Extra excitement: Natchez sees itself in trailer to Brown film ‘Get On Up’
NATCHEZ — It wasn’t Leigh Anne Mason’s face she saw onscreen in the recently released trailer for the James Brown biopic “Get On Up,” but she did spot something else.
“I saw my leg,” she said, laughing. “I know where I was standing, so I knew it was my leg.”
Mason was cast as an extra in a country club scene filmed at Dunleith.
Her leg notwithstanding, Mason said she was overwhelmed with excitement when she saw the trailer, which can be viewed at getonupmovie.com.
“Oh my gosh, it’s just so exciting,” she said. “I recognized so many different places, and it really brought to reality that we were in a big show. It was not a small, independent film; it was the big show.”
The trailer for the film, directed by Mississippian and “The Help” director Tate Taylor, featured several Natchezians cast as extras in concert and other scenes filmed at Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center, Stanton Hall, Dunleith, International Paper Company property, Adams County Jail, Holy Family Catholic Church, the Natchez City Auditorium and other locations.
The trailer opens with scenes from Brown’s childhood filmed in Rodney, featuring local twins Jordan and Jamarion Scott, who portrayed a young Brown in the film.
The boys’ parents, Sharonica Myles and Cortrel Scott, said a movie representative reached out to them Thursday night to let them know the trailer had been released.
The 8-year-old twins watched it with their parents on an iPad as soon as they heard.
“We watched it three times in a row,” Myles said, laughing. “The boys kept wanting to watch it. They would say, ‘Momma, that’s me; that’s me.’”
Jamarion is shown in a scene walking toward a church and standing on a porch yelling for his mother, played by actress Viola Davis, as she walks away from the house carrying a suitcase.
“I was surprised to see myself,” he said.
Jordan is featured in a scene during which actress Octavia Spencer as Aunt Honey talks to young Brown as he is lying in bed.
Jordan and Jamarion said they felt like big stars when they saw themselves in the trailer.
“It was fun,” Jordan said.
Scott said he is still in disbelief his sons had the opportunity to be in “Get On Up.” He said seeing the trailer made the whole experience more real for him.
“I still can’t believe, but they did such a good job,” he said. “I really can’t wait to see it.”
Myles and Scott spent some time on set during filming and say they never imagined what they saw behind the camera would turn into such a spectacular preview of the film.
“From being on set, I could never imagine what it would look like,” Myles said. “It was perfect. I still can’t believe it. I loved it. I am so excited to see the movie.”
Author and retired Natchez journalist Mark LaFrancis is seen in the trailer playing a reporter when James Brown meets President Lyndon B. Johnson. The scene was shot in historic Auburn.
LaFrancis joked that he was preparing for all the autographs he might get asked for since the trailer is out.
“I was in there for what they call a nanosecond,” he said.
LaFrancis took notes as a reporter during the scene.
“I took accurate notes of what was going on in front of me,” LaFrancis said. “James Brown walked into the room, he was wearing this and this. The president was standing here and so on.
“When they were gathering up the pads and pens … I kept my notes, and I have them from that scene.”
Adams County Supervisor Mike Lazarus is seen toward the end of the trailer sitting with a group of people in the office of Brown’s Man’s World Enterprises. Brown fires a shotgun into the ceiling, and the people jump from their seats to the floor.
“I was thrilled to see it,” Lazarus said. “To see it on the TV, it was like, there it is. That’s what it’s going to look like.
“I wish we could make a movie here once a month. It’s just so exciting.”
The film, which will chronicle the life of Brown from when he was 5 years old in 1938 until he was about 60 in 1993, is set for release Aug. 1.
Brown is portrayed by “42” star Chadwick Boseman.
“Get On Up” also stars Dan Aykroyd, who is renowned for his roles in “The Blues Brothers” and “Ghostbusters,” as Ben Bart, the president of the agency that represented Brown for decades.
Jill Scott, a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, will play the part of Brown’s second wife, Deidre “Deedee” Jenkins.
Craig Robinson, best known for his role as Darryl Philbin on the NBC sitcom “The Office,” stars as Maceo Parker, a funk and soul saxophonist who played with Brown in the 1960s.