“Green Book” Co-Producer J.B. Rogers Talks Academy Awards & Calling Broad Ripple Home

Writer / Pat Carlini

Photography Provided

It’s been said that every good story has a Hoosier connection.

That seems to be the case as well with this year’s Academy Award-winning film “Green Book” who’s assistant director and co-producer is long-time Broad Ripple resident, J.B. Rogers.

The Park Tudor Alum worked with Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga and Brian Hayes Currie on the movie, a true story about an African American pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and Italian-American driver Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) who accompanied Shirley on a concert tour of the American South in the 1960s.

Green Book became a surprise Oscar contender last fall after winning the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival. The movie then won a Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay. Green Book was then up for five Oscars and won three — Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Ali and Best Original Screenplay.

Rogers was in town recently in between production schedules and had a moment for coffee at his wife’s popular hot spot — The Cake Bake Shop in Broad Ripple.

“She’s done a great job,” he says of his wife. “I knew it would go well, but, this has exploded into something great. She is way more famous than me.”

Rogers had planned to go to law school but never left California and his love for movies. That was in the 80s. It was there he saw a sign saying that read “intern needed for New World Pictures” and he was excited to apply. He got the internship and eventually got to work on movies such as The Burbs (1989), with Tom Hanks. He recalls a funny conversation with the actor when he thinks back about getting his start in movie production.

“Tom Hanks said to me, hey can you get me a grape soda,” recalls Rogers with a chuckle. “When I handed it to him, he said, aren’t you happy you went to college?”

I laugh about it now but I knew then that I wanted to do even more with movies.

Eventually, he was able to help direct movies, write some scripts and even do a little acting.

“It was actually the best school I could’ve ever had,” Rogers says.

It was also in the 80s when Rogers met Gwendolyn on a movie set in California where Gwendolyn — whose dream was initially to work in film casting — was working as a male modeling agent.

The two started dating in 1989 and they were married in 1995.

The couple moved to Sun Valley, Idaho where Rogers went on to do a lot of movie work with Peter and Bobby Farrelly and eventually got to work as assistant director on hits such as There’s Something about Mary (1998) and American Pie (1999). The couple had three boys before deciding to return to Indiana and once again head to Broad Ripple and send the kids to Park Tudor.

The boys (the fourth generation to attend Park Tudor) 22 –year-old  Baxter, who hopes to be a theme park designer, 19- year-old Weston, who wants to study aviation at Purdue and 16 -year- old Drake.

The couples’ Hollywood connections remained strong over the years and when Rogers worked as producer and assistant director for the “Dumb and Dumber” sequel, “Dumb and Dumber To” filmmakers Peter and Bobby – invited Gwendolyn to makes cupcakes for several scenes in the movie. In the first scene — a dream sequence — Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) grabs some cupcakes from a platter and after taking a few bites, flings them across the room in a ninja fight scene.

Rogers has worked on “My All-American” 2015 and “Hall Pass” in 2011 as well.

Rogers latest work is with “Loudermilk” which stars Ron Livingston of Sex in the City and Office Space.

When Rogers is home for a few days at a time, he tries to help out with the Cake Bake Shop and spend time with his family. They still enjoy all that Broad Ripple has to offer.

Then, it is time for him to hit the road for work again.

“There’s just not many movies being made here in Indiana,” Rogers says with a grin. “ But maybe someday!”