Actor from Valley Has a Role in Oscar-nominated Film

POLAND, Ohio – A Mahoning Valley man has a role in a film that has been nominated for an Academy Award.

Jeff Hochendoner of Poland has a small part in “Rustin.” The film’s star, Colman Domingo, has been nominated for Best Actor for his portrayal of Bayard Rustin.

The movie, directed by George C. Wolfe (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), was shot in Pittsburgh and is streaming on Netflix.

It tells the true story of Rustin, a civil rights activist who orchestrated the 1963 March on Washington. Rustin faced racism and homophobia in his battle.

Hochendoner is in only one scene in the movie, but he interacts directly with Domingo in it. He plays a highway patrolman who pulls over a bus on which Rustin is traveling and tells Rustin to move to the back of the bus. When Rustin refuses, he drags him off the bus and beats him.

Hochendoner describes it as a short but memorable scene. “It’s the only scene in the movie that is filmed in black and white, because it is a flashback,” he said.

Colman Domingo in a scene from “Rustin.” (Netflix)

He described Domingo as an excellent actor who was great to work with.

The Academy Awards ceremony will take place March 10 and will be aired live on ABC starting at 7 p.m. Hochendoner will not attend the event in Hollywood.

“Rustin” is not the first movie he appeared in that garnered an Oscar nomination. Hochendoner played a train dispatcher in the 2010 hit “Unstoppable,” starring Denzel Washington. That film, about a runaway freight train, was filmed in western Pennsylvania. It was nominated for Best Achievement in Sound Editing.

Still, his appearance in “Rustin” feels special.

“This is the first time I was in a movie with a Best Actor nominee – and I’m in a scene with him,” he said.

Hochendoner has a long résumé of small roles in major films that were shot in Pittsburgh.

The 59-year-old recently moved back to Poland after living in Wyoming for about a decade. Before moving, he appeared in “I Am Number 4,” (2011), “My Bloody Valentine” (2009) and “The Next Three Days” (2010), all of which were shot in Pittsburgh.

Since his return, he has appeared in “A Man Called Otto” (2022), which was shot in western Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Hochendoner has also been in the television series “A League of Their Own” (Amazon Prime Video, 2022) and “American Rust” (Showtime, 2021).

Looking ahead, Hochendoner will be seen in “The Deliverance,” a horror movie directed by Lee Daniels (“The Butler“) and starring Glenn Close, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor and Omar Epps.

The film is about a family whose home could be a portal to hell.

Hochendoner’s scene was shot in an industrial area in Pittsburgh in August 2022. It will be released on Netflix, but the exact date has not yet been determined.

Pictured at top: Jeff Hochendoner of Poland appears in a scene from the Netflix film “Rustin.”

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