PopHampton: Hamptonite Casts History for HBO, Locals for ‘Royal Pains’

Matt Bomer co-stars in "A Normal Heart," filmed on Long Island and with casting by a Hamptons local.
Matt Bomer co-stars in "The Normal Heart," filmed on Long Island and with casting by a Hamptons local. Photo credit: Jason Kempin/ Getty Images Entertainment/Thinkstock

Happy Memorial Day, Hamptonites! There is a ton to do on the East End during the summer, and we’re thinking it would be the perfect place for the stressed to come and relax…like legendary Hamptonite Alec Baldwin, who was arrested on May 13 after allegedly riding his bike in the wrong direction in Manhattan. Word has it that he got angry and wouldn’t cooperate with the cops. Hopefully the dispute will be settled soon.

Summer movie season is upon us, and that means lots of high-profile films starring major celebs. With such a large selection of films, there will be several opportunities to catch your favorite East End regulars on the big screen. A new take on Godzilla premiered on May 16, with Montauk regular Elizabeth Olsen as the female lead. TV fans will also appreciate seeing Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston as her father-in-law. On May 23, Hamptons fan Hugh Jackman returns to the big screen as Wolverine, the role that made him a star, in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The long-awaited sequel connects the first three X-Men movies (released early 2000s) with the more recent entries with a time-travel story that follows Wolverine’s desperate attempt to stop a cataclysmic disaster. On August 8, Scarlett Johansson takes everything she’s learned as Marvel’s Black Widow and channels it into Lucy, an action thriller about a young woman who is kidnapped and forced to carry a drug shipment in her stomach. The package explodes, but in true Hollywood form, Lucy ends up with super powers and decides to get revenge on those that wronged her.

The big screen may be brimming with action, but don’t count out the small screen. On Sunday, May 25, HBO will premiere The Normal Heart, a film adaptation of the iconic Larry Kramer stage play. The film, which explores the terrifying early days of the AIDS crisis, features a cast of TV regulars like Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons, White Collar’s Matt Bomer and Looking’s Jonathan Groff, as well as film stars Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, Joel Grey and more. Directed by Ryan Murphy—who has created such shows as Glee and Nip/Tuck—the film takes an unflinching look at the negligence, fear and ambivalence that surrounded early AIDS cases and how a group of gay men (with the help of Roberts’ character, a doctor who has seen many AIDS patients) fight to gain visibility and resources to find a cure.

Some of The Normal Heart’s early scenes take place on Fire Island, one of Long Island’s largest gay summer destinations. Scenes of wild, carefree revelers are quickly overshadowed by the sudden and seemingly random death of a young man (played by Groff). Casting director and East End local Grant Wilfley cast the extras for the big Fire Island party scenes. “Having lived through that era, it’s very personal,” Wilfley says. “Getting it right…everything we had to, the people, the look, it had to be right.” Many of the actors cast in the film had to look like convincing AIDS patients of the era, before medication could stabilize the virus. “We did an open call and looked for a lot of very thin actors. Many of the actors were from Manhattan, and we did several postings and notices on Fire Island.”

Wilfley felt a true dedication among everyone involved with the project. “It was very serious. Most of the people realized how serious it was and how relevant to the period it was. And it’s still going on. AIDS…there’s still no cure. I think the documenting of the AIDS crisis was always on the mind of [the cast and crew], especially for those of us who lived [through that time period].”

Wilfley also casts extras for the Hamptons-set Royal Pains on USA, scheduled to debut the new season on Tuesday, June 10. “We just started filming. We’re hoping to use a lot of Hamptons locals.” In addition to the Hamptons locations, the show also films in Huntington’s Oheka Castle. When prodded for spoilers, Wilfley laughs, “They don’t really tell us what’s coming up until that episode.”

Have a safe and fun Memorial Day Weekend, folks! And check DansPapers.com for all your up-to-the-minute pop culture news and gossip.

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