Mallory Johnson is working on becoming a double threat. The award winning country singer is gearing up for her first movie role in the indie thriller “Into The Wilderness”.
Johnson says she jumped at the chance to audition.
“It was so bizarre and cool all at once,” she commented. “I’ve done a lot of musical theatre and been involved in music, but I never pictured myself doing film.
“One day my manager called me up and said, ‘Are you interested in auditioning for a film?’ I was like, ‘Oh sure, why not’, ‘cause what’s the worst thing that could come of it? Best case scenario I could land a role or get a music placement. Worst case scenario, I may make a couple of new friends, so there really wasn’t anything to lose.”
“Into The Wilderness”, set during the Civil War, is shooting in Knoxville, Tennessee. Johnson doesn’t know what her character is yet but suspects she might play the wife of a confederate soldier. Not a bad gig since she thought she blew her audition.
“I’ll be honest, I thought I did a terrible job,” Johnson admitted. “I feel like they wanted me to have a southern accent and I wasn’t even going to tackle that because I didn’t want to embarrass myself.”
Johnson’s manager suggested she bring her guitar to the audition. Following her acting audition the director and producers noticed the instrument and invited her to play it for them.
“They asked me if I knew any old war songs,” she noted. “I said, ‘As a matter of fact I do.’”
She recorded such a song with her family band, the Cormiers years ago. It’s called “Missing In Action”.
“My mom used to sing me to sleep with this song all the time,” she recalled. “I sang them what I could remember of this song, I could see the gears turning in the director’s head. He just kept saying ‘interesting, interesting.’”
Johnson’s manager recommended that she also treat the team to an original song. She then performed a number that had nothing to do with the theme or tone of the film.
“It’s just this quirky little country song,” Johnson explained. “They loved it and they said, ‘If this movie thing doesn’t happen, we want to do a music video for that song you just sang to us’. I was like ‘wicked’.
“That was really wonderful of them to offer that. Then a couple of weeks later we got a call and they wanted me to act in a few of the scenes in the movie as well as write music for the film, which is crazy, that never happens. It’s rare to get that kind of opportunity.”
Johnson submitted five songs for the director’s consideration, including three she and co-writers prepared specifically for the film, which her character will sing in one of her scenes. She is waiting to hear which songs the team will pick.
Although film acting is new to her, Johnson has been singing on stage since she was 11 years old with a band comprised of family members — her mom Loretta, uncle Gordon and cousin Randal. The Cormiers won awards and toured the U.S. and Scotland. She also performed in several musical theatre shows produced by the Spirit of Newfoundland.
After a two-year stint in Toronto, where she applied for the permits to live and work in the U.S., Johnson moved to Nashville to be in the epicenter of the country music industry.
Following her acting debut, Johnson plans to continue writing new music and possibly record and release some singles in the near future. She also has gigs booked, including the role of Cindy Loo Hoo in the Spirit of N.L.’s December production of Grinch, Dressing & Gravy.
For now though her focus is on the film.
“I am nervous and excited and I don’t know what to expect,” Johnson said. “I’m just pumped to be on set. I’ve never been on a film set before so it’s all brand new.”
She is also eagerly anticipating all the fascinating new people she will meet through the shoot.
“The guy playing the lead, Shuler Hensley, he’s a Tony award winner, so I’m really looking forward to meeting him. He was in the Greatest Showman so I’m really excited to pick his brain about Zac Efron,” Johnson giggled.