Breann Johnson, a lead in “Red Wing.” Photo courtesy of Scott Appel Media
Breann Johnson, a lead in “Red Wing.”
Photo courtesy of Scott Appel Media

Breann Johnson, one of the leads in “Red Wing,” the opening-night film for the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema, spoke to the Town Crier last week. “Red Wing” is directed by Will Wallace, the festival’s co-director.

Town Crier: How did you become interested in acting?

Breann Johnson: As an 8-year-old, I was in my first stage play. Ever since then I’ve been acting, but mostly on stage. Then as an adult, I decided to try film acting.

While there are similarities, there are big differences. One major difference is the use of the face. In films, there are the close ups. On stage, there is more projection [for the audience].

TC: Is training necessary? How much?

BJ: Mostly the experience for them both. From acting classes, learn to be in touch with my feelings, to be in the moment rather than the part. Film acting classes were very helpful and led to the role in “Red Wing.”

TC: What was difficult about this role? (Johnson plays Maddie, who, as a young wife, fosters a boy, Francis, who becomes part of her family. When he grows up, he is driven away, but eventually returns to deal with their relationship. Luke Perry plays Maddie’s husband.)

BJ: The most difficult aspect was becoming a mother. I don’t have any children; I’m not there yet in my life. But becoming a mother meant learning how to love by putting someone else’s needs first.

Second, I had to learn to use a Texas accent. For two months before filming, I was practicing it everywhere and, fortunately, a few times ran into a Texan who would help.

TC: How is your career changing?

As a result of her leading role in “Red Wing,” doors are beginning to open for her career, she said. While considering several projects, she is not ready to announce her next steps.

TC: What was your reaction to meeting and working with actors such as Bill Paxton, Joelle Carter and Frances Fisher?

BJ: Here I was working with actors who I had always looked up to. They turned out to be great. They were very warm and very welcoming. They were eager to work with me and help me go forward with different things.

TC: Have you been to Idyllwild?

In response, Johnson said she had been to the Idyllwild festival two years ago and met a lot of new people. “It was fabuluous and I’m looking forward to this week,” she added.

Johnson was to attend the festival’s opening night feature of the movie scheduled for 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7 at the Rustic Theatre. While she has other commitments during the week, she hopes to return for the festival’s closing Saturday. “Red Wing” will be shown again at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 11 at the Rustic.

“Red Wing” is loosely-based on George Sand’s French novella, “The Country Waif.” Rather than the green and pastoral French countryside, “Red Wing” is set in a small Texas cattle-ranching town. It’s a socially, thought-provoking and stirring love story of how love can be found in the most unusual places.

“It’s a story of a boy [Glen Powell] and the woman [Johnson] who was the maternal figure in his life,” said Wallace. “It’s different takes on him — a very noble character surrounded by a number of other characters with less than noble intentions and the series of obstacles he needs to overcome.”

Powell plays the adult Francis, who leaves town and finds work on the cattle ranch of Jim Verret, played by Bill Paxton. Eventually, Francis returns home to deal with his feelings and relationship with the woman who raised him (Johnson) and her husband (Luke Perry).

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