Local thespian starring on silver screen
You hear a lot about the Hollywood actors who deftly land the lead and supporting actor roles, but you rarely hear much about the bit players who fill out the story, script and plot.
Lockhart thespian Terri Bennett is one of those bit players. Bennett works by day as local accountant Steve Lawson’s office manager, but during the past two decades has carved out a secondary resume as an actress whose time in a film is measured by both scenes and minutes.
It’s no walk in the park becoming such an actress, says Bennett, who most recently stars as Maybelleen, the wife of a rural sheriff, in the independent film “Texas Cotton,” which made its debut at the Austin Film Festival in late October. Some of the stories from her early days in cinema sound like they’re setting the scene for an episode of 48 Hours.
Picture this: You’re relatively new to casting calls and auditions, and you’re summoned to an apartment in Austin. You arrive, and a crew of young men tells you to put on a nightgown and get into bed.
What happened next was anticlimactic, but the good-natured Bennett recalled it with a chuckle.
“It turns out I was a cancer patient and I was dying,” Bennett said. “They were making the trailer that you make before you actually make the film. I got the part and I was called back to reprise my role.”
Bennett starred in a number of unpaid roles for student films before landing small paying roles in independent movies. Over the years, she’s also starred in some live-action theatrical productions at the Gaslight-Baker Theatre and other local playhouses.
Bennett said performing on stage and acting in front of a camera were two different animals.
“With live theater, you’re interacting with the audience,” Bennett said. “You can feel whether they like you, whether you’re doing a good job.
“I remember the first time I was in a play and the audience just did not like my character. I almost forgot my lines.
“On film, it can be a much more inward process. You sometimes don’t have anyone to play off. You’re talking to the camera and pretending you’re talking to a person.”
Her most recent endeavor, “Texas Cotton,” is about an aging lawman who is convinced a stranger arrested in his hometown is innocent and conducts an investigation to prove his hypothesis. Bennett said she stars in four scenes and delivers some noteworthy lines.
Director Tyler Russell said he knew she was perfect for the role when she sent in her audition tape.
“We just stumbled upon her,” he said. “Her voice, look and smile were just authentic.
“We had a lot of Texas actors in the film, but she was one of the only Texas leads and that’s a big deal. Being Texan had nothing to with her getting the role – she got it purely because of her talent. She is that good.
“I hope to see her grabbing more roles because she can definitely do it.”
For Caldwell County residents, their best chance to see the film is at the Evo Spot in San Marcos from Nov. 16-23. Check the website for screen times.