By Brian Messenger
---- — LAWRENCE — Movie star and Oscar-winning director Ben Affleck was reportedly on the hunt for prospective filming locations when he was spotted in downtown Lawrence this week.
Lawrence District Court officer Danny Ramirez was on his lunch break Thursday when he ran into Affleck in front of the courthouse at the corner of Appleton Way and Methuen Street.
“Once all the ladies found out Ben Affleck was around, they flew outside,” said fellow court officer Edwin Abreu. “They were all over the place, looking for him everywhere.”
After a quick chat in which Affleck said he was seeking filming locations for an upcoming movie, Ramirez was lucky enough to get his picture taken with the star. It was all the proof Ramirez needed to impress co-worker Matt Clark.
“I didn’t believe him,” said Clark. “I went out, I said, ‘Yeah, right. Where is he? Then he showed me the picture.”
Affleck also offered a quick wave to Abreu before jumping into his black Chevy Suburban with a pair of associates. The group then drove off to take a closer look at the nearby Pacific Mills Industrial Complex.
That was the last anyone at the court saw of Affleck and his crew.
Affleck directed “Argo,” which won best picture at the 85th annual Academy Awards in February. He is also reportedly on board to write, direct, produce and star in “Live by Night,” an adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel.
Affleck isn’t the only Hollywood name with his eye on the Merrimack Valley.
Also this week, Haverhill officials announced Columbia Pictures is leasing the former Lowe’s building off Route 97 to film the “The Equalizer,” featuring Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington.
Mayor James Fiorentini said production crews are already on scene setting up for filming, which he said will take place inside the building this summer.