Franklin man extra in ‘Lincoln’ movie

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Junius L. McClenny of Franklin wearing the beard and mustache he had to grow for his role as an extra in the movie, “Lincoln.” -- SUBMITTED

FRANKLIN—Knowing the skill of riding horses carried a Franklin man into film history.

Junius L. McClenny appears as a black cavalry rider for several seconds in director Steven Spielberg’s latest movie, “Lincoln,” which opened nationwide Friday.

“I’ve always had a horse,” said McClenny, 61, who grew up on a farm in Southampton County with a brother and three sisters.

His part in the movie began while working last summer in his salvage shop, Iron Undertakers. McClenny heard a Richmond radio station announce an urgent need for black riders to appear in the film.

“I’m not that busy,” he said about answering the call. But soon work put the thought out of his mind until he heard the request on the TV news.

“I called my sister, Rita, who said ‘I believe they are looking for riders.’ And she gave me the number to call, and it went from there,” said McClenny.

Rita McClenny was then head of the Virginia Film Commission. Gov. Bob McDonnell recently named her president and chief executive officer of Virginia Tourism Corp.

In late August through September, Junius McClenny was sent to a ranch in Ashland to see how well he could ride. After four minutes, the trainer told him he had the part.

“I had to grow a beard,” said the mustachioed McClenny, who added that he’s usually clean-shaven.

Though much of the film was made last October and November in Petersburg and Richmond, McClenny and many other extras went to Goochland County for their roles.

“There were people everywhere from all walks of life,” he said. “Some people came as far as Maryland, and others changed job shifts to be in the movie.”

They were on site early in the day for costumes and makeup.

Filming was often all day, said McClenny, who would be there for a month and a half, off and on.

He met lead actor Daniel Day-Lewis in the chow line, but didn’t fully recognize him.

“He asked a question about some food,” remembered McClenny.

Overall, “I kind of enjoyed doing it,” he said. “It’ll be something for my grandchildren. It’s amazing that I did get in the movie.”

With family members, including his wife and mother, they attended the preview for extras in Richmond two weeks ago.

“I really was not excited at first,” said McClenny. “But now — wow. I helped make history. It’s wonderful.”