NEW YORK CITY— What happens when a man lives decades rejecting forgiveness? In Get Low, an unusual movie already attracting Oscar buzz, Bill Cobbs joins fellow actors Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, and Sissy Spacek in one story’s interesting response. Get Low, opened July 30 in theaters in New York and Los Angeles—and will be nationwide by Aug. 27. Based on a true event, this is the story of Felix Bush (Duvall), a man facing death, secrets, and people he’s hurt.
“The story speaks for itself in the way John Coltrane used to say ‘let the music speak for itself,'” Cobbs said. “It’s about love in all its aspects, its benefits, and its consequences.”
While Get Low, says its piece on love and mystery, audiences will also see the great themes of sin and tragedy, secrets and self-imprisonment, grace and forgiveness. Playing Pastor Charlie Jackson, Cobbs sets the movie’s moral compass from his history with Duvall’s Felix Bush. Cobbs also speaks the movie’s key line: about good and bad.
“Bill is a wonderful actor,” Duvall said. “We were fortunate to have him.”
Rich in Character
The 76-year-old Cobbs began his professional acting in NYC at age 36 after eight years in the Air Force and a stint at IBM. Between driving cabs and odd jobs, his early gigs included Ride a Black Horse at the Negro Ensemble, and the Eugene O’Neill Theater. He earned the Joseph Jefferson award for his principal role in a stage version of Driving Miss Daisy. By age 40, he was in feature films, starting with The Taking of Pelham One Two Three in 1974.
Fans now know Cobbs from his many movies such as Night At The Museum, The Ultimate Gift, Star Trek: Enterprise, New Jack Ciy, The Bodyguard, . . . and TV shows such as CSI, NYPD Blue, The Practice, The Drew Carey Show, and The Sopranos.
The True Story of Felix “Bush” Breazelale
The real Felix “Bush” Breazelale was a 1930’s hermit that staged his own funeral party. Georgia pastor Scott Seeke heard the old family story from his wife’s grandfather. Seeke wrote the first story and passed it to his longtime friend, screenwriter Chris Provenzano, of the acclaimed Mad Men series
“No one knows what motivated the real Felix other than his simple statement that he wanted to know what people would say,” Seeke said. “There were rumors he’d killed a man. We started there to ask why an old man would want to stage his own funeral.” Provenzano and Blood Diamond screenwriter C. Gaby Mitchell polished Get Low, and later handed to Academy Award-winning director Aaron Schneider.
Duvall plays Bush as a hard and selfish man seeking some kind of forgiveness but on his terms. In the same breath, Felix Bush yearns for grace and rejects it. Cobbs is the pastor, the “yardstick,” who insists that forgiveness is available but only on request.
“The story touches a universal chord,” said director Schneider, an Oscar winner for his short film, Two Soldiers. “The only meaningful way to live ultimately is to engage with the world and accept the love and forgiveness offered to you.”
One of the few personal remarks from the real Felix was that he had left society over a woman he wanted but could never have. In Get Low, that woman is known to widow Maddie Darrow, played by Sissy Spacek, winner of the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of another Southern woman, Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter. Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) is the town’s opportunistic undertaker.