Breann Johnson – A Name to Remember
By: Dwayne Wilder, 08/29/2012 1:06 PM
NOTE: This is another in a series of articles about the feature length motion picture, “Red Wing,” which was filmed on location in Whitewright in July and August. This article features lead actress Breann Johnson.
In the process of casting the female lead of “Red Wing,” producer Patti Carpenter and director Will Wallace didn’t have to go far. In one of Wallace’s acting classes, an unassuming young woman worked to hone her new-found love. Wallace instantly saw something in Breann Johnson; a ‘motherliness’ if you will.
“We saw ‘Maddie’ in this actress,” explained Carpenter after meeting Johnson. “Her personality felt right and she just had this ability to ‘gather’ everyone around her like our mother figure ‘Maddie.’ We ended up casting everyone around Breann.”
Johnson, from California, was born in Spokane, but moved around a lot growing up with her surgeon father and seamstress mother. During a break in filming on a hot Saturday afternoon in Whitewright, Johnson discussed her new career and her first lead role.
“I’ve loved acting on and off my entire life,” said Johnson. “I’ve done mostly theater, but not full-time. It dawned on me that I loved acting! I asked my husband (Michael) if he would get a job in LA, so I could pursue that dream. He is absolutely wonderful; so supportive; and here we are.”
How did you feel when first approached about the character of Maddie Blanton?
“I remember being in Will’s class and him saying, ‘You could play Maddie’ and I said, ‘Yes, this is something we should talk about’,” recalled Johnson. “Maybe, we should do this. I’m ready!”
“It feels great to be here (On the set in Whitewright),” added Johnson.
During the four week shoot, Johnson is always eager to discuss ‘Maddie,’ the character she is charged to portray. Per producer Carpenter’s instructions, the movie’s plot is off limits – part of the plan to keep the mystery of “Red Wing” intact until it is in theaters next year. But even with that mandate, Johnson is happy to talk about this break out role.
“She (Maddie) is a mother first! She would do anything for her son (Johnny in the story),” explained Johnson. “She has the highest capacity to love; above all else.”
To prepare for this role, Johnson took to being a ‘full-time mother’ to director Wallace’s three children – all under four years of age – since she doesn’t have any children of her own. After the long days and nights with the children, even they were calling her ‘Maddie.’
Johnson did divulge some of the plot as it pertains to Maddie’s husband, Carl, played by Luke Perry (of “Beverly Hills 90210″ fame).
“He (Carl) is a protagonist in many ways,” explained Johnson. “He challenges Maddie; puts her to the test, but it doesn’t matter, she will always choose her son. (Johnny)”
“Maddie is a powerful, inspiring character,” continued Johnson. “She has the highest moral standards; it goes above the Ten Commandments. She is loving and kind to everyone. She just jumps off the screen.”
According to Johnson, she couldn’t ‘ask for more’ in a character to play in such a great story. Maddie ‘goes through the worst and the best a human being can endure,’ she said.
Johnson has fun discussing her character and the interactions with other story participants. Longtime actress Francis Fisher portrays, “Mama B,” Carl’s mother. Johnson sees her as ‘the fuel to Carl’s fire.’
“She really eggs him on in the story,” smiled Johnson. “It is really amazing to work with Francis!”
Another character, Vera, the town flirt, is portrayed by Joelle Carter (Justified). Johnson calls her the town’s ‘attitude’ and ‘a tease.’
“She is definitely a pot stirrer,” said Johnson.
Maddie does have a ‘Best Friend Forever’ in “Kathy,” played by Jaime Gallagher. She is Maddie’s ‘go-to confidante’ in the story, according to Johnson.
The one overwhelming concept of “Red Wing” that inspires and drives Johnson is the story’s theme of dealing with the different aspects of love: parental, romantic, sibling; and friendship.
Johnson will also be in the upcoming horror/thriller “The Appearing.” She plays a news reporter investigating the circumstances surrounding the main plot. Director Wallace is putting on his actor’s cap as he plays the lead role in this film.