Get ready to see a few familiar faces in theaters
Pastor Bryant Herbert thinks he still has about 14 minutes left of his 15 minutes of fame.
Still, he was “more than excited” to see himself in the trailer for the upcoming film “Get On Up,” about the life of musician James Brown, filmed in Natchez.
The movie premieres in Natchez on Saturday and opens nationwide Aug. 1.
Herbert, pastor of Natchez Triumphant Seventh-day Adventist Church, is one of many Natchez residents who were part of the film.
“It was a lot of fun, was a great experience, doing something different. It is fun to say, ‘I was in a movie,’ even if it’s for a split second,” he said. “I didn’t think I would make the trailer, but I did.”
Herbert’s part in the movie included driving a car and getting out of that car and carrying a suitcase presumably filled with money into a bank.
“It took about seven shots and we were done,” Herbert said. “The scene took about an hour to film. They had to make sure we came in right and got out of the car correctly.”
Herbert won’t attend the Natchez preview on July 26. In fact, he’s not even going to go when the movie opens to the public on Aug. 1.
“I’m going to wait for the hype to die down so I can go in and really watch the movie, really enjoy it,” he said.
Herbert said he read about a need for extras in the movie in The Natchez Democrat.
“My wife asked me if I wanted to go and I told her sure, I didn’t have anything else to do. I really didn’t expect them to pick me,” he said. “Originally, they told me I was going to be in a scene with Dan Aykroyd, but that didn’t materialize.”
Herbert said he didn’t meet any of the Hollywood actors in the film but did meet and talk with director Tate Taylor.
“I thanked him for the experience,” he said. “The people with the movie were more than nice, more than helpful.”
Herbert said he thinks the movie is good for Natchez.
“It’s something for us to look forward to, something for us to brag about,” he said.
Herbert said the thing that surprised him the most was how cold it was on the movie set.
“They said they had to keep the set cold because otherwise it would mess with the sound.”
Herbert and his wife, Charla, are the parents of one child, a daughter, Bryn, 2, and are expecting their second child. He was raised in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
“It’s funny. I’m anxious to see how they put it all together. I don’t know how they are going to take all these individual scenes and put them all together into a movie. That’s going to be fun to see,” Herbert said. “I hope everybody enjoys it.”
Natchez native Kim Lazarus is only in the “Get On Up” trailer for a second, but that was enough time for the local to get energized for the upcoming movie premiere.
“If you blink, you would have missed me,” Lazarus said, laughing. “But we paused it and made it go real slow, so we could see me.”
Filming for the movie took place in various locations throughout Natchez and the surrounding areas from November through January, including the scene Lazarus was in that was filmed at Stanton Hall inside the Carriage House restaurant.
The location is one Lazarus knows well, but it was the people around her at the time that made it unlike any other day.
“Allison Janney was right there next to me the whole time just talking and cracking jokes,” Lazarus said, speaking of the actress known for her roles in the television series “The West Wing” and movies such as “Juno” and “The Help.”
“It was a long day of sitting around and waiting, but I loved it.”
In the scene, Lazarus said she was directed to sit at the Carriage House bar and maintain a conversation with another extra.
As Janney and another actor begin dancing, Lazarus was asked to turn and look at the couple with a shocked expression.
The first three takes of the scene, Lazarus said, went according to plan and were over in nearly 30 seconds.
The fourth scene went a bit differently.
“It seemed to go on and on and when I finally looked back, they really caught me off guard,” Lazarus said. “The one guy was jumping on tables and they came and grabbed me off the bar stool and started dancing with me, but I don’t know if that’s going to make it in there.
“The whole crew was laughing so hard, and they just really caught me off guard with all of that.”
Lazarus got another insight into Hollywood life when she accompanied her husband, Mike, to film a scene in a building at Magnolia Mall that will be in the opening of the film.
The actors filmed the scene the first day, but asked everyone involved to come back a second day to reshoot certain takes.
“I told them I didn’t think I could come back because it was my anniversary, and we had plans to go to New Orleans,” Mike said. “They told me it wouldn’t work without me, so they asked if I would come back they would get a limo to drive us to New Orleans.”
Mike eventually declined the limousine offer, but did bring Kim along to the filming on the second day.
“They let me come back behind the scenes of the filming and sit in the director’s chair and just treated me like I was really something special,” Kim said. “Tate Taylor even shook my hand, but I didn’t know who he was at the time.
“They even got us flowers for our anniversary.”
Natchez resident Jim Anderson was in the same scene with Mike, and enjoyed getting to be a part of Natchez’s moment in the starlight.
“It was such a great thing for Natchez for them to be here,” Anderson said. “It was good to see stuff happening right here in our town.”
In the scene, Chadwick Boseman, who plays James Brown, confronts the extras in the scene with a shotgun after finding a surprise in his bathroom.
“He comes around to me and other people to ask if we went to the bathroom in his toilet,” Anderson said. “He shoots up in the air, and we all dive down on the ground.”
The moment Anderson hit the floor was one he’ll always remember.
“I had my phone on silent when we got on set, but when I dove out of the chair I had a peppermint in my pocket and it hit the Siri button on my iPhone,” Anderson said. “So everything is all quiet and then you just hear my phone go off and then all the directors yell, ‘cut, cut, cut.’
“I felt kind of embarrassed on that one.”
Other than the phone mishap, Anderson said he enjoyed being a part of the movie and was excited to see the various trailers released.
“That was cool to see myself in there,” Anderson said. “I have it saved on my phone.”
Since the release of the trailer, 19-year-old Amelia Conn’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing.
Conn is front and center during one of the concert scenes that was filmed at Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center, which was made to appear as the Apollo Theater.
“It kind of blew me away, because I didn’t expect to be seen at all and then everybody is calling me telling me I’m right there,” Conn said. “My aunt, who lives in Jackson, still calls me every time one of her friends sees me on there.”
Conn, who is a recent Trinity Episcopal Day School graduate, signed up to be an extra in the movie and was selected to a part of the “mashed potatoes” group.
“That was the group that had to go through an application process and get selected to be up front,” Conn said. “We were in the ones who had to get there first the day we filmed to do hair and make up.”
Conn was on set from 6:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. the day of the filming, but said it was a small price to pay.
“It was a phenomenal experience, and I loved every minute of it,” Conn said. “It was such a great experience, and I can’t wait to see it.”