On Jan. 20, a special Atlanta premiere screening of “The Founder” was held at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema with a question-and-answer session with some of the local actors in the film. “The Founder” stars Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, the man who built McDonald’s into the success it is today. The Atlanta area stood in for many Midwestern cities in the film, and several of the featured cast members are Georgia locals.
Georgia’s Justin Randell Brooke, who plays Kroc’s protégé Fred Turner, is managed by Woodstock resident Laureen Muller. Brooke recalled one of his favorite moments with Keaton on set. In the film, there is a scene in which Brooke’s character and Kroc meet with two franchisers over dinner. “We shot that scene over two days, but I didn’t have any lines. After the first shot, Michael Keaton turns to me and says ‘Awful quiet there, Fred!’ So our director decided to throw me a line or two.”
Canton resident Mike Pniewski worked opposite Michael Keaton as well, giving him the go no-go for his initial loan that started the beginning of the international franchise. “Working with Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch (who portrayed the McDonald’s brothers) was such a pleasure. Two of the nicest guys you ever want to meet or work with,” Pniewski said.
The cast enjoyed the spontaneity and freedom allowed on set, the chance to improv during their scenes. “We were told by our director to improvise, and that’s really rewarding as an actor to have that freedom,” said Chris Greene, one of the local actors.
But actors aren’t the only local talent in “The Founder.” Keep an eye out for small-town Georgia locales such as the Canton Theatre.
As for some of the cast, most are working on new projects in and around the Atlanta area. Brooke will have a recurring role in the second season of the Cinemax series “Outcast” and in the new Netflix series “Ozark,” which was shot in and around Canton. Greene takes on vampires in “Vampire Diaries” and the demons of “Outcast” on Cinemax.
By Torie Winkler, contributing writer