“These are my people,” said a jubilant Naomi Judd as she walked onto the Red Carpet at the Franklin Theatre and took over the event. The occasion was a recent special screening of the independent family film An Evergreen Christmas with Robert Loggia, Charleene Closshey and Williamson County’s own Naomi Judd, longtime country music.
“I’ve seen my name in lights 40 feet high in Las Vegas and many other places, but to have my name in lights here in this very special place beats all that,” Judd said.
In the movie, Judd is Honey, the matriarch of the family. She has insight into the hearts of her grandchildren and understands the need for them to figure out life on their own.
She admitted Honey’s character was drawn from her own life as a woman who suffered domestic violence in her early years and then a mother who had to let go as her daughters found their way. Honey married an older man (Robert Loggia) who was gentle and kind; Naomi married Strickland.
“I had Naomi in mind when I wrote her character,” said Jeremy Culver, the director and the film’s co-writer with his sister Morgen Culver.
“Naomi, it was a dream and an honor to work with you,” he told her.
Culver said he used a collaborative process throughout the development of the script and the creation of the movie.
Working with his sister means both “check their ego at the door” and prepare to defend every word and idea through the voice and point of view of each character. It’s a process they have used before and will use again, he said.
“I love collaborating,” Culver said. “We’re all storytellers. Along the way [the actors] also play a part in telling the character’s story. For me, it verifies what it means to collaborate.”
Closshey plays Evie Lee, the daughter of a Tennessee Christmas tree farmer. Evie left the farm for the bright lights of Los Angeles, but is called home when her father dies suddenly.
A musician and an actress, Closshey showcases both talents in An Evergreen Christmas.
As Evie, she plays her violin to keep her dreams alive. As Charleene, she lived a dream when she composed the musical score for the film.
When Evie returns to Balsam Falls, Tenn., she discovers she is executor of her father’s estate, which faces a massive inheritance tax.
Brantley Pollock is Thomas, Evie’s younger brother. He stayed on the farm to help their father and hoped to one day run the business. Now his dreams are in the hands of a sister who left wanting no part of the land.
“I love the emphasis on the family,” Pollock said. “That’s how I grew up in Garner, N.C. I auditioned for the film at the last minute, but as soon as I met the character, I knew I wanted to do it.”
Pollock is also a musician, and recently moved to Nashville to fulfill a real-life dream.
He recently finished recording his first single.
An Evergreen Christmas is about facing the past, rediscovering dreams, and finding one’s place in the world. Also starring are Tyler Ritter (Adam), Jake Sandvig, Booboo Stewart and Greer Grammer.
It is available at Walmart, Amazon, on Dish and DIRECTV, iTunes, OnDemand, and on Dec. 21 it will be available on Netflix.
Portions of the proceeds from ticket sales and the DVD sales at the premier were donated to Tucker’s House, one of Naomi’s favorite charities. Tucker’s House helps families of children with disabilities access resources to help make their home accessible and safe and a place where necessary daily therapy can be carried out.