How lucky I am to have had a chance to work on the movie Mountain Top! For about a month and a half I worked very long days and loved every minute. Besides the family-like crew, I had the chance to spend many hours getting to know our wonderful cast on our way to and from locations around Charlotte and in the mountains of North Carolina.
Coby McLaughlin and I spent many hours discussing every topic imaginable including the taboos of world politics and religion; how radio stations work; and the fine art of the perfect iced espresso. The banter was good. A day didn’t go by without an interesting conversation. Oh, and he’s not bad to look at either! Coby has been on a ton of TV shows. One fun one was his stint as a yoga instructor on Mike & Molly. He was also successful in photo bombing almost every picture anyone took with me.
Barry Corbin has 187 credits on his IMDB (Internet Movie Database) page. To say he’s had a long and interesting career is an understatement. This is one hard-working man and he’s not slowing down anytime soon. In 2013 he has 9 projects including his work on the TV series Anger Management with Charlie and Martin Sheen. And he already has 5 projects in the can for 2014. You might remember him as Ellis in the 2007 movie No Country for Old Men.
If you’re older, he’s Maurice J. Minnifield from the 1990 – 1995 TV show Northern Exposure. Northern Exposure took place in the fictionalized eccentric small town called Cicely, in the bush of Alaska. When the show was on the air, I was co-hosting the morning show on a Classic Rock radio station in Anchorage, Alaska. One of our weekly bits was to watch the show on Monday night and call CBS on Tuesday morning to give them a list of all the things that weren’t Alaskan. We called it the Alaska Mistakes Sweepstakes. The show was shot in Washington state so we figured it was fair game for pot shots. Our listeners loved it.
People recognize Bob Gunton’s face but don’t always know his name and that’s a shame. This man is a true talent. His credits are long and include Clint Eastwood’s Trouble with the Curve; Ben Affleck’s Argo and the evil warden in The Shawshank Redemption. And those are just some of the movies. His TV credits have big names as well – Desperate Housewives; Nip/Tuck; and 24. Before his screen career, Bob was nominated for a Tony Award for his portrayal of President Juan Perón in the original Broadway production of Evita. This is one heavy hitter with an all-star cast. Patti LuPone played Eva Perón and Mandy Patinkin was Che. Yet here I am swapping recipes for roasting veggies with this sweet man. It was an honor to have a chance to get to know him a bit.
Most people these days recognize Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier from the Insidious franchise of horror movies. I know her best as Magda, from the hysterical movie There’s Something About Mary. She plays Cameron Diaz’s neighbor with skin equal to John Boehner’s orange hue. Within minutes of meeting we were cackling loudly about travel, life and boasting about our spectacular pets.
By far my favorite, most twisted stories came out of the mouth of Valerie Azlynn. We clicked immediately bragging to each other about the stupendous examples our single mothers set for us with their determination, perseverance and hard work. I love, love, love her delicious sense of humor. Here’s a gorgeous, funny, smart woman who would speak and everything that came out was a showstopper. Who could compete when she starts with surviving open heart surgery at age 13? She lived in a tiny closet of a room when she started out in New York City. It had a shelf (loft?) that held her mattress. She lost 30 pounds during that period not because she was a pretentious actress, but because she lived on $14,000 in New York City and couldn’t afford food or transportation so she walked everywhere. The stories got more outrageous from there. They would make great fiction except they are true. Valerie aspires to be an opera singer. She still has a couple of years before her voice “matures” so in the meantime, she’s in the TBS series Sullivan and Son.
You can get a taste of her personality from when she appeared on the The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. She gave me a behind the scenes look at what it’s like to be a guest on his show. Henry Winkler was another guest the day she was on. The producers sit you in a room and have guests watch a week’s worth of previous shows so you know what’s been going on. That week, they had been doing a bit where everyone speaks German when Craig rings a bell. See her segment here.
Danny Vinson is another actor whose face you probably know. His credits include Brad Pitt’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Will Ferrell’s Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby; and the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line. He played Elder Dan in another Will Ferrell flick The Campaign. Danny told me that he had no idea there would be snakes in his scene and he was happy he didn’t know until the last minute. He’s not a fan of snakes.
Another cast member Sydney Penny, probably best known to soap opera fans as Julia Santos Keifer on All My Children but she also played young Meggie Cleary in the blockbuster TV mini-series The Thorn Birds.
Clifton Powell includes Ray in his more than 170 movie and television credits. One of the women at the front desk of the hotel where some of the cast were staying was speechless when he came to check in. She wasn’t forewarned so when he arrived, she said in her head, “That looks like Clifton Powell.” When he took off his sunglasses she knew it was him and froze, giddy with excitement. Luckily for him, someone else was checking him in.
Mountain Top is in post production. Of course I’ll post when and where it will be shown as soon as I know.