published Saturday, July 24th, 2010

‘The Help’ is coming

Leslie Jordan adds to big-screen credits

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Leslie Jordan

Former Chattanoogan Leslie Jordan has been cast in the big-screen version of Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling book, “The Help.”

“I play the local newspaper editor that Skeeter comes to when she tries to get a job, and I give her the cleaning column,” Mr. Jordan said in a telephone interview.

“It makes her so mad! I’m real mean to her,” he added, obviously relishing the scene.

Mr. Jordan is an alumnus of Brainerd High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He won an Emmy Award in 2006 for his recurring role as Beverley Leslie on “Will & Grace.”

“The Help” began shooting this month in Greenwood, Miss., even though most of the story is set in Jackson, Miss. Mr. Jordan said his two scenes will be shot on location in the town’s newspaper office.

The book, which spent 50 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List, is the story of three women living in Jackson and the changes they experience during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

“It’s being directed by a friend of mine, Tate Taylor, who knew Kathryn Stockett,” said Mr. Jordan.

Mr. Taylor and Ms. Stockett grew up within a mile of each other’s homes in Jackson, according to Playbill.com.

“Tate went to her early on, before the book was a big hit, and asked to make the movie. When it was such a literary sensation, Dreamworks approached them, so Steven Spielberg is producing the movie,” the actor explained.

Mr. Jordan co-starred with Mr. Taylor when the two of them were cast in the stage production, “Southern Baptist Sissies.”

Mr. Jordan said he was sought out for this role. The actor’s well-known drawl and 4-foot,11-inch stature made him a perfect match for Mister Golden, who is described by Stockett in her book as a “good 6 inches shorter than Skeeter.”

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been offered a film — I’ve always auditioned in the past,” he said. Mr. Jordan’s movie credits include “Ski Patrol” and “Sordid Lives.”

According to Playbill.com, the cast also includes director Ron Howard’s daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard, most recently seen in “Twilight: Eclipse.” Emma Stone (“Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”) plays the lead, Skeeter Phelan.

“Octavia Spencer is in it; she’s wonderful,” said Mr. Jordan, “and so is Viola Davis, who’s won a Tony and was nominated for an Academy Award for ‘Doubt.’ ”

Ms. Spencer is best-known for her role as Constance Grady on “Ugly Betty.”

Earlier this month, Mr. Jordan wrapped a 12-week run off-Broadway in the one-man show based on his autobiography, “My Trip Down the Pink Carpet.” The actor said he believes that experience can be credited, in part, for this new role.

“That’s what New York gets you. I think they take you a little more seriously as an actor when you’ve done New York theater. I can’t figure out why ... it wore me out and I didn’t make much money,” he quipped.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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