Arkansas film fans have been wondering about the long-unidentified young Arkansan chosen to play the co-starring role of Neckbone in Jeff Nichols' film Mud. Now we know: It's Jacob Lofland, 15, of Yell County.
The film, written and directed by Little Rock native Nichols (Take Shelter, Shotgun Stories) was filmed in various locations in southeast Arkansas. The eight-week shoot was completed over the weekend.
Mud is a coming-of-age drama about the adventures of two 14-year old boys who encounter a mysterious fugitive named Mud (Matthew McConaughey) hiding out on an island in the Mississippi River. Intrigued, they enter into a pact to help him evade capture and reconnect with the love of his life (Reese Witherspoon).
This is Lofland's first acting role. Tye Sheridan (Tree Of Life) stars as Ellis, the other teen-ager.
Other cast members include Sam Shepard, Michael Shannon, Sarah Paulson, Ray McKinnon, Joe Don Baker and Paul Sparks.
Lofland landed the role after his mother read a casting announcement from The Agency Inc. After reading about the character, he said, “Neckbone sounds like me.”
Jacob auditioned in Little Rock with Arkansas casting directors Sarah Tackett and Yancey Prosser and had a final audition with director Nichols in Austin, Texas before getting the part.
"We cast Jacob as Neckbone because he is Neckbone -- he can run a boat, ride a dirt bike, and has the attitude of a typical 14-year old," said Nichols. “He has immense natural instincts, and he's incredibly intelligent and quick to learn.”
“Working on this film has been incredible," Lofland said. "The director wrote a great story, and it has been awesome being a part of bringing it to life. I think everyone who sees Mud will say it’s a great and exciting movie.
“The Mud cast and crew come from all over the country, including Arkansas,” he continued. “It’s been like a big family, and I’ve made a lot of friends during the shoot. I really enjoyed spending time with Tye, both on and off screen.”
Mud is scheduled for theatrical release in 2012.