People milling around Union College’s library Monday afternoon appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary, until a voice bellowed, “Cut!” and movie star James Franco emerged from behind the scenes.
Filming for “The Pretenders,” a movie directed by Franco, caused a bit of a stir Monday at Union College. The movie has also closed streets in Albany in recent weeks, as crews transformed parts of the area into filming locations.
Production came to Union College’s campus on Monday, where filming took place over the course of several hours near the Nott Memorial and the library. Some students expressed excitement at the chance to meet the actor and director, while others were frustrated that the production cut off access to certain walkways on campus.
Wearing a dark coat, black jeans and a black New York Yankees hat, Franco stayed behind the scenes, for the most part. He occasionally popped into the open as passing students strained to get a photo of him.
Franco, 38, is best known for his work on the TV show “Freaks and Geeks,” and for his work in movies like “Pineapple Express,” “127 Hours” and “This is The End.”
Production assistants were stationed around campus to direct students away from the set at certain times. While some expressed frustration at how long the filming blocked off roads and walkways on campus, most were excited to catch a glimpse of the TV and movie star.
Filming began a little after noon and continued for the next several hours, until the sun started to go down. Social media exploded with activity when students learned Franco was on campus.
“I just slept through my classes, but I will get out of my bed to see James Franco shoot this movie on my campus. No shame,” one student tweeted.
Mallory Epstein, a freshman, said when filming was first getting underway, she saw a crowd of people and walked toward them to find Franco. He offered to take photos with the group, she said.
Another student, Nick DeLuca, said he saw Franco hanging out and went up to him to try and get a photo. But he was stopped by an assistant who told him Franco was busy and couldn’t take photos, DeLuca said.
The college sent an email to students on Sunday to let them know about the filming and that access to certain areas of the campus would be limited while the crew was working.
The production involved at least a couple dozen Union College students. Some were cast as extras in the film, and some students in the college’s film program worked on set as production assistants.
“The Pretenders” is set in the 1970s and 80s and is being shot on location in Troy and Albany, as well. The movie stars Keith Stanfield, who starred in “Straight Outta Compton,” and Evan Peters, who has been featured in “American Horror Story” and the latest X-Men films, in which he plays Quicksilver.
Reach Gazette reporter Brett Samuels at 395-3113, [email protected] or @Brett_Samuels27 on Twitter.