As the scene of several damaging fights as well as a setting for opulence and debauchery, the Wild Cherry Casino presented the film's biggest design challenge. Filled with hundreds of extras, it boasts over a hundred working slot machines and thousands of lights...many of which wound up broken after Sheriff Vaughn swings his big stick.
Propmaster Dean Goodine created several versions of "The Stick" for The Rock to swing. In the film, Vaughn fashions his weapon from a piece of discarded lumber found in the back of his truck. He pares it down to a rounded club with a leather-covered handle for better battering. A full-sized wood version was created, as well as a rubber one for easy handling and safety.
The exteriors were just as important for director Bray, who used several British Columbian communities as stand-ins for Washington's town of "Ferguson." Much of the city streets, ferry scenes, and exteriors of the Wild Cherry Casino were shot in the picturesque city of Squamish, high in the mountains an hour north of Vancouver. Locations for the Vaughn house were found in the suburb of Surrey, south of Vancouver, while other scenes were filmed in surrounding communities such as Port Moody, White Rock, and Richmond.
Through the shooting experience, the theme of Walking Tall retained its clarity and prominence. The story of one man's ability to stand up for himself against deadly odds rang true with cast and filmmakers alike.
"Our central character succeeds on sheer heart," says director Bray. "He perseveres. I wanted to capture a reality in his story so that the audience can see an example of how one person can effect change."
Producer Schiff agrees: "As our world gets more complicated, people feel more isolated and powerless. It is a refreshing idea that you can have an impact if you take a stand. I think we all have a vision of what it means to 'walk tall' in our lives. And maybe this film can help someone walk taller than they normally would otherwise."
For The Rock, the central theme of Walking Tall is universal. "The title of this film exemplifies what I think every person feels at some point in their lives," says The Rock. "There are moments in life that define us. In Chris Vaughn, people can see one man making a difference. He's one man standing up in his own small way. It's a great story, and we really had the passion to do it justice."
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