Big Stone Gap: The Place, The Novel, The Movie

by Casey Higgins | Posted: Sep 11, 2015

Comments: 9 Comments

Big Stone Gap is a place, first and foremost. It’s a sleepy little coal town in southwest Virginia. It’s also a book and now a major motion picture.

Big Stone Gap

Adriana Trigiani was born and raised in Big Stone Gap. She’s also the author of the book. Of crafting her novel into a film, then completing the circle to actually shoot it in her hometown, Trigiani said, “Filming the movie in my hometown during the fall brought up so many memories, the colors, the football games, the laughs, my brothers and sisters, my parents and friends, the great times- It conjured up so many happy memories. It was the perfect backdrop for the movie, and I feel that those good feelings made it on to the screen. The Wilson family, Patrick’s family, are from Big Stone Gap, his brother Paul also stars in the movie, so it was a homecoming for them too- the whole movie in fact, was a homecoming- and you can feel it.”




Ashley Judd stars as Ave Maria Mulligan, the self-proclaimed spinster of Big Stone Gap. Of her experiencing filming she said, “[T]he acting … was so glorious, just really fun, and it brought me back to that unfiltered joy of the creative process … [W]e had Tony winners, two Oscar winners, just an extraordinarily packed cast, and that’s what I would like to continue to do, is just really get into that stream of what a beautiful ride the acting can be.”

Patrick Wilson plays coal miner Jack MacChesney, but in addition, Wilson’s family is actually deeply rooted in Big Stone Gap. “Big Stone Gap will remain as one of the most personally successful and emotionally rewarding films of my career. Adri knew the only way to make this film true to its heart was to shoot it in Big Stone. Their support made it possible, and reflects exactly what Adri has been writing about for years: that the people of Big Stone are full of love, laughter and southern soul.”




In a part Trigiani specifically wrote for her, Whoopi Goldberg emerges as a sharp-witted, truth-spitting Fleeta Mullins. “Working on Big Stone Gap was a dream come true for so many reasons. I had a great time meeting the folks of BSG, an American mining town that, like so many towns in the USA, is not given the respect it should be given. I met teachers, former miners, and had some of the best Mexican food ever! None of it would have happened if not for Adri, and the town and the people of BSG.”

Jenna Elfman brings her comedic talent to life in character Iva Lou Wade, the bookmobile librarian. Elfman raved, “I loved my time in Big Stone Gap for three specific reasons: 1) The people of Big Stone Gap! So kind, enthusiastic and friendly. It was a refreshing change from living in Hollywood. 2) The movie. I loved my character, how she was written, the clothes I got to wear and working alongside my super-talented fellow actors. 3) Adriana Trigiani. I have never met a more charismatic, open, humorous, talented, vivacious and confident woman in my life. She is my new lifelong friend.”


Fleeta and Pearl. Photo by Antony Platt.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG as Fleeta and ERIKA COLEMAN as Pearl. Photo by Antony Platt.

Watch for John Benjamin Hickey. You’ll recognize him as the high school band director, Theodore Tipton. “Working on the film version of Big Stone Gap in the very town the movie is named after has been one of the great joys of my career. Everything about it—the great 70s clothes I got to wear (newfound appreciation for bell bottoms and polyester); the daily soup special at the Dari Delite; to the wonderful, wise and warm citizens of the area; to, most important, the author of this entire experience, our writer/director Adriana Trigiani—has been Big Stone fun every minute I was there.”

When you see Big Stone Gap, keep an eye peeled for these fine actors as well:

  • Anthony LaPaglia as Spec Broadwater
  • Jane Krakowski as Sweet Sue Tinsley
  • Judith Ivey as Nan MacChesney
  • Jasmine Guy as Leah Grimes
  • Chris Sarandon as Mario Barbari

Big Stone Gap opens in theaters October 9, 2015.

Join the town (and a number of the stars!) in a grand celebration on October 10.


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Avatar Kevin Miller says:

I used to be one of the UPS drivers that delivered Big Stone gap, Va. and Powell Valley for a coupe of years and have been over all of this town at one time or another and have even met the other drivers for lunch at Mutual Pharmacy several times in the past. Glad to see this getting it’s recognition and acclaim.

Avatar UAMovies says:

I would like to be the part of Big Stone Gap movie, because our hometown is on the big screen. Thanks for sharing with us.

Avatar Kenny Cooper (my BSG name) says:

Spent all my young life in BSG. Still go back when I can, lots of things have changed, but the heart of the town is still there.

Avatar Deana Stoddard says:

I’m so glad to see one of my sweet interns, Austin!

Avatar Kevin Miller says:

Glad to see Big Stone Gap getting it’s recognition. I was a UPS driver there for a few years and will enjoy watching this movie and visiting BSG again.

Thank you for sharing Big Stone Gap with the world.

Avatar Ruby Church says:

I am from Roanoke,when I read this book,it brought back a lot of memories.I also read Cherry Holler,and Milk Glass Moon,loved them all,I just hope this movie doesn’t disappoint.