Dumas, Ark. seldom gets attention in national news, but when two A-List celebrities come into town, Arkansas gets its name on the map. When Reese Witherspoon and Matthew McConaughey came to town, people were wondering if the world was coming to an end. Luckily, it’s not, and the two were in town to shoot a movie called “Mud.”
Jeff Nichols, a native award-winning Arkansan, brings his next feature to Southeast Arkansas. The movie was filmed in the areas of Dumas, Dewitt and Stuttgart.
The cast and crew only shot in Arkansas for two weeks, but that was enough time to get people buzzing about “Mud.”
Area residents had the opportunity to participate in the film as extras and stand-ins. They needed residents to play high school teens. The movie asked people who were teenagers between 16 and 20 years old to participate in the movie as extras.
Dumas was thrilled to hear that a movie was to be filmed featuring parts of the town, especially one starring Reese Witherspoon.
The financial benefits defiantly outweighed the inconvenience in the street closings and local business closings. Multiple businesses were paid for the use of their store fronts, parking lots and the entirety of buildings.
The excitement of the film was certainly a positive conversation for the small town community. Before letting Witherspoon go out and eat at Dumas Country Club, one of the film crew members had been out a few days prior to her arrival in the area to investigate the layout of the club. One special person had the opportunity to meet Witherspoon.
Delinda Vaughn, manager of the Dumas Country Club, got that opportunity.
“I was thrilled, of course, to think I was definitely getting to meet her in person,” said Delinda.
Shooting a movie in a small town, word travels fast via cell-phone and Facebook. People found out within minutes that Witherspoon and McConaughey were in town. During this time there were not many people at the country club, but when they learned that Reese was there, it was too late. “Several of our members came in and out of the club without recognizing her,” said Delinda.
The town went crazy thinking they had a chance to run into America’s sweetheart. Delinda sat down with Reese and talked to her for three hours.
“I had very high expectations of Reese. I was not disappointed. She was every bit the gracious, funny and down-to-earth person she comes across in many of her movies. Everyone that we met connected with this movie was very polite and gracious,” said Delinda.
Being one of the few places to eat in Dumas, the cast and crew ate at Dumas Country Club, where Delinda works. She got to meet many of the directors and crew members involved with the movie.
“We discussed everything from the local economy, the farming operations of many in the area and the club golf course,” Vaughn said. She never dared to ask her any personal questions about her family or life. Appearing to be very comfortable, Reese asked for a golf cart to ride around the course. “We certainly brought one to the back door for her to drive. She and her two friends took off riding for a few minutes,” said Vaughn.
Witherspoon wasn’t dressed in high-dollar designer clothes, but sought out to wear a more laid-back appearance.
To the club she wore jeans, a very casual button-up plaid shirt and a cap. “With Reese being very down-to-earth, the world would be a much nicer place to live if we all were as nice as what she came across to everyone that met her at the club,” Vaughn said.
This film will be Jeff Nichols’ third feature film; “Mud” will be a drama for everyone to see.
“I can’t wait to see the movie,” Vaughn said. “I will have to get in a long line at the theater. Everyone in a hundred-mile radius will be waiting to see this movie.”
With the movie still in production, many Americans along with many Arkansans will have to wait a little while longer before they can see their small town on a big screen in theaters.