Filmmaker Ron Maxwell and screenwriter Bill Kauffman are among the special guests scheduled to attend the premiere of Copperhead, Ron Maxwell’s latest film, at the Majestic Theater in Gettysburg on June 27th, the eve of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Copperhead, which was shot in New Brunswick, starts at 6:30 p.m., and a Q & A session with Maxwell will follow immediately after the screening. Doors will open in advance and there will be a VIP reception preceding the screening. Maxwell, who wrote, directed and produced the movies Gettysburg and Gods and Generals has selected the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership as the beneficiary of this premiere. Merchandise will be available for purchase and signing prior to the screening, including the limited edition director’s cut collectors box set of Gettysburg and Gods and Generals.
Copperhead is unlike any Civil War story that has ever been filmed. Inspired by actual events, the movie tells the story of Abner Beech, a stubborn and righteous farmer from upstate New York who defies his neighbors and his government in the bloody and contentious autumn of 1862. Beech, played by actor Billy Campbell, despises slavery yet opposes the war. He is neither a Yankee nor a Rebel. He is what is known as a Copperhead. Copperhead is a story of the war at home – of a family ripped apart by war, of fathers set against sons and daughters, and a community driven to an appalling act of vengeance against a man who insists on exercising his right to free speech during wartime.
Doors to the event open at 5:30 p.m. for general admission attendees. In addition to Maxwell, screenwriter Bill Kauffman will be in attendance and some members of the cast are expected to attend.
Maxwell’s epic films of the Civil War Gettysburg (1993) and Gods and Generals (2003) have established him as cinema’s leading interpreter of that complex, lethal, heroic period in American history. Copperhead extends that study into the realm of small town American life, where the conflicts hundreds of miles from the battlefields are no less vigorous or violent. Maxwell studied filmmaking at NYU and made his first mark directing Sissy Spacek and William Hurt in Verna: USO Girl, a television feature for which Maxwell was nominated for an Emmy. His first theatrical film Little Darlings (1980) was a box-office smash that starred Tatum O’Neal and Kristy McNichol. Over the course of the next decade, while gathering the support to realize his ambitions for Gettysburg, Maxwell directed other features (The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia, Parent Trap II, Kidco) and a documentary study of the Nicaraguan Civil War: In the Land of the Poets (1987). Maxwell looks upon Copperhead as a natural extension of his interest in the American Civil War – an intimate story that holds up a distant mirror to divisions still afflicting the United States today.
Joining Maxwell at the Gettysburg premiere will be screenwriter Bill Kauffman; novelist, biographer, memoirist, and self-confessed delirious localist who years ago left Washington, D.C., to return to his small hometown. His many books – most notably Ain’t My America and Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet – have been praised for their rigor and honesty by such diverse figures of the American spectrum as Christopher Hitchens, Ron Paul, and Gore Vidal. This is Kauffman’s first screenplay. As a born and bred native of the Upstate New York region, he has long been aware of the novels of his fellow landsman Harold Frederic, upon whose 1893 novel Copperhead is based.
Members of the film’s cast that are confirmed to be in attendance at the Gettysburg premiere include Angus Macfadyen, Augustus Prew, Lucy Boynton, Josh Crudas, Francois Arnaud, and Casey Brown.
Macfadyen, born in Glasgow, Scotland, attended the prestigious Central School of Speech and Drama in London. He easily found work on stage and screen, quickly gaining international acclaim for his tour-de-force performance as Robert the Bruce in the Oscar- winning film Braveheart. Over the course of his twenty-year career, he has appeared in dozens of feature films and television shows. His extraordinary range as an actor has led to roles with some of the greatest talents in Hollywood, including starring roles in projects such as Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood opposite Sandra Bullock, Equilibrium with Christian Bale, Julie Taymor’s Titus with Anthony Hopkins, and playing the role of Orson Welles in Tim Robbins’ Cradle Will Rock. His most recent project was We Bought a Zoo, written and directed by Academy Award-Winner Cameron Crowe. He plays Jee Hagadorn in Copperhead.
Prew, who plays Ni Hagadorn, began acting in 2001 when he was in his early teens. Since then, Prew has appeared in more than five films and eight television productions – most notably About a Boy (2002), directed by brothers Chris and Paul Weitz, and Charlie St. Cloud (2010), costarring Zac Efron. His TV work includes Neil Jordan’s critically acclaimed Showtime series “The Borgias,” where he has appeared as Prince Alfonso II, ruling Naples for his senile father.
Boynton plays Esther Hagadorn. Her first professional role was the young Beatrix Potter in the 2006 movie Miss Potter, with Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor. She then went on to play one of the three leads in the BBC Drama “Ballet Shoes,” with Emma Watson, Victoria Wood, and Emilia Fox. Other credits include Margaret Dashwood in the BBC serial “Sense and Sensibility,” Mo with Julie Walters, and a role in the 2011 BBC series “Borgia: Faith and Fear.”
Josh Cruddas, a young actor based in Canada, plays the role of Jimmy. His previous credits include principal roles in HBO Canada’s “Call Me Fitz” with Jason Priestley and Discovery Channel’s “Titanic: The Aftermath.” In addition, he has performed for many years in professional theatre and has worked as a voice-over artist. Also a singer, Josh trained at Dalhousie University’s Acting Programme and writes music for film when he’s not onstage or onscreen.
Francois Arnaud, who plays Warner Pitts, attended the prestigious Conservatoire National d’Art Dramatique de Montreal. He can currently be seen starring as Cesare Borgia (son of Golden Globe nominee Jeremy Irons) on Neil Jordan’s critically-acclaimed Showtime miniseries “The Borgias,” now in production on its third season. In 2009, he starred in the film Les Grandes Chaleurs (Heat Waves), an adaptation of a play by Michel Marc Bouchard. In 2010, he starred in I Killed My Mother, directed by Xavier Dolan and was awarded the Vancouver Film Critics award for Best Supporting Actor. That same year, he was nominated for a Gemini Award as Best Actor in a Dramatic Series for his role as ‘Theo’ in the drama “Yamaska,” a long-running, one-hour television series.
Born and raised in Montana, Casey Brown (starring as Jeff Beech) was drawn to the theatre at an early age, playing roles in productions ranging from West Side Story and Annie Get Your Gun to A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet. Casey currently resides in Los Angeles as both a professional actor, and as a USC student fulfilling his David Dukes Memorial Scholarship for acting.
Other special guests may also be in attendance and the list is subject to change. General admission tickets for the premiere are $20 and VIP tickets are $60, which includes a private reception and special reserved seating. A portion of the ticket sales will benefit the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership. “When this film came together, it seemed appropriate to have the opening with the Journey Through Hallowed Ground,” said Maxwell. “I’ve been very privileged to be a part of this organization, to see it grow and prosper and go into all the many diverse programs that are now underway,” he said. Sponsors for the event include the Gettysburg Times and The Gettysburg Companion. Tickets can be purchased through the Majestic Theater, which is located at 25 Carlisle Street in downtown Gettysburg. Tickets for the screening can be purchased online.