McConaughey pic filming in Edgard

Published 7:16 am Wednesday, March 25, 2015

EDGARD — Local filming for “The Free State of Jones,” a Matthew McConaughey-starring Civil War drama, is expected to wrap up this week in Edgard.

St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs Commander C.J. Destor said traffic control began at 5 a.m. Monday and is anticipated to continue until at least eight p.m. Thursday.

“Through Thursday, and maybe Friday and Saturday, we will be directing the coming and going of traffic at (Louisiana) 18 and the east and west side of the (Evergreen Plantation,)” Destor said. “In order to keep out the sound effects from the traffic, deputies are stopping vehicles approximately three miles away from the filming in three- to four-minute intervals.”

Evergreen Plantation is located on Louisiana 18 in Edgard. The plantation will be closed to the public through April 3.

Organizers say Evergreen is the most intact plantation complex in the South with 37 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, including 22 slave cabins.

“Free State of Jones” is set during the Civil War, according to Rikki Hegwood of Caballero Casting, which is charged with finding local talent to serve as background extras throughout filming.

Hegwood said film, written and directed by Gary Ross, stars McConaughey as Newt Knight, a defiant Southern farmer.

“His story takes viewers through the twist and turns of his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy; where opposed to slavery and secession, Knight launched an uprising of poor white farmers that led Jones County, Miss., to itself secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones,” Hegwood said.

Caballero Casting is holding open casting calls for black men and women in Edgard and the surrounding areas to work as background actors and actresses.

“Caballero is seeking actors with distinguishing features of (black) men and women over the age of 18 that will portray the roles of slaves and sharecroppers,” Hegwood said. “The slave and sharecropper role description calls for those who have natural grown-out hair. Qualified candidates must not have hair extensions, recent haircuts, modern haircuts or dreadlocks.”

Those applying must submit two current clear photos of themselves that include their name, contact number, height and weight. Those interested are asked to email

Background actors are expected to work 12-hour days and be available for costume fittings.

“The Free State of Jones” is expected to continue filming in Clinton, Lafayette and the North Shore at different times. This project films through June and is scheduled to hit theaters March 11, 2016.

— By Gladys Davis Mulkey