Wheale lands dream role in up­com­ing Ang Lee film

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By BRENT BAR­RON

Dreams came true for one Cedar­town native and now Brookhaven­based ac­tress Laura Lundy Wheale when she got a call in­form­ing her she was direc­tor Ang Lee’s first choice for a part in his up­com­ing film.

“It was not a call I was ex­pect­ing,” Wheale said. “I was in Sa­van­nah at the time walk­ing down the street and I think peo­ple thought I was crazy be­cause I started just laugh­ing. It was a sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence.”

That sur­real feel­ing car­ried over as Wheale filmed on the set of Lee’s movie “Billy Lynn’s Long Half­time Walk,” where she played ac­tress Kris­ten Ste­wart’s older sis­ter, Patty Lynn.

“Not only was it my first ma­jor stu­dio film, but also my first time meet­ing true A- list celebri­ties and an A-list direc­tor,” Wheale said. “I was just try­ing to hold it all in and slow down as much as I could.

Wheale re­calls one ex­pe­ri­ence where Lee had her do­ing a sin­gle line over and over again while the cam­era kept rolling.

“I started get­ting frus­trated be­cause I thought I was not do­ing what he wanted me to do,” she said. “Fi­nally he told them to cut and came to me, gave me a big hug and told me I did a good job. He could see I was get­ting flus­tered, but what it re­ally was is that he needed the emo­tion un­der­neath that line to be de­liv­ered right. I did not re­al­ize that at the time, but look­ing back I can see, ‘Oh my gosh, that is what you were do­ing!’”

Wheale says she first got the “act­ing bug” af­ter tak­ing classes at Atlanta’s Al­liance Theatre when she was eleven-years-old. That led her to ma­jor in act­ing for her un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree and seek ad­di­tional train­ing in LA at the Stras­berg Theatre and Film In­sti­tute.

About three years ago, Wheale said she hired an agent and be­gan au­di­tion­ing for more film roles.

Act­ing is not yet a full­time ca­reer for Wheale, who con­tin­ues to play the role of a mass tort lit­i­ga­tor at a lo­cal law firm.

She said bal­anc­ing the two jobs can be try­ing.

“I am very for­tu­nate to work at Childers, Schlueter & Smith be­cause they have been so flex­i­ble for me when it comes to au­di­tion­ing or shoot­ing in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions,” she said. “Be­tween them work­ing with me or me go­ing in to shoot on nights or week­ends and work­ing re­motely when I travel — I just make it hap­pen.”

Wheale has lived in Brookhaven now for three years with her hus­band and their two dogs. When mov­ing to Atlanta from the much smaller Cedar­town, Ge­or­gia, she said Brookhaven ap­pealed to her with its small-town feel.

“I am used to the perks of a small town, where you know ev­ery­one and can call any­one up,” she said. “I have come to en­joy that as­pect of Brookhaven.”

While Wheale con­tin­ues to prac­tice law by day, that isn’t stop­ping her from pur­su­ing more projects.

“It is so great to have the film in­dus­try here with so many op­por­tu­ni­ties in-front of and be­hind the cam­era,” she said. “I think it is re­ally show­ing how much tal­ent we have right here in Ge­or­gia.”

So far in her ca­reer, Wheale says she has played roles of char­ac­ters that are care­givers. She said that flows nat­u­rally for her as the old­est of four sib­lings. She said it would be fun to break that mold and play a vil­lain some­time, catch­ing peo­ple off guard.

Cur­rently, the ac­tress is host­ing a doc­u­men­tary-style se­ries that is film­ing around parts of Alabama . The pro­gram, which will air next year, will in­tro­duce view­ers to peo­ple, restau­rants and adventures around the state

“As some­one who has ap­peared on stage with Laura and di­rected her in plays, I’m very im­pressed with her as an ac­tress and as a per­son [...] and I am real- ly not sur­prised that Laura is find­ing suc­cess,” said fam­ily friend Chuck Mor­ris, who acted along­side Wheale in her very first stage role and sev­eral oth­ers. “Laura is not just tal­ented, she is very de­ter­mined and very pro­fes­sional, never has to be told some­thing twice, and ac­cepts di­rec­tion very well and is easy to work with.”

When not busy with work, Wheale said you might find her at the dog park, rock climb­ing or play­ing tennis — the sport that won her a full schol­ar­ship through col­lege.

You can see Wheale as Patty Lynn in “Billy Lynn’s Long Half­time Walk” when it re­leases in Novem­ber on Vet­eran’s Day.

Con­trib­uted

Laura Lundy Wheale is a na­tive of Cedar­town and was work­ing at Parker and Lundy be­fore tak­ing on op­por­tu­ni­ties in the film world.

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