Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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HOLLYWOOD COMES TO BURLINGTON: Alamance native brings movie production, Hollywood star to area

It wasn’t a command from Olympus that brought actor Kevin Sorbo to Alamance County this week. Instead, the celebrated film star, who’s best known as the titular hero of TV’s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, had a much less fantastical reason to be in this neck of the woods – but one that may, in the end, prove just as inspiring as any number of mythical labors.

For the past several days, Sorbo has been at Atlantic & Pacific Studios in Burlington, where principal photography is now underway on a feature film about Danny Jefferson – a Burlington native who overcame congenital deafness to become a successful funeral director and standup comedian.

Although born almost entirely deaf, Jefferson has managed to distinguish himself as a leader in the life and death field of mortuary science thanks, in part, to a self-deprecating sense of humor that he later parlayed into a sideline in the brutal profession of standup.

Jefferson ultimately chronicled this tale of triumph over adversity in a jocular memoir called From ‘Hear’ to Forever. In time, his inimical life story snagged the attention of fellow Alamance County native Dean Jones, who founded Atlantic & Pacific Studios with his brother Starr after the pair made names for themselves as makeup artists in TV and film.

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Jones told The Alamance News that Jefferson’s tale of life, hope, and redemption struck him as an ideal subject for his production company to adapt for the big screen.

[Story continues below photos of Dean Jones, Kevin Sorbo, and Chris Mulkey.)

 Filming in Burlington


“It’s a true story based on a funeral director from Burlington,” Jones recalled during a brief break from filming on Tuesday. “It’s also a faith-based story – but one with commercial appeal.”

Dubbed Another Life, the cinematic treatment of Jefferson’s saga has begun to take on a life of its own within a repurposed Copland Fabrics facility in the unincorporated community of Hopedale, where Jones and his brother have set up their own distinctive venue for motion picture production.

With Jones as its director, the movie has drawn on the skills of a crew who hail largely from North Carolina – as well as a cast whose locally-sourced members include a Burlington police officer who has been tapped to play a cop in the film.  But when it came to the film’s lead, Jones knew he would need a more seasoned acting talent – one that he eventually found when Sorbo entered the picture.

Although widely known for his turn as the rough-and-ready Hercules, Sorbo has also appeared in other, more nuanced roles – the most recent of which have been in faith-based, inspirational films. In either case, Jones found the man behind the mythological demigod to be a perfect fit for the all-too human protagonist of his upcoming feature.

As for what happens next, the whole story will ultimately unfold when Another Life makes its debut at a theater near you.

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