Recently released NOLA-shot film “The Runner” has a special meaning to Baton Rouge native Brooke Hoover.
As New Orleans as a film can get, the new Nicolas Cage film, “The Runner,” (opened in limited release Aug. 7 in select theaters, on iTunes and On Demand) was not only filmed in the city last year, it tells the story of a fictional NOLA politician whose career is in a tailspin following a sex scandal during the same time as the city is battling the BP oil spill.
Packed with familiar city views, food and accents, it tells a story all too familiar to locals, but one Baton Rouge native says it will always hold a special significance to her.
‘The Runner’ is my first work in a film with a nationwide theatrical release,” says professional actress and comedian Brooke Hoover. “To have it also be my first role in a movie filmed back home makes it extra special.”
An actress since she caught “the bug” at Episcopal High School thanks to her teacher, Danny Tiberghein, Hoover moved to New York City for college and graduated from the Long Island University at CW Post. From there she says she moved on to sketch comedy and “a ton of off-, off-Broadway.”
Hoover’s résumé includes roles on “Law and Order SVU” and “What Would You Do?” along with the lead role in a graduate thesis film called “Bunny” that was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival.
She says her role as Maryellen Briggs in “The Runner,” which she describes as “a reporter that discovers some dirt,” is a welcome departure from her previous work.
“It’s my first role when I’m not in my PJs hitting somebody or playing a hooker,” she laughs.
Hoover quickly becomes teary, however, when she talks about her experience filming in New Orleans.
“Typically when I’m waiting for my cue in New York I’ll be in some room looking at a cement wall,” she says, “but with this film there was a point where I was looking out at Lake Pontchartrain, and I thought to myself, this is what it’s all about.”
She says she’s also proud of the subject matter of the movie.
“The opening segment is really powerful — I was in tears from the get-go,” she says. “I think it’s so good that this story is being told, that it’s going to remind people of what happened.” She says she remembers her father, a local lawyer, donating his time to help relocate animals owned by area fishermen. “Suddenly these people couldn’t afford food for themselves, let alone any pets,” she says.
In terms of recent changes within her own industry, Hoover says that even from New York she made sure to let her voice be heard on the film tax incentives.
“I was emailing and calling my congressman all the time,” she says. “Living in New Jersey, I saw firsthand how when Christie pulled the incentives from the state, everyone just packed up and moved, including ‘Law and Order’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire.’”
She says she still has “high hopes” that the same fate will not someday fall on Louisiana, and that “The Runner” will be only the first of many more local gigs.
“Ideally, I’d love to be able to work half time in New York and half time back home,” she says. “Maybe produce a short film of my own here someday.”
Kimberley Singletary is the managing editor of Biz New Orleans magazine. A 20-year Southern California veteran, she has been surrounded by the film industry for most of her life and is thrilled to be covering its emersion in her newly adopted home.