He played in Thad Lee’s All That You Love Will be Carried Away Dollar Baby film as The Traveler.
SKSM: Could you start by telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Johnny MacPhail: This is one of the best articles written about me: https://www.hottytoddy.com/2017/12/25/actor-johnny-mcphail-cotton-patch-true-detective/
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become an actor?
Johnny MacPhail: I always wanted to be an actor. But it was beyond my wildest dream. I turned 50 and some movies started filming in the South. I decided to reinvent myself and find out what acting was all about. I believe everyone arrives on a different path.
SKSM: How did you become involved in All That You Love Will Be Carried Away Dollar Baby film?
Johnny MacPhail: I had been best friends with Thad Lee for many years and worked on a lot of projects with him. We were always planning to do something. He has thousands of hours of me on video. I don’t know if he Will ever uses any of it or not. He moved back to Oxford and asked me if I would play the carácter opposite Rhes Low. I had played opposite Rhes in an award-winning short film “The Embalming” I think he is one of the best actors of all times of course, I said yes.
SKSM: What do you think it is about the story that attracts people so much?
Johnny MacPhail: The personification of The Note Book. My character was the notebook. I kept people guessing.
SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?
Johnny MacPhail: I feel sure he had Rhes and me in mind when writing it. Not sure when my wife cameo. He said, in the beginning, he was going to try and put her in. We worked hundreds and hundreds of hours reading lines sitting on my patio. Rhes wasn’t there. I don’t know when he worked with Rhes or if he did. Thad had a specific way he wants every line and every word to sound. She would read a line and have me repeat it after him. I used to do improv some for the film. But this time every word is exactly how it was written and exactly how he wanted it to sound.
SKSM: You worked with Thad Lee on this film, how was that?
Johnny MacPhail: He was different from any other director I’ve ever worked with. One of the best, If not the best. He worked on it for about a year conferring with me looking for locations and props. He had everything planned to the smallest detail. We rehearsed a lot. He would rent a motel room in Oxford and we would go through scenes. He would even have the Cinematographer and sound man there. He must have put thousands of hours into it before we started filming. We filmed in the Mississippi Delta the hottest part of 2018 and the coldest part of 2019. And you have never seen hot and cold weather unless you have spent time in the delta. Humidity and no trees to break the wind. Thad would stick with it when the rest of us would have to take a break to get out of the weather. Thad was totally into it every second. When shooting a scene, he was like a cheerleader. Standing off or behind the camera. He would wave, make facial expressions, directing and cheering you on. When you got it as he wanted, he had this little dance he would do spinning around.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Johnny MacPhail: When we were filming in Gator, Mississippi, we had to stop filming so that my wife, Susan could take the owner of the pickup truck to Walmart to get new tires. We all pitched in like one big happy family. The truck was shot we never knew if it was going to make it.
SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?
Johnny MacPhail: Yes all of them. Most of them live here in Oxford, the Delta, or close by. We are all very close friends.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Johnny MacPhail: Because of the pandemic I working a lot from home. Helped teach an acting class at the University of Houston Texas using zoom. In fact, I’ve been doing a lot of stuff using zoom, interviews after and before the screening of some of the film I’m in that’s in the festival circuit. Meeting with other actors and people in the film industry. The 28th Delta Tennessee Williams Festival in Clarksdale Mississippi is coming up in October. I always participate in that. The only stage I do nowadays because the movie industry is so spontaneous I can’t commit to a play. I might have to turn a movie down. Of course, I always have a few auditions out there a very few with the pandemic. But lately, it seems to be picking up a bit. We video most of our auditions from home. We very seldom do we go on location for as audition or a call-back. I have a Facebook page concerning the film industry. Do a lot of promoting and sharing information there. I work on it every day. Facebook Groups https://www.facebook.com/groups/johnnymcphail/
SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?
Johnny MacPhail: Of course I love the movies that are based on his work and am honored to have my name mentioned on the same screen and page with his unbelievable.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Johnny MacPhail: I grew up on a farm, didn’t have much contact with people in social settings so I was extremely shy. I didn’t have a date until my early twenties. Then I went wild and crazy. Of course, they know the wild and crazy part is true.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Johnny MacPhail: Please join me on Facebook. I love to chat and share with people some of my best friends I met on the internet and have never met in person. Everything I have ever gotten is because I was trying to help someone else maybe I can help you that what I live for and trying to make the world a better place.
SKSM: Do you like to add anything else?
Johnny MacPhail: I love doing this please let me know if you need anything else I just didn’t understand in the beginning what you wanted. Most people just want a couple of paragraphs. If you need to know something just shoot a question to me and I will get right back to you thanks for everything. Someone said: “When two people meet no matter how brief both lives will be changed forever.” I think I’m the one who said it.