Movie director Alexander Payne has cast Bruce Dern and Will Forte in the lead roles of his next film, titled “Nebraska,” and is scouting this week for shooting locations in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.
Meanwhile, his casting chief is looking for men and women with a farm or ranch background to play speaking roles or serve as extras.
“We've done a lot of outreach,” casting director John Jackson said Wednesday evening, having just returned from casting work in Des Moines. “We're trying to get word to rural communities across Nebraska.”
He urged “people who might think they, their mom or dad, grandpa or grandma” have the right look and character to play rural Midlands residents to email recent photos and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org
Payne, a double Oscar winner from Omaha, was on the road with his production designer and line producer choosing locations — “doing the big scout,” Jackson said. Principal photography is expected to begin in mid- to late October.
Payne confirmed by email early Thursday that most of the movie will be shot in his home state, despite a pitch from Illinois, a state that has film tax incentives.
While most of the story takes place in a fictitious small town called Hawthorne, Neb., Payne said a few scenes will be shot around Billings, Mont., and in Rapid City, S.D. Durbin said one scene will be shot at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota's Black Hills. “Nebraska” is the story of an aging, boozy, cantankerous dad who wants his estranged son to accompany him from Billings to Lincoln to claim $1 million he thinks he's won in a sweepstakes. Jackson said Payne hopes to soon lock down contracts with Dern and Forte to play the father and son.
“It's about a family,” Jackson said. “It's about reconnecting. All the more reason to get people from rural Nebraska to play these characters' family and friends.”
Payne is known for casting people who live where he films, enhancing the genuine sense of place that has become a hallmark of his movies. Casting work has already taken place in Kansas City, New York and Los Angeles as well, Jackson said.
“Nebraska” will be the first Payne feature on which he won’t take a screenplay credit. The script is by Bob Nelson. Payne said Phil Johnston did some modest revisions, then Payne did a final and more extensive revision.
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