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Volume 24, Number 10 — November 2017

Robin Mullins is busy with her film and television roles

Robin Mullins in her favorite role from
Robin Mullins in her favorite role from "Gramps" with Andy Griffith.
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By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | September 25, 2013

Robin Mullins has had a busy year with roles in the movies "Safe Haven" and "The World Made Straight" and the TV series "Rectify." She shot "Rectify" and "Safe Haven" at the same time in locations seven hours apart.

"My role in "Safe Haven' was Maddie, the owner of the fish restaurant who gave Jullianne Hough's character her much needed job upon arrival to her safe haven," Mullins says. "Maddie was seen as overworked, straight forward, with a good heart and helped establish that Southport was, indeed, a good place to be, with a circle of caring people around.

"I worked off and on for about three weeks, alternating the work on "Safe Haven' with work on "Rectify,' a six-part series on Sundance Channel. I would finish up in Southport, N.C., and drive seven or so hours to just outside Atlanta to work on "Rectify.' My role in "Rectify' was very dramatic, and I enjoyed the work very much. I loved working with director Ray McKinnon. It was amazing to be cast in two wonderful roles in two exceptional films at the same time. Both movie companies worked with me on it and understood, sometimes adjusting schedules to fit."

After those two roles, she began acting in "The World Made Straight," a film based on the novel by Ron Rash.

"I play the mother of the lead actor, Travis, the young boy in the book, who is played by Jeremy Irvine. Jeremy had a starring role in "War Horse' and although British, pulled off a North Carolina accent very convincingly. Playing his girlfriend was Adelaide Clemmons, who was also in "Rectify.'

""The World Made Straight' was filmed around the Black Mountain, N.C., area and was nice because it was such a short drive to get to the set. The director, David Burris, was from Greensboro, N.C. An added surprise was that Steve Earle, a favorite musician of mine, played the role of Carlton. Carlton is a rough man who sings like an angel, and Steve was perfect for the part. He sings "Poor Wayfaring Stranger' in the movie.

"My character was a mountain woman who was kind, but put upon by her husband. She loved her son, but knew that it was time that he made his own way in the world. My teen years were in the "70s, and as the book is set in the rural "70s, it brought back lots of memories of living in Kentucky during that time."

"Rectify" and "The World Made Straight" have made it on Mullins' list of favorite roles. Her favorite remains working on "Gramps" with Andy Griffith. "I got to wear vintage dresses, smash dozens of roses, drive old cars while the director was on the hood and be dramatic. I hadn't had any roles like that before and enjoyed it. It was only a day job, one day, but I loved it. "Rectify' was a high point as well; I had so much respect on set from the director and producers and enjoyed the dramatic role of the mother of the murdered girl. I cannot wait to see "The World Made Straight.' That was a good role, although it was a cold and rainy time of the year, and we all were chilled to the bone."

Mullins got her start in acting by developing her singing and guitar skills, which got her a job at Lime Kiln Theatre in Lexington, Va. The director, Don Baker from Pound, Va., often cast musicians first in his plays so that the music would be authentic.

"He found that most musicians are natural actors with a good sense of rhythm and timing, essential on stage," Mullins says. "I worked with The Red Clay Ramblers, Robin and Linda Williams, Carol Elizabeth Jones and James Leva and several other local musicians who are well known in musical circles here and around. I worked for four years at Lime Kiln as a member of the resident company.

"It was a wonderful job to go to every day, to be creative, sing, dance, etc. And although a difficult workload, it helped pave the way for the rest of my life. We went through so much there that I felt anything else would be easy. I learned to throw myself out there without fear of embarrassment or concern for my ego when trying to discover just what Don wanted and that helped pave the way. Sometimes we just have to throw out everything, with no concern for how we are perceived by others, to discover our place in life.

"I enjoyed the tight circle of creative friends that being in a stage production brings. I loved being on stage back then and feeling my self expand and elevate. I liked when the lights hit perfectly, or when we all were lifted by what we were doing, the appreciation of the audience and the extreme creative work."

Mullins says that people often ask her how she can have such a great résumé and live in Southwest Virginia. She credits her long-time agent who submits her for roles.

"Many times I am the only one on the movie with an authentic accent, which is a plus being from the Southeast. It used to be difficult driving to auditions, but now I get the audition online and tape myself, e-mail it and then wait. Most of the time there are no callbacks. The main casting agency in Wilmington, N.C., The Finncannons, know me and know my work; and I think they help so much.

"I have submitted a few auditions lately, but it's been a while, and I probably didn't get them. It's the old "Don't call us, we'll call you' thing. I've learned to put it out of my head and go on with my busy life and if I get it, great, and if I don't, then it's ok."

Her life is so busy with her acting and her boutique, Forget-Me-Not, in Abingdon, Va., that she has stopped singing, songwriting and painting for the time being.

"I'll have to be truthful and a little bit ashamed to say that I am not still singing and writing songs and creating art. I can't tell you exactly why, except that there seems to be so little time for it. When I do have time, I like to walk in the woods or just sit around and listen to birds or look at clouds. I like my alone time. I did get myself a little banjo-ukelele that I want to learn to play. And I know I'm building up steam for a new series of paintings, except not in my usual style. Another excuse is that my shop takes up so much energy, creative and otherwise, that little is left for feelings of creativity.

"When I get home I just want to be still. I've become a bit of a hermit. I know that in solitude and stillness is where the muse lives. There's so much noise in the world, and there's so much stuff in the world. I'm feeling it's time for me to just shut up and quit with the putting out of more stuff. I think other people should express themselves through music and art, of course. I'm just feeling overwhelmed with "stuff' and am taking a break.

"Also, I never considered myself a true musician or singer. I practiced and worked hard to be one for a while but I'm not eaten up with it like real musicians are. A real musician would never be able to just walk away and leave it, just like that. Would they?"

Her feelings about solitude and noise in the world translate to her feelings about celebrity and the film industry.

"There's this idea that elevates celebrity and at the same time discounts it. Everybody is in awe of a movie star, but if they have political views or social concerns, somehow that becomes lessened by their celebrity.

"At the same time I'm not impressed with celebrities. I admire the hard work, incredible work that it takes to do a lead role, several lead roles a year. But just because they've been in a movie or TV then they become something larger than life. Actors are only one part of a production and without the crew, nothing would happen. I'm more of an admirer of directors these days.

"Also, be aware of how what you see on screen or in any medium affects you and society. I'm weary of violence. The film industry has enormous potential to affect societal views and norms. Be careful what you feed your head."




Robin Mullins in "Safe Haven."


Robin Mullins on the set of "Rectify"