When Charlie N. Townsend was a student at Springstead High School, this Spring Hill native could be seen on the school basketball court and at local fishing holes, shining as a top-notch performer in Mrs. Pusta’s drama class. In more recent weeks, he has been seen on the big screen at Beacon Brooksville Cinemas and other movie theatres across the country! Indeed, Townsend has a leading role in the Western adventure “The Night They Came Home.”
In his role as Rufus Buck, a real-life historical figure who led a gang of roguish criminals in the Old West, Townsend plays a part that he, in many ways, felt destined to play. “I love historical pieces, and was researching historical figures that were people of color. When I read about Rufus Buck, I wanted to write a script about him myself,” Townsend said. “When I came across this script, everything seemed to align.”
During a whirlwind 12-day shoot in Santa Clarita, California, Townsend acted alongside cinematic favorites such as Danny Trejo, Robert Carradine and Brian Austin Green. He learned to ride a horse (“Thankfully, they gave me a nice one,” he says with a chuckle), and also refined his acting skills by playing the complex role of an antihero. “It’s important to convey all sides of a person and their motivations,” he said.
This 2011 graduate of Springstead High School caught the acting bug at an early age, according to his father, Charles Townsend Jr.
“My mother would take him and her other grandkids to church and put them in skits,” said Charles Townsend Jr., a native of Spring Hill. “He took acting lessons in Tampa. He always knew what he wanted to do.”
His son agrees. “Acting was always the biggest thing,” he said. “Back in school, when they asked me what I wanted to be, I said that I wanted to be a comedian. And although I was once anxious and self-conscious about going on stage, it feels so natural now. I always show a part of myself through my roles.”
It is so natural, in fact, that since 2019, Townsend—now a resident of Los Angeles, California—has appeared in a myriad of film projects in a spectrum of genres. He appeared in the lifetime thriller Pool Boy Nightmare, the comedy short The Janitor, the historical short The Zoo, the action/adventure feature Arctic Apocalypse, and the comedy short Spoof Deez. He is signed with two theatrical agencies and is set to star in an upcoming horror film, amongst other projects.
Townsend claims that the recent increase in positive and empowering roles for people of color in movies gives him hope.
“As long as it’s natural and not forced, I think it’s a great trend,” he said. “I’d love to find more of those roles for myself, and to write and direct scripts with good roles for all types of people.”
“Up on stage and in film,” he said, “I feel freed.”
And Dad feels proud. “It’s amazing to see my son on the big screen,” said Charles Townsend Jr. “It’s surreal.”