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Locals get screen time on ‘Succession’

May 10, 2019
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - For one of the first days of filming, all the crew needed to capture was the main actors walking across the courtyard at the Whiteface Lodge. It sounds simple enough, but a lot goes into those few seconds.

"It was raining and 39 degrees out, and we must have filmed it about 30 times. By the end we were all absolutely soaking," Eric Wilson of Bloomingdale said. "But we didn't really mind it. The crew gave us hand warmers, and they were blow drying the girls' hair. Everybody was very appreciative in the end."

For the past few days, HBO has been filming scenes for its original series "Succession" in Lake Placid. A casting call went out a few weeks ago, and a couple of locals got to appear on screen in spots such as the Palace Theatre on Main Street, Whiteface Lodge and High Falls Gorge in Wilmington. The show will also film in Lake George.

"Succession" revolves around the Roy, a wealthy family that owns an international media conglomerate. As the patriarch of the family deals with aging and health issues, his children try to figure out what will become of the company. The show stars Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin, Alan Ruck, Sarah Snook and Jeremy Strong. The current filming is for its second season.

Wilson of Bloomingdale played a billionaire CEO. In real life, Wilson runs Good Guy Productions, a group that will run sound and DJ various events. He said already working in the entertainment business motivated him to act in "Succession."

"We get hired to do the sound for the Saranac Lake High School graduation, but seeing 150 crew members working on this set to make everything perfect was so impressive. It's crazy to see above and beyond they go."

Wilson enjoyed working as an extra, but after the first day of shooting, he went home and said to his wife, "I would not be able to do this for a living.

"Sometimes you're working a 12-hour day, and six of those hours were sitting around waiting to be called on to set, but by the third or fourth day. It became old hat, and I got used to it. It became a cool bonding experience for us from the area."

Wilson said about 20 people from the Adirondacks worked on the shoot this past week. Others came from Saratoga and the Screen Actors Guild in Manhattan, he said.

"The SAG people were great because they're union folks, and a lot of us have never done this type of work before," Wilson said. "The crew would say things like 'WAG,' which means wife and girlfriend. They'd also say 'on your ones,' and the guild people told us it means to go back to your original position. It was very interesting and neat to hear this whole different verbiage and language."

During one of the days of filming, Wilson said he got to meet a few of the main actors.

"We got to know them right off the bat, and they were very approachable, not Hollywood snobs," he said. "I think us locals tend to not get star struck around those types of folks because we already live with so many Olympians and athlete, you know, my mom babysat Billy Demong and he's an Olympic ski jumper."

"Succession" was Wilson's second time working as an extra. The first time was for the 2006 fantasy-romance movie "Just My Luck."

"I'm in the background at Grand Central Station while Lindsay Lohan is upfront kissing some guy," he said. "I never saw the movie, but now I'm able to say I was in a movie with Linsday Lohan."

Christina Anderson of Wilmington also played a billionaire CEO in the show, a role she wishes she could play for the rest of his life.

"I've done a little bit of this in the past. I heard about it and thought, 'Well, I'm not working right now.' I teach skiing on Whiteface, so this is the off-season for me. I figured it is a good way to pad my checking account and have a little bit of fun, too."

Back during the hay day of the American and Spaghetti western, Anderson said she traveled up and down the Rocky Mountains, playing bit parts in movies such as "Little Big Man" and "Barquero."

"I was shot by Lee Van Cleef (in "Barquero")," she said.

Cleef, who often played the villain in westerns, is best known for his role as Angel Eyes or The Bad in Sergio Leone's "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly."

Overall, Wilson and Anderson said working on the TV set was a good experience.

"The crew here treats us very well," Anderson said. They're very outgoing and friendly. I'm impressed with this crew."

Wilson said this gives some exposure to the Adirondacks, and he would like to see more filming done here in the future.

"I'm one of the local people who absolutely love where I live, and I appreciate the film crew for recognizing how great is up here."



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