By: Dana Barbuto The Patriot Ledger December 3, 2020
WEYMOUTH – Lights! Camera! Weymouth! Movie magic is returning to Union Point, the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station. Film crews are busy transforming “The Hangout,” a 33,000-square-foot former fighter-jet hangar, into a soundstage to shoot the star-studded film, “Don’t Look Up,” a Netflix comedy starring Oscar-winners Jennifer Lawrence (“American Hustle”) and Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”).
“There are no star sightings yet,” said Heidi Anderson, president of the Southfield Neighborhood Association, but there’s a flurry of activity.
“There are a lot of trucks over there and they put up a metal fence with black netting. It seems like there are a lot more set people since the last movie,” she said.
DiCaprio and Lawrence play star-crossed astronomers discovering a devastating meteor on a collision course with Earth. They try to warn the public, but no one takes their admonitions of impending doom seriously – even the president.
At Union Point on Thursday, yellow-and-black “crew” parking placards were hung on light posts and telephone poles surrounding the area at 26 Memorial Ave. Two large white catering tents – one with a red sign reading “Red Zone Catering” – were set up behind The Hangout. About a half-dozen steel containers bearing the shamrock-and-cow logo for set-builders “O’Catharnaigh Film Construction,” were parked in the corner of the parking lot. Two flights of wooden stairs painted with orange railings were spotted in a pile of debris near the catering tent. About two weeks ago, green screens, cameras on lifts and rows of illuminated lights were visible to passersby through an open doorway and windows.
Earlier this week, scenes for “Don’t Look Up” were shot at South Station in Boston and in a residential neighborhood in Framingham. Crews also will be shooting on location at the DCU Center in Worcester, hometown of writer-director Adam McKay, an Oscar-winner for “The Big Short.” The shoot is expected to continue through February.
It’s unclear which actors and what scenes are being filmed in Weymouth. The movie also stars two-time Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett, three-time Oscar-winner Meryl Streep, Ariana Grande, Jonah Hill, Himesh Patel, Timothée Chalamet, Kid Cudi and Matthew Perry of “Friends” fame.
Film crews also used Union Point to shoot scenes for “Free Guy,” an adventure-comedy starring Ryan Reynolds (“Deadpool”) this past May. That movie’s release has been COVID-delayed twice and is now marked as “pending.” Other movies filmed at the old air base were Mark Wahlberg’s “Patriots Day,” Jake Gyllenhaal’s “Stronger” and Paul Feig’s all-female reboot of “Ghostbusters.”
“We’re having the best experience filming here and working with great local crew and cast members, too,” McKay said, in a statement to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. “I lived around here (Worcester) as a kid until I was about 10 years-old. It’s nice to be back.”
Massachusetts and the South Shore have been focal points for major movie shoots. Since the tax credits were signed into law in 2005 – and expanded two years later – the region has provided locations for films such as: “Knives Out,” “Little Women,” “The Equalizer,” “The Judge,” “The Way Way Back,” “Thoroughbreds,” “Ted 2,” “The Finest Hours” and “Black Mass.”
This isn’t DiCaprio’s first time making a movie on the South Shore. He filmed scenes for the Oscar-winning “The Departed” at the Fore River shipyard in Quincy in 2005. Three years later, DiCaprio dropped in to shoot scenes for “Shutter Island” on Peddocks Island in 2008. Lawrence shot “American Hustle” in Massachusetts in 2013 and “Joy” in 2015.
Even with COVID cases surging in Massachusetts, movie and TV shows have resumed production. In October, the AMC comedy, “Kevin Can F*** Himself,” starring Emmy winner Annie Murphy (“Schitt’s Creek”), shot scenes in Hingham and Brockton. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s horror flick, “The Shrine,” filmed in Sudbury and Clinton. The HBO Max TV production of “Julia,” about the late culinary icon Julia Child filmed in Boston, Framingham, Malden, among other locales. “Mother/Android” starring Chloe Grace Moretz holed up for a bit in the woods on the North Shore.
“Don’t Look Up” will be released on Netflix in 2021.
Patriot Ledger reporter Jessica Trufant contributed to this report.