Black, Maclaine make Lockhart ‘home’… for a few days
By LPR Staff
Hollywood dug its bejeweled heels into Lockhart last week as big-name silver screen talent and a slew of production staff and crew turned Lockhart, Texas, into Carthage, Texas, for the filming of a new dark comedy, “Bernie.”
The film stars Jack Black (Kung Fu Panda, School of Rock) in the title role as Bernie Teide, a kindly, gener
ous assistant funeral director with a knack for helping others, particularly the elderly widows whose husbands he prepares for burial.
Opposite Black as Marjorie Nugent stars Shirley Maclaine (Terms of Endearment, Steel Magnolias) an 81-year-old banker’s wife, recently widowed, who takes Teide on as a traveling companion, confidante and friend.
The story of the pair’s “courtship,” which ultimately ended in murder, is based on a true story that rocked Carthage, Texas, in the mid-1990s. Teide, it seems, reached a breaking point with his cantankerous benefactor, shooting her four times in the back and hiding her body in a deep freezer in her home for more than nine months, while he spent her fortune and took great pains to hide her death.
Austin-based writer and director Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, The Newton Boys) found the story by way of a Texas Monthly article penned by Skip Hollandsworth, and commissioned the story for the film, which is being billed by the production company as a “dark comedy.”
On Friday and Monday, crews worked on the project all over Lockhart, including filming scenes at the historic Baker Theater and at Mr. Taco. Those scenes, according to those close to the film, are pivotal in the storyline of the movie, as both involve Teide’s ruse to cover Nugent’s death, while spending her money – often using her fortune to make generous donations to theater programs, needy students and neighbors who had fallen on tough times.
The twist in the story comes after Nugent’s death was discovered, when a small town charmed by Teide’s kindness and generosity, but less than enamored of the surly Nugent, refuses almost wholesale to believe he was responsible for her murder. According to Hollingsworth’s Texas Monthly story, and confirmed by Nugent relatives on location for the filming, the townspeople of Carthage almost refused outright to convict Teide of the crime, forcing prosecutors to seek a change of venue in order to achieve justice for the victim.
Hollywood heavy hitter Matthew McConaughey is cast as District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson, and Rip Torn is on deck to play Teide’s defense attorney. Neither was present for the scenes shot in Lockhart.
Several local actors, including board members of the Gaslight-Baker Theatre company, were tapped as extras for the film, which is due out in theaters next year.