In an instant, state Sen. Hugh Farley became both a Hollywood actor and the mayor of Schenectady.
Earlier this week, the longtime Republican lawmaker from Niskayuna was contacted by the producers of Derek Cianfrance’s “The Place Beyond the Pines” and asked to be among the dignitaries surrounding the star, Bradley Cooper, during a scene at the gymnasium of St. George Greek Orthodox Church on Clinton Street. Farley was initially told he would simply stand behind Cooper as the actor delivered an acceptance speech for being elected the state’s attorney general.
But Farley’s role quickly evolved when he showed up to the gym Wednesday evening. Instead of being asked to stand in the background, a two-page script was thrust in his hands, with the words “mayor’s introduction” written on it.
“I thought I’d be a stationary figure up there,” he said Thursday. “Then they handed me the script and I kind of gulped.”
For much of the next eight hours, Farley delivered his introduction to a crowd of roughly 150 extras gathered in the gym. He estimated that he gave the speech more than a dozen times, even taking the liberty of improvising a bit.
Cianfrance didn’t seem to mind. After all, the 18-term senator has delivered his fair share of election-day speeches.
“I guess it helps you, having given such a speech before,” he said. “They complimented me every time I did it.”
Not to mention, Farley also has some acting experience in his past. He said he once played a New York gangster in a local theater production, but that was during his first years of law school at Georgetown, more than four decades ago.
In the movie, Cooper plays the part of Avery Cross, a Schenectady cop who transforms his law enforcement career into a successful career in politics. During his days as a patrolman, Cross has a run-in with Luke Glanton, a stunt motorcycle rider-turned-outlaw played by Ryan Gosling.
Glanton is eventually killed by Cross, who is injured in a shootout with the bandit. Cross builds on his notoriety by successfully running for Schenectady County district attorney and then later, attorney general.
The movie crew will wrap up most of the main filming by Saturday, but will continue shooting stock footage of the area for the rest of September. Cianfrance has relied on hundreds of local extras, even featuring some of them in prominent speaking roles.
Farley was left smitten by the whole experience. “I guess I’m now a Hollywood star,” he said in jest.