Hollywood celebs had many happy returns

Category: Shattered News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: December 17, 2006 | Publication: The Vancouver Province | Author: Glen Schaefer
Publication/Article Link:http://www.canada.com/theprovince/index.html

BUSY, BUSY, BUSY: A quick look at some of the films shot here and more on the way

You can tell how busy movie production is in Vancouver by the number of faces you keep seeing here again and again.

Young Hollywood couple Shawn Ashmore and Michelle Trachtenberg started out this year in Vancouver, where he was doing reshoots on X-Men: the Last Stand and she was filming the thriller remake Black Christmas.

That latter production had built a sorority house on a soundstage for three months' filming at Burnaby's Bridge Studios, where Trachtenberg and castmates were clicking away on laptops between takes. No one has downtime in the wired age.

"I was actually checking on a friend's gossip wesbite," said the American actress, folding down her screen as a colleague screamed somewhere else onset. Her movie, also starring Andrea Martin from the 1974 original, opens Dec. 25.

Trachtenberg's Richmond-born boyfriend Ashmore spent some time watching her work, and she got to watch him as an ice-making superhero as well. The pair met at an L.A. party two years ago.

"I was the one who approached him and wouldn't leave him alone until he agreed to go out on a date with me," said Trachtenberg, 21, who starred in Ice Princess afer a long run on TV's Buffy the Vampire Slayer. "Shawn was hot, he's a cutie."

Trachtenberg came back to Vancouver again in the summer for a role in the 1980s dance comedy Kickin' It Old Skool.

Another guy who kept coming back was actor-director Stuart Townsend, here early in the year for a role in the comedy Chaos Theory opposite Ryan Reynolds, and then back again in the fall and winter to direct the just-wrapped drama Battle in Seattle. His Oscar-winning significant other Charlize Theron was part of that movie's ensemble cast.

We'll get a look this Friday at Night At the Museum, an effects-heavy comedy starring Ben Stiller as a night watchman who's overwhelmed when the exhibits come to life after closing time. Robin Williams (who works here a lot), Owen Wilson (I Spy) and Dick Van Dyke had supporting roles in the movie, which filmed for more than four months mostly at the Vancouver Film Studios. Stiller took a rare break to hand out the visual effects prize at last February's Oscar ceremony.

A quicker shoot was the romance When a Man Falls in the Forest, which filmed for a month with Sharon Stone and Timothy Hutton. Hutton came back for three months in the spring to make The Last Mimzy, a dark childrens' movie.

Vancouver producer Bill Vince hit the ground running after his Oscar nomination for Capote. He came back from the L.A. ceremony with Pierce Brosnan, Gerard Butler and Maria Bello to make the thriller Butterfly On a Wheel.

"It's a toughie, really, about a husband and wife who get waylaid by this crazy, horrid psychotic guy," Brosnan told me. "I'm the psychotic guy. For one day I hold them ranson with their child."

Brosnan is another repeat shooter -- he came back to Vancouver for the summer to make the period thriller Marriage with Chris Cooper and Rachel McAdams.

"It's been part of my life's existence this year, I like it here very much," Brosnan said, adding he also worked here 15 years ago in the pre-Bond days.

American hard guy Michael Madsen starred in and co-produced the crooked-cop drama Vice, written and directed by Vancouver's Raul Inglis. Madsen brought in his Kill Bill co-star Darryl Hannah as well.

"It's a dark, dark tale of a cop who's gone off the deep end, surrounded by a lot of violence and bad circumstances. He goes a little nuts," said Madsen during a break in his trailer at the Riverview set, out of character in a Hawaiian shirt. Sounds like this movie is right up his alley.

We're also awaiting the release of another movie from a Vancouver writer-director, American Venus by Bruce Sweeney. That movie, starring Rebecca DeMornay and Vancouver's Jane McGregor, will play the festival circuit before hitting theatres later this year. Sweeney's last movie, the smart comedy Last Wedding, had the coveted opening slot at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival.

Jessica Alba feels right at home here after launching her career seven years ago with the Vancouver-filmed TV series Dark Angel. This year, she hit town in July for the comedy Good Luck Chuck opposite comedian Dane Cook, and stuck around until year's end to make the superhero sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

"I've pretty much worked with all these people before," she told me as she hung with the Chuck crew at UBC's Cecil Green mansion. "It's nice having history here, it feels like home. It's a place where I went through a lot of things, big pivotal moments in my life."

Another regular visitor is Halle Berry, who has made two X-Men movies and Catwoman in Vancouver. She was back this year for Things We Lost in the Fire, a smaller drama in which she co-stars as a young widow alongside Benicio Del Toro and David Duchovny.

The drama was all off-screen during this fall's shoot for the comedy Blonde and Blonder, starring Denise Richards and Pamela Anderson. Richards looked cheerful enough when I saw her working one day at the River Rock Casino, but she cancelled a scheduled interview. Things got more heated after I left -- she accosted a paparazzi and tossed his laptop off a balcony, beaning a couple of senior citizens below.

Others making movies this year in Vancouver included: Mark Wahlberg (Shooter), Renee Zellweger (Case No. 39), and Sarah Michelle Gellar (Addicted).

Scheduled for the new year are Anne Hathaway, arriving in January to start a role as a grief counsellor in the drama Passengers, and Kim Basinger, here in February to make the thriller While She Was Out.