Not too many people south of the (Canadian) border realized it, but several scenes from Brad Pitt’s new movie "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" were shot in Winnipeg this week. It’s caused quite a stir in that city, though. The movie and the movie star were front page news for a couple of days.
Mr. Pitt flew into town Sunday afternoon, more or less unseen. Staff of Winnipeg’s Fairmont Hotel were sworn to secrecy. Pitt somehow managed to sneak out for dinner at a fancy Winnipeg restaurant that night, alluding local photogaphers and the paparazzi who apparently follow him everywhere on earth including Winnipeg.
For this week’s Dullum File we talked with people watching the filming from behind street barricades. Many of them were taking a break from work. Students at a nearby college cut classes, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Hollywood hearttrob. Some of the 250 locals hired as extras and dressed in period clothing from the 1880’s got the best look at Pitt.
The film has been in production in Calgary and Edmonton since August. The crew shot for four days in Winnipeg at the Burton Cummings Theater and at the Pantages Playhouse. Winnipeg’s Albert, Garry and Princess streets in the historic Exchange District double in the movie for Kansas City, St. Joseph, Missouri, Baltimore and New York. No one we talked with seemed upset with traffic and parking problems caused by the movie-makers.
Two blocks of Princess were covered with sand. Cement sidewalks were covered with wooden ones. Parking meters were masked for the filming. Two huge fans blew "fog" from both ends of one block creating more atmosphere for a funeral procession scene.
The movie is to be released next year. It also stars Casey (Ben’s brother) Affleck, Sam Shepard Mary-Louise Parker and Robert Duvall. Mr. Pitt is also a producer of the film which is based on a book by Ron Hansen.