Is Greenwich ready for the big screen? The makers of a new movie sure seem to think so, and that means some big names are coming to town in February.
At its Jan. 24 meeting, the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the closure of a portion of Hamilton Avenue on Feb. 11 for a day of outdoor shooting in the movie, which currently is without a title but does have named actors attached. Jennifer Aniston has the lead in the movie, with a key supporting role filled by Tim Robbins. The movie was formerly titled The Switch and is actually a prequel of sorts to the 1999 Quentin Tarantino movie Jackie Brown. Both movies are adapted from Elmore Leonard novels, and this movie follows younger versions of characters played in Jackie Brown by Samuel L. Jackson and Robert De Niro.
In this untitled movie, Louis Gara, better known by his former stage name of Mos Def, and Oscar nominee John Hawkes will play the younger versions of those characters who kidnap a rich real estate developer’s wife, who will be played by Ms. Aniston. The only problem? The developer, who will be played by Mr. Robbins, has no intention of paying the ransom since he doesn’t want her back.
The movie also co-stars Isla Fisher, best known for her role in Wedding Crashers, and former Saturday Night Live cast member Will Forte. The movie, which is set in the 1970s and will require some transformation of Greenwich to take it back in time, will be shooting in town for several weeks. So far the Hamilton Avenue scene is the only one that is requiring the use of public property.
The closure at 176 Hamilton Avenue, in the Chickahominy section, at the Two Door Restaurant will be for shooting between 6:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. and will require the Greenwich Police Department to close the street intermittently to allow traffic to go through except while shooting proceeds. Michael Hartel, location manager for the movie, said shooting will also take place at other locations in the 25 days they plan to be in town and in Stamford for the movie. Mr. Hartel said it’s likely that Fairview Country Club, a tennis club on Sound Beach Avenue in Old Greenwich and some private homes on Round Hill Road will be used for interior scenes.
Hamilton Avenue is being utilized for one scene that Mr. Hartel described as a fight scene involving a moving vehicle. The scene begins inside the restaurant and then proceeds out into the street, which necessitates the road closure. Mr. Hartel admitted that the filming process can be “painfully slow” and said there would be a lot of down time when the street would be completely open to passing traffic.
The proposal had the full backing of the selectmen along with several jokes about getting cameos in the movie. First Selectman Peter Tesei promised that approval was not contingent on that or anyone getting any autographs. First Selectman Drew Marzullo did jokingly suggest that the board not approve it in order to get Ms. Aniston herself come to make the request at the next meeting.
“We want to support filming in Greenwich,” Mr. Tesei said. “I think it’s one of the few things that’s occurred over the last several years that not only generates a lot of attention in town but commerce. I don’t know if people even realize that, but when you have an influx of people who are here to do their artistic work, they support the local businesses, food establishments and so forth.”
Shooting will be taking place during the district’s winter recess, so there will not be any traffic from nearby Hamilton Avenue School. Mr. Hartel said that while the restaurant would be closed that day to the public, the owners would be compensated for that in addition to purchases of food for the crew that whole day. The road closure has been signed off on by the GPD, which will have officers directing traffic, and people may take a detour onto West Putnam Avenue if needed.
One complication is that there will be a lack of parking in front of the restaurant because of the filming. Since the movie is a period piece, 1970s era cars are being used and will be in the area taking up the spots. Mr. Hartel said he had discussed this with town’s parking services director, Allen Corry, and they would make an arrangement for this.
Greenwich has become a bit of a popular destination for filming in recent years. Mr. Hartel noted that he is already familiar with the town because of the episodes of the Showtime comedy/drama The Big C starring Laura Linney. Recently David Duchovny filmed scenes in town for the drama After the Fall, which deals with the story of real-life town residents John and Brenda Fareri, who lost their daughter unexpectedly to rabies and then worked to build a world-class children’s hospital in Westchester County, N.Y. And last year Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton and a cast that included Darien’s Topher Grace and New Canaan’s Katherine Heigl filmed scenes for The Big Wedding, about a divorced couple pretending to be still married for their daughter’s wedding.
Both of those movies are scheduled for release this year. It’s unclear right now when this new movie will be released.