All the Pretty Horses

All the Pretty Horses

by Cheryl McMullen May 07, 2018

We were fans of Billy Bob Thorton.


We loved him in "Sling Blade", so when this gal named "Carla Curry" called and said she was the set dresser for an upcoming Billy Bob Thorton movie, she had our full attention. The movie was "All The Pretty Horses" based on Cormac McCarthy's novel of the same name. It was a coming of age movie set in the 1940s that told the story of two young Texas cowboys (Matt Damon & Henry Thomas) who head to Mexico in search of work. Instead, they find trouble with the law and one of them falls in love with a rich rancher's daughter. (Penelope Cruz)

Carla was a set decorator. She explained she was responsible for everything on the set - everything that helped to support the storyline and characters in the script. Carpets, rugs, drapes, furniture, knick-knacks, exterior elements, - everything excluding props. Props she explained were elements that are handled or touched by the actor and are provided by the prop-master.

Carla was familiar with Double D Ranch's Home Collection and was looking for bedding for a particular scene. She wanted a vintage looking bedding group for a love scene with Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz. Yes, we about to wet our pants at this point - she had us at "Billy Bob Thorton," but the mention of Matt Damon sealed the deal. We invited her to Yoakum and gave her free reign of the fabric and shipping room.

So Carla came down and made her selections. We were thrilled to provide some bedding and dec pillows for her movie project, but more excited about this new friendship with her. She fit right in. Super funny - even more talented, and most of all, laid back like it was no big deal. We immediately adopted her as our fourth sister.

About a month later we got a call. It was Carla. ATPH was shooting in San Antonio in a warehouse and on a ranch on the outskirts of town. She wanted to know if we wanted to come to the set for a field trip and see our bedding.
--- duh? When and Where!

The next day, we piled into Audrey's Suburban and headed to downtown San Antonio. Inside a warehouse, Carla re-created a ranch bunkhouse and a Mexican hotel room. Seriously - there was a bunkhouse, totally tricked out with a dirt floor and all. If you didn't know you were in a warehouse, you would swear you were on the King Ranch or something. Same with the hotel room - totally tricked out with Double D Ranch bedding, but missing one side wall to make room for the cameras.



From there, she invited us out to the ranch where they were filming that afternoon. We could see the set and if we were lucky, see some of the filming.
Again, ---duh?!

To this day, I do not know where this ranch was, but it was just outside of town. A beautiful Spanish hacienda - rugged and romantic with stucco walls and a Spanish tiled roof. The verandas wrapped around a central courtyard with bougainvilleas dripping from the ironwork and a bubbling Spanish fountain set smack in the middle. It was like a movie or something - oh wait, it WAS a movie!

Carla showed us around. She took us to the barn that was erected just for the movie. It was temporary she said and would be removed after filming was complete. The coral was the same. She had them paint the hacienda a dirty mustard color and mentioned that when filming was finished, it would be repainted back to its original white stucco.

We walked back into the courtyard and Mother was gushing on and on about the flowers and Audrey and Hedy were on the hunt for Billy Bob. We were trying to whisper and be quiet because we could tell that filming was about to start. That's when I noticed that not everything was what it seemed. The bubbling fountain I tried to rest my behind on was just an elaborately carved styrofoam ring. The bougainvilleas Mom was gushing over were from Hobby Lobby, the moss on the tile roof was some furry goop Carla had her guys spray on. All of it just crazy but I could totally see how the camera would read it all as perfect and beautiful.

As we tip-toed and whispered through the courtyard, we could tell the crew was setting up a scene inside the hacienda. Since we were Carla's guests, I felt funny about intruding and didn't want to get in the way of anything. I had seen what I had come to see and was ready to get back on the road. I can't say the same for Hedy and Audrey - they were star-struck and looking for Billy Bob! As I was herding them through the courtyard toward the gate, we heard a bullhorn blast, "WAIT"! Ugh, dang it, we hadn't left in time and were caught making too much noise. Here came the guy. Striding huge steps toward us ready to reprimand Carla and her guests for being too loud.

As he approached, I realized it was Billy Bob Thorton. All I could think of was, "Oh great; we are fix'n to get our asses reamed by the director right here and now!"

"STOP," he said, and we all froze. Even Mother didn't move.
BBT: "Hey, where are you all going?"
Me to myself: "what?!"
Carla (cool and laid back): "We are just headed out."
BBT: "Why are y'all leaving? Stay and join us for lunch. We will be through with this scene in just a second, and you can join us at the craft trailer."
Me to myself: "what the hell, - did Billy Bob Thorton just invite us to lunch?!"

Seriously, he did, but we didn't. We told him thank you and said we would settle for a group pic which he agreeably got in the middle of.


It was a moment to remember - how could it get any better than this?
1. invited to visit a movie set,
2. getting to have your bedding in a love scene where Matt Damon cavorted in the hay with Penelope Cruz,
3. and getting to meet the director himself, Billy Bob Thorton!



Well, Carla had one little more surprise for me. She took me to the wardrobe trailer. OMG, y'all - kid in a candy store! There in a long cargo trailer was the wardrobe and costumer for the movie. Everything was lined up and organized by scene. Each item was tagged with character, change, and scene number. Multiples of the same shirt, in various degrees of dirt and sweat, hung on the racks. I was amazed at how it all worked. As I fingered the racks of clothes, hats, and boots, I stopped at a serape.

Me: "What is this for?"
Me to myself: "Did I really just ask that?!"
Costumer: "Oh, it's for when Grady crosses the Rio Grand."
Costumer: "Why, is it not right?"
Me: "Actually, I think it is too new. It needs to be more of a homespun with vegetal dyes - earlier than these here."
Me to myself: "Did I really just tell this Hollywood costumer that his serape wasn't right?"
Yes, I did.
Catching myself, I offered, "Actually, we have some homespun ponchos that I could lend you for the movie. I think they would work perfectly with everything else you have going here."

Oh yes, I did. I said it. Audrey and Hedy were already mad at me for not letting them lunch with Billy Bob, and now I had gone and pissed off the costumer. Instead of ushering my smart ass out of the trailer, we struck up a conversation, and before you know it, I was sending him a box of ponchos as well as some of our early bandanas.

Nice guy.

So, as it turned out, Billy Bob finished his movie. Matt Damon slept in our sheets, sported one of our early bandanas, and wore my favorite poncho in a shoot-out scene.
It was all good, but best of all was the friendship we made with Carla. To this day, we are the best of friends...and to me, that's better than lunch with Billy Bob any day.

 

Matt Damon as John Grady wearing our homespun poncho

Matt Damon as John Grady in a bandana from our collection

Our treasures from the movie: a Peruvian poncho and bandana with costuming tag




Cheryl McMullen
Cheryl McMullen

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