Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 04/10/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
For movie producers, the prospect of filming a movie in Manitoba can be daunting, despite seasoned crews and aggressive tax incentives. The fly in the ointment is the absence of a direct flight from Winnipeg to and from Los Angeles or New York City. It tars the province with a reputation for "isolation."
Let it be known that actor Thomas Haden Church doesn't have a problem with isolation. The 53-year-old actor who has dabbled in TV sitcoms (Wings), acclaimed indie comedies (Sideways) and even superhero movies (Spider-Man 3) likes his privacy.
"I live in the middle of nowhere on a ranch," Church says, referring to an 800-hectare ranch in Bandera County, Texas.
"So isolation for me is synonymous with peace and contentment."
That made it a pleasure to shoot Heaven Is for Real in southern Manitoba last year, he says.
The film is based on the real-life experiences of Nebraska minister Todd Burpo and his son Colton. But in the role of Todd's best friend, bank manager Jay Wilkins, Church had no real-life corollary character to study.
"He's just sort of an aggregate character," Church says, adding that he has no shortage of role models for playing a guy who has his friend's back.
"That kind of guy is around me all the time whenever I'm home," Church says. "I would say most of my friends in Texas are like that dude. If I need them in an emergency, I know they'll be there."
Celebrating that kind of brotherly love is what drew Church to the adaptation of Burpo's book, which he only knew from its reputation in the Christian enclaves of small-town Texas.
"I wasn't looking to do a Christian film," he says. "But last year, when the script came to me and I read it, there was just something in me that said I need to explore this a little bit more.
"And I had such a great experience on it," he says. "Randall Wallace, the writer-director, just created this warm, honest open, positive set and everybody was pushing forward to be truthful and true to the book."
Off the set, Church got to indulge his penchant for solitary exploration.
"I lead a fairly lonesome existence," he says. "I have a ranch, there's a town about 40 miles away and I have a home there where my daughters live with their mother, so when I need daughterly companionship, it's available."
For that reason, Church says he wasn't any kind of social butterfly while shooting Heaven Is for Real.
"I spent a lot of time driving around in the country," he says. "I like driving around. I do that a lot when I'm in a city I'm not familiar with.
"Because I'm a rancher, I'm just fascinated with farming," he says. "I had never really experienced agricultural plains like that, the vast flatness of the farms. It's quite different from Texas."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 10, 2014 C6
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg acknowledged as classic by Criterion
Horrors of Hollywood
Zellweger is aging — how dare she!
Latest teen horror flick will leave you bored
Lupita Nyong'o seeks Va. slave-trade preservation
Maddin's 'My Winnipeg' gets Criterion treatment
'You have reached Bill Murray; at the tone, pitch your movie'
Local filmmaker gives life to footage
Björk's human nature shines through multimedia overload
Bill Murray’s reliable grumpiness gives sharp edge to sentimental premise
Everybody was gun-fu fighting, and Keanu was fast as lightning
Pot activist documentary will harsh your mellow
Shailene Woodley on 'White Bird' nudity
New on DVD
Keanu Reeves knows his way around a fight scene, whether he's using a sword or a shotgun
Keanu Reeves on milestones and 'John Wick'
Q&A: Poitras on capturing history in a hotel room
Simmons connects with character in 'Whiplash'
Review: 'John Wick' delivers non-stop action
Review: A twist on the man-child romp in 'Laggies'
Actress Daniele Watts charged with lewd conduct
Police contacted actress before she was found dead
'Birdman' director flies through fear
Paul Gross among Screenie honourees
Cost of making 'Hobbit' movies up to $745 million
'Fury' defeats 'Gone Girl' in box-office battle
Sale of Joan Fontaine's house to aid animal group
Juliette Binoche on '1,000 Times Good Night'
'Fury' blasts 'Gone Girl' from top of box office
Thicke celebrates his divorce
Keanu kills as John Wick