By July 31, 2017 Read More →

‘The Glass Castle’: Movie based on former Welch resident’s memoir set for release Aug. 11

By SAMANTHA PERRY

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

WELCH, W.Va.  — A movie based on a critically acclaimed memoir whose author spent formative years growing up in McDowell County is slated for release on Aug. 11.

Several scenes for “The Glass Castle” were filmed in and around Welch, although no one knows yet if they made the final cut of the film. The movie is based on the best-selling novel by Jeannette Walls, whose book details her life growing up in poverty in a dysfunctional family. Many of the years were spent in Welch, her father’s hometown.

Scores of area residents braved the rain and portrayed fans at football game when shooting for the movie “Glass Castles” took place at Vic Nystrom Stadium in May.
(Jon Bolt file photo)

McDowell County Commission President Gordon Lambert is optimistic about the reflection the movie will have on the region, saying it will be “good for the county.”

“Any coverage that gets out there, the better for us,” Lambert said. “Especially positive coverage like this.”

McDowell County’s House of Delegate’s representative Ed Evans is also speaking positively about the movie’s release. “It’s going to be awesome for the county … everything will be done first class,” he said. “I think it’s going to put us in a good light — a shining light.”

Evans was instrumental during filming of the shoot, helping to coordinate a scene in McDowell County that depicted a Welch High School football game.

Filming for the scene took place May 20, 2016, when the gold and brown normally associated with Vic Nystrom Stadium was transformed into a sea of maroon and white — Welch High School colors. Academy Award winning actress Brie Larson, who portrays Walls in the movie, traveled to McDowell County for the shoot.

Residents from across the county were on hand for the filming, portraying historic roles of their current positions as football players, cheerleaders and fans.

“We’re all excited,” said Mount View cheerleading coach Cathy Jack prior to the May filming. “Our cheerleaders are going to be in the scene.”

Jack attended Welch High with Walls and remembered her fondly. “I hope we have a good reflection in the movie.”

“I think it (the movie) is going to be a lot of positive publicity for our county, instead of the negative,” 11th grade cheerleader Kelsie Potter said during last year’s shoot. “It’s a good experience for us being young adults to see what it was like when she (Walls) was young.”

Jerry Lambert, of Bluefield, Va., played for Welch High in 1968, ‘69 and ‘70, but portrayed a referee during the film shoot.

“I remember Jeannette,” he said, during an interview prior to the football game filming. “She was a wonderful painter — her mother was a really good chalk painter.”

But, he noted, “They were as poor as the book said.”

Last week, Delegate Evans recalled the film shoot, describing it as “magical.” He said the producer had high hopes the movie would be in the running for Academy Awards.

However, Evans said, “I don’t know how it will go until we actually see what’s on the cutting room floor and what’s on the big screen.”

“The Glass Castle” novel received critical acclaim, spending 261 weeks on The New York Times best seller list. During a visit to Bluefield in 2007, Walls told Prerogative magazine that she believed the book appealed to a lot of people “because it’s a realization that parents aren’t perfect — something a lot of people have to come to terms with in their lifetimes.”

Walls stayed in McDowell County through her junior year at Welch High School, then left to join her older sister in New York. She continued her education and became a journalist, and at one time was a celebrity columnist for MSNBC.com.

In addition to Larson, the film also includes Woody Harrelson who plays Walls’ father, Rex Walls, and Naomi Watts who plays her mother, Rose Mary Walls.

Both Evans and Lambert plan to be at the theater when the movie debuts in August.

“I can not wait,” Evans said. “This is very exciting. I just hope it’s as nice as the producer told me it was going to me. I’ve got my fingers crossed.”

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