Actor James Franco was in town and later on campus Monday to film scenes for the upcoming film “The Sound and the Fury,” a period drama set in 1910. A portion of Washington Road, between Faculty Road and Route 1, was closed for the movie shooting.
The film, which Franco is both directing and starring in, is based on the William Faulkner novel of the same name, film production supervisor Kurt Enger said. Danny McBride, Seth Rogen and Jon Hamm also star in the movie.
The town received a letter from Gentle Films LLC on March 18, the production company behind the film, requesting permission to close the road for the scene. The letter was signed by Enger.
The movie itself is set in Cambridge, Mass. However, Princeton was chosen for filming due to its proximity to New York City, as Franco is currently starring in a production of the Broadway play “Of Mice and Men.” Most other scenes were shot in Mississippi or Los Angeles, Enger said, and none were shot in Cambridge.
“We chose Lake Carnegie because it had a similar look to one of the bridges up in Cambridge, at Harvard,” Enger said.
Joe Pica, the West Windsor chief of police, said the film crew decided to use the bridge because one of their actors would be walking on the bridge and jumping off into the lake. Although it might not have seemed like the shot would take long, the road was slated to be closed for six-and-a-half hours because the crew was planning to prepare Washington Road to look like a dirt road in the context of the movie, Pica said.
However, Enger said they decided not to create the dirt road, instead removing the traffic lights and planting signs and period cars from 1910 along the bridge to make it fit the scene.
“In one of the scenes he walks up the bridge and kind of contemplates suicide, and in another scene he follows through with it. He jumps off the bridge into the water.” Enger said.
These two scenes were filmed at the bridge, and one other scene was filmed in the area behind Prospect House, Enger said. In the Prospect House scene, Quentin and Miss Quentin Compson, his niece, are walking through the city of Cambridge.
“We had a great time here in Princeton,” Enger said.
Washington Road was closed from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Monday for the filming. Pica noted that the crew was deliberately not allowed to film during rush hours to prevent major traffic problems. In addition, an easy detour through Alexander Road was provided.
A police dispatcher said the West Windsor police had received no complaints about traffic problems due to the road closure. The West Windsor police coordinated with the University’s Department of Public Safety, the Princeton Police Department, and the Mercer County and state Department of Transportation officials.
Enger confirmed that the company also coordinated with the University administration when shooting scenes both on campus and at the bridge.
If the scenes filmed on campus on Monday are included in the film, this could be the University’s third film appearance in the last year, following “Admission,” in which Tina Fey starred as a University admissions officer, and “Runner, Runner,” in which Justin Timberlake played a University graduate student.