INTERVIEW — “Big Stone Gap” Writer/Director & Cast
“Big Stone Gap” follows the simple life of Ave Maria Mulligan (Ashley Judd) “self-proclaimed spinster” thru the town of Big Stone Gap, located in southwest Virginia. Based on the best selling novel of the same name, writer/director Adriana Trigiani assembles an all star cast to tell the story of the small coal mining town in 1978, that’s filled with love, laughs and struggle.
Adriana Trigiani is known for her best-selling novels, “The Shoemaker’s Wife”, “Valentine”, the “Big Stone Gap” series and is a former writer/producer for “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World”. “Big Stone Gap” is the first time Trigiani has directed a feature film, and it was shot entirely on location in her hometown.
We were able to catch up with Trigiani, along with Jenna Elfman, who plays Iva Lou Wade, and Paul Wilson (older brother of Patrick Wilson; Ave Maria’s love interest), who plays Lyle Makin; to discuss the film.
Trigiani is very passionate about the film, it did; after all, take 15 years to get approval to film on location. The original “Big Stone Gap” series was written 15 years ago, and many locals participated as extras in the film. Trigiani stated that just about everyone identified with the fictional characters and claimed that the roles reflected their real lives, despite her protests.
When asked if there are any characters that Trigiani personally identifies with, she says “all of them”, because the story is about longing for something more, the struggles and feelings of dealing with loss of friends, family, lovers and not being able to move forward with life, in spite of loving the town you live in and the people around you.
Being set in the late 70’s, the film had an amazingly retro wardrobe and of course, Jenna Elfman’s character, Iva Lou Wade, had the most impressive outfits out of the entire cast. While she wasn’t able to take anything of the bell bottomed, pant suits home with her, she did say that her favorite outfit was an off the shoulder dress, with a necktie, she wore during the “chinese face reading” speech in Ave’s (Ashley Judd) kitchen. Jenna, like all the other actors, embodied their roles with heavy southern accents. While Jenna is a native Californian, she did have the assistance of a dialect coach from Virginia to teach her and the benefit of her mother being from North Carolina.
Paul Wilson (Lyle Makin); a native Virginian and true Southern Gentleman, spoke with me about promotional concert, that he and his brother, Patrick Wilson (Jack MacChesney), did with their band “The Wilson Van”. It was a charity event, where they announced the movie was complete and its release date. Erica Cole (Pearl Grimes), as well as writer/director Adriana Trigiani were also in attendance to show support. Paul and Patrick’s father was actually born and raised in Big Stone Gap. Paul said they would often take summer vacations to the town, as children and visit Grandparents and that “whenever we go back to Big Stone Gap, it feels like we are going home”
“Big Stone Gap” stars Ashley Judd, Patrick Wilson, Whoopi Goldberg, Jenna Elfman, Paul Wilson, John Benjamin Hickey, Judith Ivey, Anthony LaPaglia, Chris Sarandon, Jasmine Guy, Jane Krakowski.
“Big Stone Gap” in theaters October 9th