While David Gordon Green’s PRINCE AVALANCHE (opening on August 9th) is largely a two-hander between stars Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, the performances many people walk away from the film remembering is from non-professional Joyce Payne and veteran character actor Lance LeGault. In just a handful of scenes, Joyce gives the film its real emotional core, and an incredibly moving and elegiac contrast to much of its more lighthearted (and testosterone-driven) content, and Lance injects a sense of boisterous comic seniority to the proceedings.
Perhaps most remarkably, Joyce’s character was not included in the script; while David was location scouting with Paul and producer Craig Zobel, they came upon Joyce digging through the ashes of her burnt-down house, talked to her for a bit, and asked her if she’d be willing to participate in the film and talk to Paul (in character) in the same manner she did with them. She wasn’t familiar with who Paul Rudd or Emile Hirsch were, but she obliged. As a result, Joyce heartbreakingly plays a sort-of version of herself in the film, improvising dialogue that came straight from her own experiences. Though not in the script, David shot the material and, later, found a way to incorporate it into the story.
Joyce finally saw the film at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March (she lives outside Austin), ultimately joining in with David, Paul and Emile for the Q&A in front of a packed house of over 1,000. She revealed that the process of shooting her scenes was incredibly cathartic for her, and after acting out these painful actions/recollections, she was finally able to move past them and stopped going to the house where she’d been compulsively digging.
David also makes use of Joyce in two other sequences, involving Lance LeGault’s truck driver – where she appears to be accompanying him, as Paul and Emile’s characters point out, though LeGault has no idea what old woman they’re talking about.
Lance was an American film and television actor, best known as Colonel Roderick Decker in the 1980’s American television series “The A-Team.” His first three feature films he starred in were three Elvis Presley movies, Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962) in which he was a stunt double for Elvis Presley, Kissin’ Cousins (1964), and Viva Las Vegas (1964). He also appeared in Elvis Presley’s groundbreaking 1968 NBC television special “Elvis” (also known as “Elvis’ 68 Comeback Special”), where he sat at the side of the stage playing a tambourine.
In 1969, he appeared as Iago in the UK stage version of Jack Good’s “Catch My Soul: Rock Othello,” and played Iago again in the 1974 Metromedia film version of “Catch My Soul.” He starred in television series and in television movies and was known mainly for portraying military personnel, especially officers. His best known television role was in the 1980s series “The A-Team” as Colonel Roderick Decker, a United States Army colonel who tried to catch the fugitive Vietnam veterans. He played the role of Colonel Decker from 1983 to 1986. He also had a recurring role in the other 1980s hit television series “Magnum, P.I.” as a United States Marine Corps colonel, Colonel “Buck” Greene.
Sadly, Lance passed away shortly after the filming of PRINCE AVALANCHE, but it’s a memorable and poignantly funny final turn from him, and the film is dedicated to his memory.
Here’s the official trailer for the film.
Press release, photos and trailer provided by Magnolia and Brigade Marketing