Comings and Goings…Hanging out with George C. Scott and Barrymore in the HNG

While searching for some background information for a story I’m working on for the future, I came across a clipping of a favorite day as a reporter at the Rutherford County News in September 1983.

It brought back a lot of memories of the day I spent hanging out on a Lake Lure movie set with crews, transportation directors, staff and a slew of other people making the movie “Firestarter” with George C. Scott and Drew Barrymore. Daniel Keith and Martin Sheen also starred in the film that hit the screen in 1984.

Thirteen years later to the month of Mr. Scott’s time in Rutherford County, he passed away on Sept 22, 1996.

As I read the full page story from 39 years ago,  “Hollywood Returns To the Gorge…”  I remembered the young Drew Barrymore, almost 10 years old at the time, being quiet, having to take a three-hour break from the filming schedule to do schoolwork. At that time her mother traveled with her on all sets and was by constantly by her side.

I spent a lot of time talking with the film’s transportation director, Russ Powell. I owe him another thank-you to this very day for making sure I had an opportunity to meet Mr. Scott, who was in his trailer in the woods near the film set on the lake.

I remember Powell telling me just to hang around a while and I’d have a chance to meet the actor.

Sure enough, after waiting a long time, he came outside his trailer and sat on the steps for more than 30 minutes to chat with a Henderson Times News reporter and myself.

Scott was larger than life, was friendly, cooperative, funny, sensitive, and patient. Once he came out of his trailer, he didn’t seem to be in a hurry at all and thanked us for being there. He was very personable, not exactly what I had expected based on the movie star I knew.

At that time, he hadn’t been in North Carolina for more than 30 years to drive through on a trip to Florida.

Scott came out of his trailer that day dressed in casual Jeans, denim shirt and boots with long hair in a ponytail. His dog Max was beside him. Before having his own lunch, Scott prepared lunch for Max.

I think of those days a long time ago now it seems when I had an opportunity to meet several stars of Hollywood, but mostly the stars of Rutherford County.

Recently I came across a woman who reminded me I had written about her grandson when he was a child. The story was of Justin, a self-taught pianist at age 11, and I traveled to their home and listened to Justin play the piano.

Justin is the Worship Leader at Salem United Methodist Church in Bostic and when she told me that, I smiled from ear to ear.

Justin volunteered at the Washburn Outreach Center where I also volunteer at the food pantry. I didn’t have a clue I had interviewed him years ago. This little boy surely grew up.

I don’t remember all thousands of stories I’ve written in my 50-year career, but I do know this — it’s an over-the-top moment when someone reminds me of a story I wrote about their family member or friend. I don’t always remember all the details, so I’m glad for the reminders. 

I am grateful I caught up with that same little piano player recently that I met a long time ago and thankful I have a filing cabinet of “seemingly a million little stories.” 

So, rambling through my file cabinet I was reminded of the people who certainly made a difference to me and others through nearly 50 years of writing from the Hickory Nut Gorge to south Rutherford and beyond.

I will always be grateful for the people I have met along the way in the best job ever.

Jean Gordon is an award-winning journalist spending her career writing the news of Rutherford County.

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