William Mark McCullough is: Southern Made
Local Savannian, William Mark McCullough, talks about his experiences on set working across from Tom Cruise in his newest feature film, American made. This could be the film that launches this southern badboy into stardom.
William Mark McCullough has been on the tipping point of fame for years. The actor has played several roles throughout his career. The most recent, notable film he starred in is American Made, about one of the biggest CIA operations in U.S. history, involving the Medellin cartel. Directed by Doug Liman, McCullough also got some film time with the leading star, Tom Cruise.
McCullough said he did about ten auditions for various roles in the film and received two callbacks.
“A week or two later I get a call from my agent saying I’ve been pinned for the movie, which means they liked me but they haven’t hired me yet,” McCullough explained. “I asked her what role it was for and she said ‘They don’t have one, they just said they like you.’”
So eventually, the production company hires McCullough even though they had to create a role for him. They create the role, and McCullough is told to be in Atlanta.
“They sent me the script the night before, and I saw that I had four scenes in the movie, one scene with Tom Cruise and three smaller ones,” McCullough said. “I was thrilled. I was supposed to work for one week. But by the time it was done, I shot around 22 scenes and I worked for eight weeks.”
McCullough’s role continued to grow larger as they added more and more scenes for him. He played the role of one of the snowbirds, Pete Duboix, who is an old friend of Cruise’s character, Barry, and flew with him on a few of the cargo operations. Look for McCullough when Barry introduces the snowbirds in the film.
After a little over three weeks of shooting, McCullough was done with his scenes. He explained that when a group of actors on set had a final day, the production team would do a “clap out” and clap for those who made it through all of their scenes.
“[TOM CRUISE] LOOKS OVER AND SAYS ‘PEOPLE ARE GOING TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE AFTER THIS FILM.’”
“The producer, director, assistant director, and Tom Cruise were all there,” McCullough said. “They began to clap me out, but Cruise looked over and said, ‘Mark’s not done. I need Mark in Columbia.’”
According to McCullough, the producer said, “We can shoot whatever we need in front of these pine trees or something, but we are not taking him to Columbia.” So Cruise started arguing with him. Finally, the producer pulled McCullough aside and told him that there was no reason to send him to Columbia because he didn’t have any more scenes with Cruise. So McCullough went back home to Savannah.
“Then I get a call from the production manager who said, ‘Hey, pack your bags. We don’t have any scenes for you but Tom Cruise said he’s not going to Columbia unless you’re going to Columbia,’” McCullough said. “Two days later I’m on a plane to Medellin, and by the time I leave there I shot nine more scenes.”
McCullough explained that on set, the entire production was fast-paced with lines changing at any moment so he had to be extremely flexible during filming. However, McCullough said working with Cruise was one of the greatest experiences of his life.
“Tom Cruise came up to me when we were in Columbia after shooting in a plane together all day long – like twelve hours in this plane,” McCullough said. “He looks over and says, ‘People are going to know who you are after this film.’ Whether that’s true or not, for him to take the time to say that meant a lot. I have nothing but nice things to say about Tom. If anybody deserves success, it’s him.”
McCullough said when it was time for him to leave he gave everyone a hug goodbye. The assistant director leaned in and said, “I’m sure we’ll be seeing you again.” Sure enough, they called him back for two more weeks of shooting in New Orleans.
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