RICHMOND, Va. -- A teenager from Goochland is getting his first big break in a movie that has been shooting in Central Virginia.
Thirteen-year-old Sawyer Williams has a major role in “Tapawingo,” which explores the story of a “listless oddball who becomes the unlikely bodyguard for a misfit teenager and finds himself in the crosshairs of the town’s family of bullies,” according to the film’s producers.
Sawyer, who auditioned for the role via Zoom, said he was excited about the role and that he relates with his character, Oswalt.
“While he’s labeled as a misfit, I think he’s more of an individual,” Sawyer explained. “He isn’t concerned with popularity or following the crowd. I feel connected to him in that way. At least I hope I’m trying to be my own person and not just do things to blend in.”
The film also stars Jon Heder of “Napoleon Dynamite” fame, Billy Zane from “Titanic” and John Ratzenberger who played Cliff on the iconic sitcom “Cheers.”
The movie began filming in Hopewell in June, but has also shot at locations in Petersburg and Richmond. That is where scenes were filmed Friday in Scott’s Addition not far from the WTVR CBS 6 studios on Broad Street.
Director Dylan K. Narang called Central Virginia a “perfect spot” to film.
“It was not an L.A. movie and I don’t think it ever wanted to be an L.A. movie,” Narang said. “And that was important for me to try to figure out where we can shoot it that doesn’t feel like LA, because originally pre-COVID, we were going to shoot [there].”
In a previous interview, Narang lauded Hopewell for its “support and hospitality.”
“It is the perfect spot for our movie, and everyone we have talked to has bent over backwards to help us get this movie made,” Narang said. “I can’t thank the people of Hopewell and Virginia enough for making my decision to film here an easy one.”
Officials with the Appomattox Regional Library System shared that the Hopewell Library was one of the locales used for shooting. But officials said the filming did not impact the library's normal hours.
A variety of films and TV series have been shot in Hopewell, including the Oscar-nominated movie "Loving," the Daniel Radcliffe film "Imperium," the seventh season of "Homeland," "The Walking Dead: World Beyond" and the upcoming streaming series "Swagger" and "Dopesick," according to the Virginia Film Office.