Mollie B Lands Singing & Acting Parts in ‘The Mule’

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Rob Westerlund
Local favorite, musician Mollie B, recently appeared in the Clint Eastwood movie, "The Mule."

WISCONSIN–Many people dream of acting in a Hollywood film is, and for Mollie B, a Cross Plains’ favorite, her dream come true.

In March of 2018, Mollie B and her band were asked to be in “The Mule,” a Warner Bros. film directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, to be released in December of 2018. Mollie B, a frequent visitor to Cross Plains, led a music workshop last November for the students at Park Elementary and then provided a polka party for the school to raise funds for special needs programs. Mollie B tours the country leading polka parties with the Jim Busta Band and SqueezeBox.

After returning from a performance, Mollie B had voicemail messages from a number in California. It turned out, it was Hollywood calling.

Mollie said, “Mr. Eastwood watches the Mollie B Polka Party on TV, and according to the folks at Warner Brothers studios, ‘He is a Mollie B fan.’ Mr. Eastwood wanted to know if I would be in his upcoming movie as ‘Mollie B’ along with my band. The scene was a grand re-opening of a VFW with Clint Eastwood’s character. Not only would I get to sing and play in this scene, Ted Lange and I had the opportunity to submit original songs for the polka band to play in this movie scene. 

“The scene was shot in Atlanta with several polka people on set including the band SqueezeBox, several Mollie B fans, including my parents, and a few extras. While on set, my personal role was extended from playing and singing to also dancing with Clint Eastwood. Ted and I attended the premiere in Westwood, California. The movie was released on December 14. Our one-minute, 40-seconds scene, is about 40 minutes into the movie.”

Mollie wasn’t the only polka fan on screen. “Warner Brothers wanted legit ‘Mollie B fans’ to be the dancers in the scene.” Mollie reached out to her fans, inviting them to be in the movie. “Within a week, I believe WB had received several applications and by the end of May, dancers were receiving confirmation e-mails giving them details about the filming in the Atlanta area. It was exciting to know we would get to share this experience with so many ‘Mollie B’ fans and friends.”

Locally, Mollie B. fans raved about the movie. “I saw it four times,” said Rodney "Peanuts" Esser, head custodian at Park Elementary, and one of Mollie B’s biggest fans. Mr. Peanuts, as he’s called by students at the school, shared his story about how a hundred friends of Mollie B had been invited to be extras in the movie, and that he had known most of them, and was thrilled to see them on the silver screen. “They were shooting during the last week of school, and, of course, I couldn’t make it,” Esser said.

And what was it like for Mollie working with a major Hollywood star and director?  “Well, since I’ve only done television, I have nothing to compare it to. He lets the artist do their thing. He lets you play your role, and I played, obviously, Mollie B. And things changed. He said, ‘I want Mollie B to dance with me.’ It’s a polka party. Everybody’s having a good time. I will dance, if at a private party, with the honored person, so it was very real.” 

In the movie, Mollie B jumps off stage to dance with Eastwood’s character, who is the ‘man of honor’ that night for providing the funds to re-open the VFW after a fire. In real life, it was Mr. Peanuts who was once the man of honor. “We were at Maggie May’s barn dance in Oxford, celebrating 50 years at Park Elementary, and she sang three songs, and she came off the stage, and she walked up to me, that was our first time we met, and I said, “I gotta be honest with you. I know nothing about dancing. From then we just kept on moving on. I worked on shows with her in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois.”

The polka scene was shot in one day after many takes.  “We did the whole scene maybe eight or 10 times, and then he changed it, and then we did it that way multiple times,” Mollie said.

Mollie had to join the Screen Actors Guild, SAG, in order to have lines or to sing in the union production. Even though it was work, it was still a party. “We really were able to have a true polka party. People are together, they’re happy, they’re dancing the polka, the band was playing well, and there was such a good feel and the crew picked up on that. They had so much fun with us.  Every happy smile you saw in the film was just genuine.”

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