TUPPER LAKE - Movie star Paul Giamatti was on the streets of Tupper Lake Thursday afternoon, shooting his latest movie.
The film, called "Lucky Dog," stars Giamatti and comedic actor Paul Rudd as French-Canadian con men who try to sell Christmas trees in New York City. Rudd did not make the trek to the Adirondacks.
Giamatti has a long acting career that includes credits like lead roles in "Sideways," "The Illusionist," "John Adams," "Cinderella Man" and "Cold Souls." He's also played memorable characters in movies like "Private Parts," "The Truman Show," "Saving Private Ryan," "The Negotiator" and "Man on the Moon."
A crew member holds an umbrella over movie star Paul Giamatti as he watches other workers change the license plate of a car and a street sign to make Tupper Lake look like Canada for a movie shoot Thursday afternoon.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
The scenes shot here use the Adirondacks as a stand-in for Canada, but that meant Tupper Lake had to put on some costume pieces.
About 15 crew members, mostly clad in black rain gear, scurried around the intersection of Park Street and Cliff Avenue Thursday afternoon making small fixes, like putting a fake stop sign with both the French "arret" and the English word "stop" over a normal American stop sign. They also fixed a fake license plate on a car and hung a Canadian flag in the window of Tip Top Electric.
Giamatti stood by and watched in between shoots, drinking coffee while a crew member with a walkie-talkie held an umbrella over his head.
In one scene, Giamatti walked out from the alley behind the former Casier Furniture building and up Cliff Avenue toward the corner of Park Street. He saw a loonie, or a Canadian dollar coin, on the ground and picked it up. Then he looked into a Honda Element sport-utility vehicle parked on the side of the road, tried the door and, when it didn't open, kept walking.
The group was also shooting scenes on state Route 458, just off state Route 30 between Santa Clara and McColloms, earlier Thursday.
Tom Fatone is first assistant director on the film. He was originally involved in the movie "Recreator," which was shot in and around Tupper Lake in 2009, but moved to a different project after a week of work on it. But "Recreator" line producer Louise Lovegrove suggested that Tupper Lake and the area would work well as a fake Canada, which got the actors and movie crew out of the hassle of hauling everything over the border.
Thursday was the only day of shooting that's planned for the area.
"One day of Canada," Fatone said.
The rest is set to be shot in New York City, mostly in Brooklyn, Fatone said.
Though the weather was cloudy and raining much of the day Thursday, Fatone said it actually worked well.
"It's great for the movie," Fatone said.
But spring-like temperatures in the high 40s let Giamatti walk around without gloves, with only a black knit hat and a lighter zip-up jacket to keep him warm.
Before starting the shoot in Tupper Lake, Giamatti and the crew had lunch at Little Italy. Village Mayor Paul Maroun, who also represents the area on the Franklin County Board of Legislators, met him and talked with him a bit.
"It was nice," Maroun said. "He was a real nice guy. ... Very low key. We just sat there and chatted."
Maroun told Giamatti about the history of Tupper Lake and he said the movie star was quite interested in it. Maroun also told Giamatti and the crew to come back any time, and he and the village would do whatever it could to welcome them.
Maroun said he also spoke with one of the producers, who plans to stay at The Point resort on Upper Saranac Lake with other New York City-area friends later this month. He said the producer was particularly interested in the Lake Clear airport staying open, as well as the wine cellar at The Point.
"Lucky Dog" also co-stars Sally Hawkins, and it's the second directorial effort by Phil Morrison, who won praise in 2005 with his directing debut, "Junebug." The "Lucky Dog" script was written by Melissa James Gibson.
The movie is being produced by Giamatti's wife, Elizabeth Giamatti, and Dan Carey through Touchy Feely Films, with financing by Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Greenestreet Films and HanWay.