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120 Degrees in the Shade: Filming Georgia

2007-10-05 15:05

While scheduling requirements for the actors necessitated that the shoot remain close to Los Angeles, director Garry Marshall and his production crew needed a place with lakes and mountains that could mirror the beauty of a simple hometown in the Midwest. They found that in Mount Wilson in the San Gabriel Valley and Franklin Canyon Lake, in the heart of the city of Los Angeles.

Rachel and Lilly find themselves temporarily housed at 247 Hillview Street, Georgia Randall's home that Lilly left 13 years earlier. Georgia's well-tended garden, porch – complete with rustic swing – and lush ferns serve as exterior to her two-story bungalow.

As the younger women walk into the interior of Georgia's house, they see little has changed in her world since the time Lilly left. Records from Glen Campbell to The Four Lads are played nightly. Georgia still showcases her vases and Bluebirds of Happiness collection, and the same mosaic-print table runners fill her living and dining rooms. The kitchen is simple and plain, complete with placards reminding us to "Count Your Blessings" and plants, including mother-in-law's tongues (irony intended), lining the shelves.

Rachel will spend much of this summer of renewal in her mom's room. Just as she has in the rest of her cottage, Georgia hasn't changed much since Lilly left home all those years ago. From the Janis Joplin and Doors posters on the wall to the clown figurines Lilly collected as a girl, the room remains a quiet memorial to the child who once lived there.

Fonda remarks: "One of the stars of the show is small-town America. Some people might feel claustrophobic in it, but I think it works magic on this young girl who's so lost."

One unwelcome star was the overpowering heat that became another cast member during the shoot. Lindsay Lohan laughs of the scene that opens the film: "It was 120 degrees outside! I'm walking barefoot outside on really hot pavement in a desert, and Felicity is in the scene in a Mercedes with the air conditioning on."

Felicity Huffman agrees with her on-screen daughter about the outrageous temperature. "It was 120 degrees! We were way up in the Sierras, and everyone was dying. Then there's Garry, with his Popsicle, moving around for 15-hour-days and directing brilliantly."

The temperatures would prove unbearable at times, but the director felt it added to the camaraderie on set… though he drops the mercury by a few degrees. "A 110-degree heat! Even the most temperamental people tend to gather together in the shade. It was a shade-related melding of this cast, because they were so hot they would stand under anything that gave them relief."

With no on-set casualties from a 2006 summer shoot in sunny Southern California, the production would wrap with crew and cast temperatures sufficiently cooled. Marshall took it all in stride.

"I like to be the kind of person who stands at the edge of the cliff," he comments, "and I let them all try things. If they're going to fall off the cliff, then I say, 'No, don't go there'."

Of his hopes for his picture, director Marshall concludes: "I did a picture years ago called Nothing in Common, with Jackie Gleason and Tom Hanks; it was about a father-son relationship. And wherever I traveled people said, 'You know, after I saw that, I called my father. I haven't talked to him in 10 years, but I called up my father'. I hope Georgia Rule will bring families a little closer together. Call the grandma. Call the mother. Call the daughter. She's not really the worst child in the history of the world."
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