Jay Leggett is Tomahawk's hometown boy that made it to the big time. He graduated from Tomahawk High School in 1981 and worked at the Packaging Corporation of America Tomahawk mill while he attended the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He earned degrees in theater and history. Interested in acting, Jay pursued his dream.
Now, Jay lives in the fast lane in Los Angeles, writes screenplays, meets with movie studio hot shots and rubs shoulders with Hollywood notables, including Burt Reynolds, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt.
But, Jay is not all big city or the glamorous celebrity who has forgotten his hometown. Beginning Wednesday nationwide, you will see that a large part of his heart remains in Tomahawk and the surrounding area.
In his first major studio film, "Without a Paddle," there are several subtle references to Jay's beloved hometown. The movie's characters travel down the Spirit River on a canoe trip. And, one of the characters is Billy Newwood, which is the name of the wildlife area that runs along that local river. Many of the characters' mishaps were Jay's experiences put to paper when he headed out into the woods with his buddies while growing up here.
Even before he co-wrote "Without a Paddle," with his best friend, Mitch Rouse, he showed up for an acting gig as a radio announcer in an orange Tomahawk hunting shirt. To Jay's delight, the movie's costume department thought the shirt was perfect.
In an interview with Tomahawk Leader Reporter Jessica Mincoff, Jay said that even though he's used to the fast pace of Los Angeles, he misses Tomahawk's calmness and the camaraderie of its residents. He says, "Tomahawk is everything L.A. isn't."
It's a place he visits every Thanksgiving, no matter what, to cure himself of an overwhelming stressload, traffic and noise. He also returns for the Fourth of July Pow Wow Days when his schedule allows.
And, even though Jay says he's a different person than when he left here, he's still a kid from Tomahawk making a living doing what he loves to do.
"I fall in love with Tomahawk every time I come back here," he said last fall while sitting in his parents' living room.
Jay Leggett may be in the big city, but his heart is here.