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The 30th anniversary of "Benny & Joon"

Don Hamilton, Ashley Graham, Leslie Laursen
E.J. Iannelli
Spokane Public Radio
Don Hamilton, Ashley Graham and Leslie Laursen (L–R) in the KPBX studio

Fans and former cast of the Spokane-based movie discuss July's citywide celebration

Ashley Graham, Don Hamilton and Leslie Laursen joined E.J. Iannelli in the KPBX studio to talk about the film Benny & Joon, which was filmed in Spokane and celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

Graham grew up in Spokane and recalls seeing the film at the Garland Theater when it debuted in 1993. She's been a fan ever since and is coordinating the citywide 30th anniversary celebration.

Hamilton and Laursen both had minor roles in the movie. Hamilton was cast as a UPS driver and recounted the story of how he competed with 4,000 hopeful actors to get the casting director's attention. Laursen played the admitting nurse in the psychiatric hospital. Among other things, she talked about the moment when she forgot her lines when she came face to face with the actor Aidan Quinn.

In addition to its local cast, Benny and Joon stars Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson. It also had early onscreen appearances by William H. Macy and Julianne Moore. As Graham mentioned during the interview, Spokane is more than just a backdrop to the film; it's practically a character in its own right.

Hamilton is creating a short film of interviews and anecdotes to commemorate the feature film's 30th anniversary. His short film will follow the screening of Benny & Joon at the Garland Theater on Saturday, July 15. There are additional exhibitions and tie-ins across the city throughout the month of July.

For more information about the various anniversary activities and festivities, visit the event page on Linktree.

E.J. Iannelli is Spokane Public Radio's Arts and Music Director