Movie News & Reviews

This NC woman’s bar is one of the biggest stars in Oscar-winning ‘Three Billboards’

Terri L. Dolan’s bar, the Town Pump Tavern in Black Mountain, was the site of several scenes in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
Terri L. Dolan’s bar, the Town Pump Tavern in Black Mountain, was the site of several scenes in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Fox Searchlight via AP

When Frances McDormand took the stage at the Academy Awards on Sunday, she used the opportunity to share the honor with all the women in the audience.

McDormand, who had just won the Oscar for best actress for her role in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” called on all women nominated for an award that night to stand during her speech, while advocating for more inclusion in Hollywood.

“We all have stories to tell, and projects we need financed,” she said to the crowd.

Her words resonated with viewers everywhere, including in Asheville, where Charlotte native Terri Dolan was watching.

“Frances McDormand is a very special lady who cares very little about what other people think, and I thought it was wonderful that she took the time to make her opinions very well known,” said Dolan, who has a special connection to the movie.

That’s because she is a business owner whose bar, the Town Pump Tavern, was featured in multiple scenes in “Three Billboards.”

Town Pump, a small dive bar where regular tourists to Black Mountain go for live music, was one of multiple sites in Western North Carolina where “Three Billboards” filmed in spring 2016.

APTOPIX 90th Academy Awards - Show
Frances McDormand accepts the award for best performance by an actress in a leading role for "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" at the Oscars on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Chris Pizzello Invision/AP

It was the second time the tavern was the site of a movie set, Dolan said. Scenes from the 2015 film “The World Made Straight” were also shot at the bar.

But Dolan had no idea “Three Billboards” would explode into the critically acclaimed, award-winning film it is today.

The business was closed for three days for production, and during that time, crews added booths and a pool table to the tavern. In the final version, the tavern’s main sign was on full display for viewers to see.

“We thought that the bar looked really great in the film,” Dolan said, noting the Town Pump’s “timeless” feel was captured well.

Adding to the honor of the bar being featured in the film was McDormand’s acceptance speech at the Oscars. Dolan entered the bar-owning business more than a decade ago and said she’s no stranger to the issues highlighted by the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements in Hollywood.

Being a business owner who is a woman presents its own set of challenges, she said – especially in a bar, where she can often be asked invasive or inappropriate questions.

The recent movements highlighting sexism have been beneficial in opening up dialogue for everyday women, she said.

“Really, the majority of women in this country who are dealing with discrimination and assault are (everyday) women. They’re bartenders, they’re waitresses, they are maids in hotels, and Hollywood is aware of that.” she said. “They seem to be doing an excellent job on speaking up on all women’s behalf, and that should be commended, in my opinion.”

LaVendrick Smith: @LaVendrickS