Bennett Dunn’s turn as a legendary singer has drawn rave reviews. But have you heard him play the bagpipes?
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Bennett Dunn keeps four pairs of horn-rimmed glasses locked and loaded. A few black bow ties are kept on standby, too.
For the past eight years the Wilmington actor and musician has toured the country portraying rock ’n’ roll icon Buddy Holly.
First, there was the jukebox musical “The Buddy Holly Story,” which toured for 10 months. Dunn donned the famous spectacles again in February for “The Night the Music Lived: A Live Musical Performance Tribute to Buddy Holly” at Media Theatre for the Performing Arts, a show that smashed the theater’s box office records. Encore performances are scheduled for August 20-22.
But Dunn, 32, is no simple look-alike. The theater veteran recently wrapped on some big-screen action in M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming film “The Last Airbender,” a live-action adaptation of the animated Nickelodeon series. Dunn plays a soldier for the warring Northern Water Tribe, a gig that involved a lot of choreographed martial arts.
“It is the most epic film that I’ve ever worked on. To even have a small part in it is an honor,” says Dunn, who describes the movie as a “Lord of the Rings”-style saga blended with the artful, high-end special effects of movies like “The Matrix” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
“The Last Airbender” comes out next summer. In the meantime, Dunn, who honed his acting and singing chops at Salesianum School, is trekking to Los Angeles for TV’s pilot season. He’s already appeared in episodes of CBS’s “CSI: Miami” and NBC’s “Crossing Jordan.”
His blend of talents—singing and playing the guitar, as well as bagpiping, rappelling, shooting and more—could make him quite the commodity.
If not, he still does a mean Buddy Holly. Holly’s widow, María Elena Holly, met Dunn just before a show in Fort Worth, Texas. “She looked me up and down and said, ‘You’re better looking than Buddy Holly,’” Dunn says. A hug from the widow Holly followed, as well as a quick pat on the backside. —Matt Amis
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