EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

June 15, 2008

‘Armageddon’ in Lawrence: Willis films at city mills

LAWRENCE — Crowds of gawkers hung over road barriers yesterday, hoping to get a glimpse of Bruce Willis as he filmed a sci-fi flick on Mill Street, which crews had transformed into a post-apocalyptic mess of exploded cars and piles of trash.

It was like nothing this city had seen before.

“The Surrogates” was only filming here for one day, and Willis was on set for only a few hours — he uses a body double the rest of the time — but people were fired up nonetheless.

“I’ve been standing here all day trying to get a shot of Bruce,” Lawrence resident Jennifer Tenney said. “I’ve watched ‘Die Hard.’ I saw ‘Sixth Sense.’ ... I hope I see him soon or I’m going to end up with a sunburn.”

Lawrence police blocked off Canal Street up to Essex Street during the shoot, trying their best to keep die-hard Willis fans and curious passers-by off the very secretive set.

The producers had hoped to go unnoticed here, telling very few people about the shoot.

But with half the downtown blocked off, word spread, and camera flashes and screams of “Bruce” could be heard throughout the day.

The movie is set in a futuristic world where humans live in isolation and interact through surrogate robots. Willis, who plays a cop, is forced to leave his home for the first time in years in order to investigate the murders of others’ surrogates.

Canal Street was crawling with hundreds of extras, cameramen, prop men and crew yesterday as they filmed on the Mill Street wasteland and the bridge leading into the Washington Mills.

The big scene featured Willis entering an anti-surrogate commune, according to the film’s publicist, Ernie Malak.

“It’s the entrance to a commune for people who don’t believe in this technology. They feel robots have taken over society,” Malak said. “The producers saw some interesting sort of look to the mills.”

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