CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Friends and family of a Union native thoroughly enjoyed seeing him on the big screen — and in person — during a recent film festival.
Those who know Union native and current Venice Beach, Ca. resident David Thomas Jenkins have enjoyed following his acting career and seeing him in such roles as a painter in a popular Coors Light commercial, a bully in a Pepsi Max commercial which gained popularity during the Super Bowl in 2011, a degenerate band member in CMT sitcom “Working Class,” and the role of Lance Henriksen in the film “Beautiful Wave.”
None of those roles, however, left viewers as breathless as Jenkins’ portrayal of Hans Poley in the film “Return to the Hiding Place,” which was featured as the closing selection of the Projecting Hope Film Festival on March 10 in Charlotte.
The film is summarized in a description on its Facebook page:
“When resistance fighter Piet Hartog witnesses atrocities toward the Jews, he is drawn by his beautiful love Aty and her Aunt Corrie into the web of espionage and clandestine activities in the Hiding Place, where he joins brilliant young physics student and resistance journalist, Hans Poley (played by Jenkins), embarking on a nonstop, action-packed hunt through underground tunnels, Gestapo hijacks, daring rescues, codes in windswept old windmills, and stunning miracles in one of history’s most famous dramas. Piet, Hans, and their friends navigate a deadly labyrinth of challenges to rescue God’s people in their modern-day panicked exodus from death. Climaxing in the true, breath-taking rescue of an entire orphanage of Jewish children marked for mass execution by Hitler’s assassins, audiences will both cheer and weep at this exciting, sobering tale.”
Jenkins said this is his biggest role to date, in terms of both size and effort.
The film was based on Poley’s real-life experiences which were documented in his book, also titled “Return to the Hiding Place.”
“His book is told from his perspective, so it’s his account of all of the events and the trials he went through at that time,” Jenkins said.
Although most of the film was shot at a Dutch settlement in Michigan, some scenes were filmed in the Netherlands at the actual hiding place referred to in the title. Jenkins said he believes that alone added gravity to the film as well as his role.
The film’s producer was a friend of the real-life Hans Poley, and he told Jenkins that there were several similarities between the two in the way of look and mannerisms. The film is currently being shown at various film festivals, and one of those was the Projecting Hope Film Festival in Charlotte, for which “Return to the Hiding Place” was the closing selection. Jenkins and another actor from the film — Gary Moore — attended the festival, which gave Jenkins’ family and friends an opportunity to visit with him while watching him perform on the big screen.
“The movie itself was incredible,” said Jenkins’ mother, Nanette. “It was extremely suspenseful, and it was a war movie, so some of it was hard to watch. Erin (her daughter) and I were crying the whole time. Everybody was so proud and excited that the film was such a good film. It was riveting.”
“The whole family had strong Christian faith to risk their lives to save those people,” she added. “It makes you wonder today if any of us would be that strong.”
Of course, Nanette was more than proud of her son, and she said she knows he feels blessed — as does she — to have had the opportunity to be part of the film.
Jenkins — a 1998 graduate of Union High School — was an actor even during high school, and his high school drama teacher — Ralph Lawson — was also in attendance at the festival.
“My family and I enjoyed the movie very much, and I personally thought David did a wonderful job in it,” Lawson said.
Lawson pointed out that Jenkins spoke with a Dutch accent throughout the movie.
“I asked if he had a dialect coach and he said no,” Lawson said. “He listened to friends who were Dutch and listened to films of the real-life Hans to get the accent. I was impressed that he did so much work on his own to get the vocal part.”
“I’m very proud of David,” Lawson added. “He’s really worked hard at making it as a performer, and he’s been able to make a career out of it. It’s nice when you see someone you taught do that. He deserves all the success he has attained so far.”
Jenkins has a role in the film “Legendary Tomb of the Dragon,” which is still in production. He is also venturing into the production end of other upcoming projects.
Keep up with the career of David Thomas Jenkins by visiting www.davidthomasjenkins.com.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.