ATLANTA --Parental Guidance,one of thefilms opening on Christmas Day, was filmed in metro-Atlanta.
While Billy Crystal and Bette Midlergrab top billing, a local character actorplays a memorable and funny role in the new feature film which was inspired by Crystal's own experiences as a grandparent.
In the comedy, a Dunwoody home, Piedmont Park and Ocee Park in Johns Creekplay starring roles.
Another Atlanta highlight among Hollywood heavyweights Bette Midler and Billy Crystal isRhoda Griffis of Vinings, who plays a perfectionist violin teacher.
Griffis, a North Carolina native has called Atlanta home for 20 years. Past the first round of auditions, but before landing the part, the director offered Griffis advice on the character shemightplay in the feature film.
"'I'd like her to be Eastern European. Old old Eastern European,' the director explained to Griffis. "AndI was like OK. I hung up, going 'What in the world?'So, I got on YouTube and looking. I hadno idea what that accent was."
Griffis studied quickly to master the accent and persona. She also had a week and a half to become a convincing violin teacher.
That's where Anne Page, the Orchestra Director at the Lovett School came in.
"I've never been asked this. I've played a long long time," Page said while beaming.
The violin teacher crammed her52 years of training into a45-minute crash course for Griffis.
"She wanted to look like a violin teacher who was angry and mean. Full of rage," Page said.
Griffis also had to graspthe basics in orderto be a convincingviolin teacher in the feature film.
"Number one you never touch the varnish," Page said. "You have to hold it at the neck."
Griffislanded the role. One of herfavorite moments on set wasworking with the Divine Miss M, Bette Midler.
"Something Bette Midler does in one of the scenes, where she's telling me off, she totally came up with that," Griffis explained. "She did it twice and came up with different jokes and the one they used is flawless. That's her. That wasn't written."
Acting in theatre since the age of seven, more recently, you may have seen her workin Hunger Games, Walk the Line, and The Blind Side.
"I'm one of Sandra Bullock's friends at the table. She wasalways having lunch. We're very opinionated."
She also played the General's vixen wife, Lenore Baker,in theLifetime TV seriesArmy Wives.
"I was a very misunderstood character," Griffis said.
Griffis has appeared in more than 30 features films and 33 TV series. She does a lot of voice over work and just wrapped a commercial for Wendy's. Due toGeorgia's aggressive tax incentive,Griffis is finding more andmore work in her hometown.
"There's so many wonderful projects shooting on our backyard," Griffis said."I think there's another good thing about people coming to Atlanta, we're not as botoxed and tightly pulled so we look real. Like real people."
Also real, her new film. Griffis says Parental Guidanceoffers a real, and really funny perspective on American families.
"This is just a feel good movie and I think it's really timely. We all need to just go to the theatre and laugh."