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USA Radio

John Lee Hancock’s Distinct Geographic Regions of Texas

By Kate Donnelly

The Lone Star State of Texas is the second largest in America with a soaring population of close to 27 million. It’s also home to John Lee Hancock, director of the Oscar nominated The Blind Side and Saving Mr. Banks, who grew up in the small Gulf Coast town of Longview, Texas.

From an early age, Hancock loved reading and storytelling. Years later in Houston, Hancock attended law school, took acting classes and wrote screenplays. He made an artistic leap and drove to Los Angeles, California where his non-commissioned “spec” script, A Perfect World, was picked up. The film starred the legendary Clint Eastwood and Kevin Costner and told the story of an 8-year-old Jehovah's Witness abducted by an escaped convict in early 1960s Texas.

A proud Texan, Hancock says the state has always played a big role in his life. “If you're fortunate enough to be born in Texas, and are Texan, then it's something that truly is in your DNA.” Growing up, Hancock loved American football, which he lovingly calls a “religion” in Texas. His brother and father both played at the famed University of Texas stadium, a magnificent field where a roaring crowd of 100,000-plus ceremoniously gathers. This appreciation for football helped him capture his Oscar-nominated sports drama, The Blind Side.

Hancock loves to shoot in Texas, due, in part, to its distinct geographic regions from the big cultural cities of Houston, Dallas and Austin to eastern Texas’ dense timberland, desert regions, mountainous terrain, and part of the panhandle, a region that Hancock likens to the Kansas flatlands. Elsewhere, the Gulf Coast Plains yield salt marshes, fishing and estuaries (where fresh and saltwater meet), and West Texas charms with its beautiful high desert, artist colony of Marfa and the wild burrows of Big Bend National Park. It is one of the many reasons he loves to shoot here.

It’s easy to see why Hancock loves filming in Texas, especially studying his wide shots in his 2002 film, The Rookie, showcasing stunning vistas. He jokes, “That was Texas putting its arms around us and saying, "Let's do it my way boys."

For more information, visit Our Texas Guide.

Take our quiz to find out which director's city suits you best.

Director: John Lee Hancock

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Famous Movies: Saving Mr. Banks, The Blind Side, The Rookie

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