Little Miss Sunshine's Greg Kinnear loves walking with the ghosts in Savannah. His dog? Not so much.
Greg Kinnear found Savannah, that legendary Georgia city spared by General William Sherman and later immortalized in a novel, like most people find Savannah: by chance and good luck.
Kinnear and his wife were driving a rental car down to visit friends in a small Georgia town, and they had a week or two to spare. "We just went on a crazy sort of Southern road trip," he says. "And we made it through Savannah and a few other cities. That's really when I first kind of started digging Georgia in general."
He fell particularly hard for Savannah. Already rich in history, the coastal city became a global tourist destination with the publication in 1994 of John Berendt's best-selling book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil; tourism increased 46 percent and spun off Midnight tours, a movie, and more. Kinnear really got to know Savannah six years ago, while he was in town filming The Gift, and marveled at the city's beauty, spirit, and lore.
This month, the actor, who lives in Los Angeles, is a member of the ensemble cast of Little Miss Sunshine, which follows the six-member Hoover family as they trek from their home in Albuquerque to enter seven-year-old Olive in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in Redondo Beach, California. Here's the real-life trek Greg Kinnear took that led him through the most original city in the South.
So tell me what you discovered in Savannah. Well, it has incredible history to it. And you feel that the moment you get there, particularly in the downtown area. You know, it was sort of where the old Georgia colony was established. Everything today that's downtown Savannah is sort of an offshoot of its design when the first settlers started to colonize it. This guy, General James Oglethorpe, designed it all, and there are all sorts of Oglethorpian references - monuments, streets, Oglethorpe burgers. I don't know if there's an Oglethorpe burger, but there's a lot of that kind of imagery of this guy. He was the designer, the lead guy, when they established the town. He created that thing where they would start with a park and then build out from there. Today, there are more than 20 of those parks all over the city.
The squares of Savannah, right? And most famous is Monterey Square, home of the late Jim Williams, the main character of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. In the book, Berendt described Monterey Square as "the most elegant of Savannah's many tree-lined squares." Monterey Square is probably the most famous. There's Forsyth Park, but that's a different thing. That's sort of like, you know, Central Park for Savannahians, if there is such a term. That's really cool, and it's kind of the focal point of downtown. But branching out from all that are these little squares. Everything grows beautifully down there. But they pay for it in the summer, when it's 100 degrees with heavy humidity.