‘Forrest Gump’ Star Directing New Hallmark Movie

Movie camera

Getty Camera captures actors on film set

Filming has just begun on a new Hallmark movie, “Spring Breakthrough,” in Mobile, Alabama. Though the network hasn’t yet divulged who’s starring in the flick, a familiar face will be behind the camera. According to AL.com, renowned actor and director Mykelti Williamson, who played Bubba opposite Tom Hanks in the 1994 classic “Forrest Gump,” is in Mobile to direct the movie, including overseeing hundreds of extras that casting agents have been seeking for the film. Here’s what you need to know:

New Hallmark Movie Will Feature ‘Luxurious Resort’ and Wedding Scenes With Large Number of Extras

Mykelti Williamson

GettyMykelti Williamson at a New York film premiere in March 2022

Though Williamson may be best known for his acting roles, like recently playing Preston Webb on season 2 of “Law & Order: Organized Crime,” he also often works behind the scenes as a director on TV series like “Chicago Med,” “Chicago P.D.” and “Sweet Magnolias.”

On January 30, 2023, Alabama casting agency Goleman Casting posted a Facebook photo of Williamson dropping by for a pre-production meeting on his upcoming Hallmark film.

The post said, “Casting meeting with our esteemed director, Mykelti Williamson, this morning. Getting ready for Hallmark’s SPRING BREAKTHROUGH in Mobile! Let’s make a movie!”

On February 13, Goleman Casting LLC posted on Facebook that it was the first day of filming for the movie and that it was still looking to hire hundreds of extras for the film. According to Mobile’s NBC TV affiliate, 15 News, the Alabama Film Office confirmed that the three-week Hallmark movie shoot is taking place on the campus of Spring Hill College.

Based on Goleman’s posts about the kinds of extras it’s looking for, the movie will include scenes at a resort and an open-air market. For instance, it was looking for 40 people to play “market shoppers” and 10 more to pretend they’re “vendors with pop-up shops and tents at an open air market” for filming on February 22.

Meanwhile, they were also looking for over 100 extras — both kids and adults — to play guests and employees at a luxurious resort. They had to be comfortable in the water, the casting call said, as they’ll be filming in the pool on February 23 and 24.

Next week’s shoots include filming people playing guests at the resort’s “Roots Restaurant and the Patio Cafe,” having fun at a tiki party, and attending the wedding of a character named Vivian, to be filmed on March 3. Vivian is likely one of the main characters in the movie, since Goleman has also been working on casting a child — a Black female who’s between five and eight years old — to play “young Vivian” in a flashback scene to be filmed on February 27.

Extras on “Spring Breakthrough” can expect to be paid $125 for 12-hour days. When someone asked whether that was accurate on Facebook, someone from the agency replied, “It’s a fairly standard rate for background work in the southeastern region film industry of the US.”

Mykelti Williamson Hinted at Future Directing Gigs in a Recent Interview

Tom Hanks, Mykelti Williamson

GettyActors Tom Hanks and Mykelti Williamson attend The 22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards in December 2016

Williamson, who will turn 66 on March 4, just as “Spring Breakthrough” wraps filming, has been acting since he was 18. In July 2022, he told Closer Weekly that he caught the acting bug at a young age.

“I did a play at my mom and my aunt’s church,” he recalled. “A stage mom had pulled her son out of the play on a Friday night. My aunt called. They got me dressed, and I went and watched the other kids do the play with a script in my hand. By Sunday, we went live, and I was offbook and got a standing ovation. It was that moment when I went, ‘Wow, this is cool.’ I was about 7 or 8 years old.”

While landing the role of Bubba in “Forrest Gump” was a huge win, he told Andscape in June 2022 that he was then typecast as a Southerner with a swollen lip — which he didn’t actually have.

“Being a transformative character actor, it took people a while to catch on,” he said. “So I hired a publicist to get my real face out there, next to Bubba Blue’s face so people could say, ‘Oh yeah! I’ve seen this cat!’ And so, the money I made on ‘Gump’ initially, I ended up spending, reinvesting, and saving my career.”

While he wound up having great success as an actor, he told Closer Weekly he’s looking forward to more future work as a director.

“I’ve been a director since the ’70s, but I put it on a back burner until five years ago,” he said. “I’m passionate about making really good movies that represent humanity on its highest level and crush stereotypes. That’s where I’m headed.”

“Spring Breakthrough” isn’t actually Williamson’s first Hallmark movie. He made a cameo in Hallmark’s “About the Holiday Stocking” in December.