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John Womack Jr., professor of History, is an expert on Latin America and head tutor of the History Department.
He is also a movie actor--sort of.
Womack's image will move across the silver screen tonight at the Central Square Cinema, when he makes a cameo appearance in the popular 1974 film "Badlands," starring Sissy Spacek, Martin Sheen and Warren Oates.
The film is based on the famous Starkweather murders, in which Charles Starkweather and his young girlfriend Caril Fugate went on a shooting spree that resulted in ten deaths in several Western states.
Womack plays a state trooper who picks up Starkweather (called Carruthers in the movie) after local authorities have captured the fugitive. He has three lines: "Now we go," which he says to Carruthers as they board an airplane; "State," in answer to a question about where he got his hat; and "You're quite an individual, Kit," as they sit down on the plane.
With that, the film ends.
Womack, who had no previous acting experience, said this week he got the part because of his close friendship with director Terrence Malick. "Badlands" was Malick's first and most successful commercial film.
The week he spent on the La Junta, Colo., set in 1972 was one of "extraordinary hard work" Womack said, adding that the two scenes in which he appeared required up to ten takes each. The filmm akersprovided transportation from Cambridge, but paid him nothing.
Womack has not acted since then, but said he would very much like to be in more movies.
The film, which won critical acclaim for its chillingly detached view of the 1950s, will play at 6 and 9:45 p.m.
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