Actor Ryan Phillipe, most recently making headlines due to the split with his wife, actress Reese Witherspoon, is the latest in a long line of stars to have filmed movies in the small Texas town of Lockhart, located about 30 miles southeast of Austin.
“Stop-Loss,” the working title of the Ryan Phillipe movie directed by Kimberly Peirce (“Boys Don’t Cry”), is expected to hit theaters in 2007. But it was during the summer of 2006 that Ryan Phillipe and the many trucks and trailers of the “Stop-Loss” cast and crew made life just a little more exciting for the 11,000 people of Lockhart, which is most famous for being the “Barbecue Capital of Texas.”
Filming of portions of “Stop-Loss” took place in Lockhart’s historic downtown district during a couple of sweltering hot weeks in August 2006. During that time Lockhart was turned into “Brazos, Texas,” the hometown of “Brandon,” the character played by Ryan Phillipe. (“Brandon” is a U.S. soldier on leave from fighting in Iraq who refuses to return to the war.)
The sign at “The Jewel of Lockhart,” a downtown jewelry store, was replaced with an artificially weathered one that temporarily renamed the store, “The Jewel of Brazos.” A huge “Welcome home, soldiers” banner hung from the side of the Jewel’s building on Main Street, and small flags adorned with stars and stripes hung from lampposts that normally feature banners welcoming visitors to historic Lockhart.
On Aug. 21, 2006, downtown Lockhart was closed off to through-traffic so that Ryan Phillipe’s character and his fellow soldiers, co-stars and extras dressed in army fatigues, could film a parade scene from Blacks’s BBQ, at the northern end of Lockhart’s Main Street, to the Caldwell County Courthouse, at the center of Lockhart’s town square. Many Lockhart residents joined Ryan Phillipe as part of the “Stop-Loss” cast of extras that day as patriotic parade-goers.
But Ryan Phillipe isn’t the first well-known actor to film a movie in Lockhart. The town’s historic buildings are popular among directors seeking small-town charm and historic ambience for their films.
Other notable films made at least partially in Lockhart include “Where the Heart Is” (2000), which starred Ashley Judd and Natalie Portman, whose desperate character moves into a Wal-Mart store; “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” (1993), starring Johnny Depp, Juliette Lewis and a young Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays Depp’s character’s mentally handicapped younger brother; “Waiting for Guffman” (1997), a mockumentary written and directed by Christopher Guest; and “Secondhand Lions” (2003), the story of two old geezers played by Robert Duvall and Michael Caine who take in their young nephew, played by Haley Joel Osment. And the list of great films goes on and on.
So the next time you’re in Central Texas, be sure to take a drive on Highway 183 into Lockhart, Texas. You’ll find some world-famous barbecue, and if you’re a movie buff, you might even experience a little déjà vu as you take a stroll around the town’s historic town square or you can enjoy movie in your home on tubidy, which helps us to surf movies online .