The face of the North Wing of the Wisconsin State Capitol is one of the locations in Madison scouted by the Public Enemies production team.
Public Enemies and all of the hoopla surrounding it returned to Wisconsin with full force over the weekend. After production kicked off in March with shoots in Columbus and Darlington, the Michael Mann film about John Dillinger starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale moved on to locations in Crown Point, Indiana, as well as Chicago and Aurora, Illinois, for several weeks. It's back in the Badger State now, though, with at least a week of shooting in Oshkosh, to be followed with more in Madison.
Wisconsin produced kicked off again on Friday with a night scene at Wittman Regional Airport, returning Monday in downtown Oshkosh. The heart of the Fox Valley city has been reshaped by production crews into an open-air set that will serve as the scene of an infamous 1934 bank robbery in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where Dillinger and his gang passed off their crime as a movie shoot, as well as for another heist in Racine.
The transformation and public interest in the set are similar to that seen in Columbus, albeit on a larger scale. The historic downtown of the Columbia County town was likewise transformed, as reported by Columbus resident Rod Melotte, who has been reported on the pandemonium around the town on the first day of shooting, much of it revolving around crowds of gawkers hoping to catch a glimpse of Depp.
Similar scenes ensued at every other location for the production, first in Darlington and subsequently in locations throughout Chicagoland, before this latest round in Oshkosh.
Will there be similar scenes in Madison? Doubtlessly. The Wisconsin State Capitol has been discussed as a potential location for months, and both Mann and a publicist confirmed to The Daily Page that the Public Enemies shooting schedule would include scenes in Madison at some point before primary production is expected to wrap around June.
Public Enemies is currently scheduled to hit the Mad City in early May. The specific timetable of these Madison shoots have not been confirmed, though, and it is unlikely that Universal Pictures will make any announcements, for security reasons as well as for weather and scheduling-related vagaries of a production as large as this. However, extras coordinator Joan Philo Casting has posted a series of open calls (here, here, and here) for more extras over the last ten days, looking to build upon a pool of hopefuls that got started with an open call at Monona Terrace back in February. "We are going to be filming in the Madison in early May," declares the company in one of the online calls.
Where they will be shooting is a much broader question. The Capitol, specifically the North Hearing Room, has been discussed as a potential location for a scene set in the FBI offices. Indeed, it was the exterior of the north wing of the building that Mann and his production managers were examining while on a tech scout in town last month.
In addition to co-star Christian Bale, who is portraying FBI agent Melvin Purvis, other roles among the Feds have been firmed up in recent weeks, with Variety reporting that Billy Crudup will play new FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover and that Stephen Lang will play the retired Texas Ranger Charles Winstead, and later announcing the casting of Shawn Hatosy as another G-man.
Other locations around town have been grist for the Public Enemies rumor mill for some time too, and include everything from downtown taverns to sites on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.
Fans of the movie have now found a series of online photo galleries that show a broad array of locations around Wisconsin that match up with locations already used in Public Enemies shoots, as well as others that have been rumored. As noted on Sunday afternoon by Melotte, there is a Webshots collection bearing the username "publicenemy1" that features galleries of building interiors and exteriors around Madison, Stoughton, Columbus, Beaver Dam, Richland Center, Oshkosh, Milwaukee, and Chicago, among other places. As of today, there are 207 photo albums, shot as early as January 25 and as recently as April 6.
Though there is no outright declaration or confirmation of a connection to the production or Universal Pictures, the galleries speak for themselves. In addition to the username (and its accompanying avatar of a Dillinger wanted poster), the collection features photos of sites already used in the production, confirms the scouting of other sites that have been rumored, and bears names connected with characters featured in the film, as well as their real-life counterparts detailed in the book Public Enemies, upon which the movie is based.
For example, there are galleries of buildings on Washington Avenue in Oshkosh that are locations in today's shooting, namely those serving as the American Bank & Trust in Racine (here and here), as well as the downtown intersection of Church Avenue and Main Street (here) and the adjacent city park (here). A gallery (here) featuring Washington Avenue itself is labeled "get away rd." Meanwhile, there are also photos of Wittman Airport in Oshkosh (here), where an evening and night shoot was conducted amidst a chilly rain last Friday.
There are also many galleries from Columbus, including various intersections with Prairie Street (here, here, and here), where a driving scene was shot in March. Others feature various houses and buildings, along with landscape features, in the town and surrounding country.
Gallery labels highlight the scouting for Public Enemies. Many buildings in multiple cities are labeled "Slayman's," for example. Dorothy Slayman was the wife of Alvin Karpis, a high-profile gangster who ran with Dillinger and is being played in the film by Giovanni Ribisi. Other houses are labeled "Nitti's House"; Frank Nitti, a Capone henchman, is being played in the film by John Ortiz. Several are in Madison, including 1016 Van Buren Street (here), 905 Harrison Street (here), 902 Garfield Street (here) and 1922 Adams Street (here), each in the Vilas neighborhood near Edgewood College. These scouted locations look to be already moot, though, as Nitti's house is being played by a mansion in Columbus, a Craftsman-era home owned by Mary Poser. This house is the site of a meeting between Nitti and Dillinger, and also doubles as the site of a love scene between Depp as Dillinger and Marion Cotillard as the gangster's girlfriend Billie Frechette.
Madison is well-represented in many other galleries, though. There's the Capitol for starters, with galleries of its exterior (here) and various meeting rooms (here) and specifically the North Hearing Room (here and here), another confirmation that these are indeed scouting photos.
A trio of galleries, all labeled "Poolhall," feature images of iconic Madison taverns, namely the Plaza Tavern (here), the Ideal Bar (here), and the Silver Dollar Tavern (here), bolstering rumors of a bar scene to be shot within the city.
Other galleries are labeled "Hospital," featuring images of an empty wing of the Badger Prairie facility in Verona (here), which is noted as an "unused Psychiatric Ward from 1890s to be demolished in 2010," as well as others of first and second floor hallways at St. Marys (here). Other apparent "Hospital" options also include the old University Health Services building on the UW campus (here) and the old UW and State General Hospital on University Avenue (here), which likewise bolsters chatter that the UW campus would be featured in the production. There's also a gallery of the Red Gym (here) and a campus engineering building (here), both of which are labeled "Bureau Office," ostensibly referencing the FBI. There's another (here) of Memorial Union, as well.
Several galleries feature locations in downtown Madison near the Capitol. These include the main hearing room on the second floor of the Madison Municipal Building (here), as well as the interior of 15 North Fairchild Street (here) and 44 East Mifflin Street (here), both on the Square and both labeled "FBI." There is a gallery of the Jackman Building (here), the home of Peppino's Restaurant between Fairchild and Hamilton Streets just off the Square, as well as another of Masonic Temple (here) on Wisconsin Avenue.
What else? There are photos of a hillside in Richland Center (here), fields in Cross Plains (here), the UW Arboretum (here) that's labeled "Liverpool Woods," Lake Kegonsa State Park (here) that's labeled "for Little Bohemia," various houses in Beaver Dam (here, here and here for the house of film character Harriet Liebolt), and Devil's Lake State Park (here). Many others can be viewed through the "Madison" tag for the collection. That's quite a few galleries.
Ultimately, this is a speculative enterprise. Though some of these locations have already been used in the Public Enemies production, many if not most of the others are not likely to be featured in the film. And it goes without saying that Universal Pictures has not confirmed any of these locations or this collection of photos, and indeed has a policy of not doing so. These galleries do provide an excellent window, though, into the scouting process and the vast work that goes into preparing for a production of this scope. They're also simply fun to view and consider, as there will be locations in Madison in use when the shooting gets underway in May.
There are indeed many people in town who are already privy to inside info about the scouting of Public Enemies, at least when it comes to the photos taken inside of their own businesses, residences, and institutions. They haven't been talking, though, as requested by the production and as seen with various other locations around Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana used in the film. But it won't be too long before more is learned about the shoots when the biggest movie production in the state's history pulls into Madison itself.