When the political drama The Runner, which revolves around the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf, opens in theaters this weekend, you might notice several things. First, it’s Nicolas Cage in what might be a pretty decent performance. Second, you may recognize many of the settings, as it was filmed in south Louisiana. And you’ll notice Brooke Hoover, a Baton Rouge native playing a journalist with a hell of a scoop.
I was fortunate enough to talk to Hoover, who plays newswoman Maryellen Briggs in this cinematic love letter to our state. Maryellen gets ahold of a story that will have repercussions for Cage’s character, Colin Price. The oil spill is the greater story playing out, but Price uses the tragedy to propel himself onto the national stage. His position becomes precarious with what Maryellen could be bringing to the party.
You’ll also see Connie Nielsen, favored New Orleanians Wendell Pierce and Bryan Batt, and Cage’s old Ghost Rider costar, Peter Fonda.
But let’s get back to Hoover. We talked about her experience filming The Runner and her creative pursuits — past, present, and future. We also talked about some of her favorite joints around the Red Stick. She really likes Sammy’s and George’s, in case you’re interested.
She performed at the Kennedy Center (you know, that place where Meryl Streep got an award from the president?), sitting onstage and shoving lettuce up her skirt.
Hoover got involved in The Runner after being cast in a number of roles that didn’t necessarily play to her thespian strengths. You may have seen her as “the plus-size girl that needs rescuing” or “the mean sales girl at a boutique.” She was glad to get a role that not only had a little more depth but also gave her an opportunity to film in Louisiana.
“Louisiana is now being called ‘Hollywood South,’” Hoover said. “People said to me, ‘You have to get on that.’” She wound up getting in contact with Austin Stark, “this nice director that decided to write about the BP oil spill.” The film turns out to be about Louisiana politics, environmental disaster, betrayal, redemption, trust — all that good stuff.
“There hasn’t been anything like this in a while” Hoover continued. “It really shows the awesomeness and uniqueness (of the state).”
Hoover has had an interesting time in the realm of entertainment. As mentioned above, she’s had some roles that were less glamorous than what one dreams of when starting on the path to stardom and international notoriety. She had a couple of appearances on Law & Order: SVU, and she’s been on that What Would You Do? show, giving innocent folks an opportunity to stand up on her behalf. But she’s done some very intriguing work that she’s proud of.
She performed at the Kennedy Center (you know, that place where Meryl Streep got an award from the president?), sitting onstage and shoving lettuce up her skirt. I really want to leave that one out of context and have you picture her doing that in front of President Barack Obama and Meryl Streep. Alas, they weren’t there that night, as she was there for the American College Theater Festival, doing a scene from Chris Durang’s Titanic. The scene called for her to say “I have a hedgehog inside my lady parts” and to feed it lettuce. She worked on that scene with an acting coach for a month.
Hoover has been busy since then with many a film, show, and project. You can check out her IMDb page, but that doesn’t mention much about her one-woman show Phat Girl Costumes, which tells a personal story about her journey to body acceptance through the Halloween costumes she wore growing up. If you’re fortunate enough to catch her in New York, her show Wayward Souls is even more autobiographical and is about the crazy characters her family has adopted. She says it’s very indicative of our particular culture. “It’s a Louisiana thing to welcome people like that. That’s how we roll.”
The scene called for her to say “I have a hedgehog inside my lady parts” and to feed it lettuce. She worked on that scene with an acting coach for a month.
You can see Hoover in the upcoming mockumentary web series Pageant Pom Mom, which takes on the world of domineering, overly competitive mothers with a bit of a twist. Instead of bossing around toddlers wearing jeweled headdresses, she is micromanaging the life of her Pomeranian. She’ll be crashing pageants left and right in a manner that would make Sacha Baron Cohen nod approvingly.
As for how The Runner itself turned out, Hoover says, “It has a ‘John Grishammy’ vibe. It really does Louisiana justice. It shines a good light on the state.”
So do yourself a favor and check out this particularly Louisianian flick and check the particular Louisianian in it.