As the grounds of the Wisconsin Capitol were transformed into a movie set for the production of Public Enemies, crowds gathered around the Square to catch a glimpse of the Hollywood magic on Monday. The best seat in the house, though, at least for a scene that was shot in the morning and early afternoon, might have been from the windows of Capitol offices facing East Washington Avenue, from which they could look down on the action. Legislative staffers and others indeed watched the show below, a scene featuring Billy Crudup as FBI director J. Edgar Hoover introducing Christian Bale as Chicago agent Melvin Purvis to a scrum of reporters at a press conference in Washington, D.C..
Cast members, extras, not to mention the crew and their equipment, filled the top platform of the steps leading down from the second floor of the Capitol to East Washington Avenue. The scene was shot from a variety of angles, both from the perspective of the G-Men and the journalists; one angle that included a broader background even captured extras and vintage autos passing along Pinckney Street on the Square while in view of the cameras
Befitting his exacting reputation, director Michael Mann was hands-on throughout the shoot, guiding Crudup, Bale, and the extras through many takes, taking a hand at the camera and placing props to fit his vision of the scene. It was a wonderful look at this expansive yet efficient Hollywood production, one that moved on to the State Street quadrant of the Square for the afternoon.
View photos of the cast and crew of Public Enemies work on the scene in front of East Washington Avenue at the Wisconsin Capitol in the gallery above.