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story.lead_photo.caption The Sentinel-Record/Grace Brown ARKANSAS DIRECTOR: Actor Liam Hemsworth, left, and Glenwood native Clark Duke have some fun between takes of their new movie "Arkansas." The film, Duke's feature directorial debut, was filmed partially in Hot Springs.

After decades working as an actor, Clark Duke wrapped his feature film directorial debut in his birthplace, fulfilling a childhood dream.

The actor, famous for his work on movies like Kick-Ass and Hot Tub Time Machine, and TV shows like The Office and I'm Dying Up Here, has been in the industry since the early 1990s. However, directing, Duke said, has been his goal since he was 12 years old.

The movie is called Arkansas, and it is about two fictional drug runners in the real-life Dixie Mafia. Duke plays one of the drug runners, and the other is played by Liam Hemsworth. The two work for a drug kingpin played by Vince Vaughn.

The movie, based on the book of the same title by John Brandon, has a personal link for Duke. His grandfather was a known associate of the Dixie Mafia.

Duke said that the fictitious story covers themes that he has been thinking about for a long time. He said it took him several years to finally get the film made.

On both directing and acting in the movie, Duke described it as simultaneously both the hardest and the most fulfilling thing he has ever done.

"It's tricky. You have to compartmentalize. How I'm acting, how the other actor is acting, setting up shots ... hopefully, it went all right," Duke said.

"It's like trying to drive a car and cook dinner at the same time," Duke added.

Making the difficult job easier, Duke said, was that his cast and crew were great. He said that everybody from Vaughn to his cinematographer Steven Meizler "made it unbelievable for me."

"It was a childhood dream come true," said Duke, who grew up in Glenwood and was born in Hot Springs.

Despite being titled Arkansas, most of the five-week shoot took place in Alabama. To finish the film, though, he brought the production back home to Hot Springs. In all the years that he has worked in the industry, Duke had never filmed in what he considers his hometown.

"It was surreal," Duke said.

Duke said he intends to continue to direct in the future.

With filming now complete, Duke said that postproduction will likely last until spring of next year. He said that the movie might be in theaters by late 2019 or 2020.

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