November 10, 2011 6:18 PM
Firth, Oscar winner for “The King’s Speech” and costar Blunt, from “The Devil Wears Prada,” started filming in Graham Thursday evening at a diner the crew created at the Ember’s Motor Lodge on N.C. 54. Filming is expected to move across the street today to a room at the Travel Inn.
In addition to Alamance County, the movie, which is directed by Dante Ariola from an original script by Becky Johnston, will be filmed in various places in the state, including Wilmington and the Triangle region.
Firth and Blunt arrived in Graham just before 6 p.m. Thursday and spent about a half hour rehearsing a scene which takes place in a diner. At one point in the scene, Firth apparently attempts to get Blunt’s attention by yanking a menu from her hands and tossing it aside.
Earlier in the day Thursday, Firth and Blunt were filming at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham. While Firth was expected in Graham by 3 p.m., the rain caused a slight delay, one of the set designers told the Times-News.
Set designers and set dressers spent most of Thursday transforming a space at the Embers Motor Lodge that was once a restaurant and then an Internet sweepstakes business into a diner with Interstate 40/85 as a backdrop.
A crew made up of three or four people moved props, including items such as a telephone booth, a Wilmington Star-News newspaper rack, a “wait to be seated” sign and anything else normally found in a diner down to the mustard and ketchup found on every table in red and yellow squeeze bottles.
The designers painted walls, installed hanging plants, set up a coffee station and created the “All American Menu” on a board that hung on the set. A Reuben, beef stroganoff and Greek salad were among some of the entrees listed.
Just after 6:30 p.m. Thursday, a series of trucks and vans arrived with a crew of about 50 people. They spent about an hour setting up lights and sound equipment inside the makeshift diner. Extras began arriving around 7 p.m. Firth and Blunt returned to the set after a dinner break and shooting began at about 7:45 p.m.
Barbara Salmon of McLeansville stood just off set, hoping to get a peek into the business of moving-making — even though she’s not a big movie watcher. Her son, Randy Salmon, was recruited by a friend in Wilmington to be an extra in the diner scene.
“My boy’s in there,” she said proudly. “I thought I’d get up here as close as I could to see what’s happening.”
Several off-duty Graham police officers were hired to be on the scene during the filming. Graham police Capt. Steve McGilvray said police were contacted about a month ago about assisting with security and traffic control in the area. Two officers were hired to work in six-hour shifts and were expected to be on the set from early Thursday until about 2 a.m. Friday and then again later in the morning until about 2 a.m. Saturday.
The movie is about Wallace Avery (Firth) who hates his job and is despised by his ex-wife. He stages his own death and forms a new identity as Arthur Newman. On the way to living his dreams, Newman meets Mike (Blunt) who is also trying to escape her old life.
The Times News