waves. Just a single word and the expression on his face conveyed so much of what he was feeling. Guilt, fear for his own child, and sadness for what Telly was going through.

Finally, Telly leans in close to him, whispers, "No one will know that you told us." Of course, Agent Petalis knows differently. He says, simply, "They're listening."

Then, whoosh, Agent Petalis is gone. 

Movie Gallery

Looking for
Telly and Ash

NSA at the crime scene

At the cabin:
(promotional photo)
Questioned 1
Questioned 2
Pain // Anguish
Fire poker
Telling Telly

Photo of Lee from movie premiere Sept. 21, 2004

Video clips via Yahoo:

Lee's final scene

Movie trailer

Agent Al Petalis'
NSA ID badge, 
with photo of Lee
from "Rosie" magazine!

Related Links

IMDb // Wikipedia

Available on DVD