Newnan child in new movie 'We Bought A Zoo'

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Newnan resident Maggie Elizabeth Jones premieres this weekend as Rosie Mee, daughter of Matt Damon’s Benjamin Mee, in what is described as "an amazing and true story" in "We Bought A Zoo."

By JEFF BISHOP jbishop@newnan.com This has been a big year for wide-release movies and TV shows with local connections, and the holiday season is no different. This weekend brings the new Cameron Crowe film, "We Bought A Zoo." It wasn't filmed in Coweta County, like some key sequences from the fall film "Footloose," but it does carry over one very important local connection.
Newnan resident Maggie Elizabeth Jones, who was featured in a supporting role in "Footloose" alongside her sister Mary Charles Jones, premieres this weekend as Rosie Mee, daughter of Matt Damon's Benjamin Mee, in what is described as "an amazing and true story about a single dad who decides his family needs a fresh start, so he and his two children move to the most unlikely of places: a zoo." With the help of "an eclectic staff, and with many misadventures along the way, the family works to return the dilapidated zoo to its former wonder and glory," according to the movie's official website. Jones, who is a student at the Landmark Christian School, has grown up seeing her older sister on television, in roles as "Young Miley" in "Hannah Montana," as well as on the shows "October Road" and "Grey's Anatomy." After co-starring with her in "Footloose," now it's little sister's turn. "After seeing Mary Charles do it, she wanted to try," said her mother, Angie Jones. A nationwide search was conducted to fill the high-profile role, her mom said. "We just did a tape at our house and sent it in," said Jones. It wasn't too long after that that Maggie was flown out to Los Angeles to meet with director Cameron Crowe. "They met for an hour and that was it," she said. "It's usually not that easy. But she had done her first commercial when she was 4." Maggie is now 8 years old, and already quite the professional. According to her Internet Movie Database profile, "the young actress packs an explosive personality in her 3 foot, 10 inch frame." Maggie said that her favorite part of being in the film was "getting to work with all the animals." She especially enjoyed palling around with Crystal, a Capunchin monkey made famous in "The Hangover 2" and the "Night at the Museum" movies. "That monkey is probably more famous than anyone else in the movie," said Maggie's father, Jason Jones. "Crystal would get on my shoulder and hit on my head and we would eat and dance together and play," said Maggie. "She played a lot with that monkey," said her mom. "She had such a great time." She also got to work with "lions and tigers and peacocks," she said. "We were out in California for four months, filming, and she got to go out and work with animals every day." And then there's Matt Damon, of course. He couldn't hold a candle to Crystal the monkey, but he was pretty cool to work with, too, she said. "Matt Damon was wonderful," said Maggie's mom. "Since he has daughters who are close in age to Maggie, it made it easy for him to play the dad role. He and Maggie would joke around and talk to each other in British accents between takes. It was a lot of fun for everyone to bring their families to the set." "Matt would bring his family, so it was always a real family atmosphere," said Maggie's dad. "In fact, on one Saturday our family and Matt's family and Cameron Crowe all went to the Magic Castle, and another person from Newnan, Ken Scott, who's a magician, was performing there. It was really nice to know that even though these are big, Hollywood people that they can hang out with the rest of us. It was kind of neat." "He was very nice person to work with. I loved working with him," affirmed Maggie. Promoting the film has also been a lot of fun, she said. For instance, she got to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres talk show. "She gave me a big, giant stuffed monkey, and it was very cool," said Maggie. "And I was the first person ever to do a split on 'Ellen.'" Her father explained that she got excited when it was dance time on "Ellen," and decided to "do a full split," which impressed everyone. "They said that no one had ever done that on the show before," he said. Jason said that "We Bought A Zoo" is "a great family movie to go see during the holidays." "It's a great, great, great family movie," said Maggie. "I think people should go see it because it's a true story." The film opens today at Regal Georgian Stadium 14.


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