George Clooney got an early start to the day in Boston Wednesday as he directed scenes for his upcoming movie “The Tender Bar.”
Filming for the drama was under way in the South End by 7 a.m., with Clooney directing star Tye Sheridan (“Ready Player One”) and other actors at a cafe scene filmed at South End Buttery on Shawmut Avenue.
Based on the memoir by J.R. Moehringer of the same name, much of the movie’s action takes place in the ’80s, which meant plenty of period-appropriate attire. The scenes filmed in South End Wednesday were meant to take place in New York City, with 1980s-era taxi cabs rolling around the block sporting New York license plates and NYC decals.
“The Tender Bar” tells the story of Moehringer’s childhood living on Long Island without a father, a New York disc jockey who disappeared before the author (played in the movie by Sheridan) could speak. Seeking a father figure, Moehringer begins spending time at a bar owned by his uncle (played in the film by Ben Affleck), where the regulars welcome him as one of their own.
By late morning, filming moved to South End restaurant Aquitane, where a crowd gathered on Tremont Street to watch the action. By that point, both Clooney and Sheridan were out of sight, but South End residents still got to watch extras in period-appropriate attire stroll back and forth in front of the restaurant.
Kalyn Ellison and Lizzie Callaway, who live just down the street from Aquitane, heard about the filming after their roommate saw a sign in Aquitane’s window. The pair hoped to catch a glimpse of Clooney, Sheridan, or Affleck before work duties forced them back to their apartment.
“We’re supposed to be on a meeting in like 30 minutes, but...,” Callaway said, trailing off. “More like an hour, actually.”
Sue-Ann, who lives on Shawmut, stopped by to watch filming while on a walk with her Corgi, Shirley.
“My daughter sent me a text like, ‘George Clooney’s in the neighborhood!’ so here we are,” she said.
At nearby Union Park, retro cars lined the street, with signs indicating that production vehicles would be parked there through Thursday. A production notice sent to residents indicated that additional scenes would be filmed in Union Park, with crews simulating rainfall for the shoot.
Since starting production in late February, “The Tender Bar” has filmed in Boston, Cambridge, Lowell, Lynn, and Watertown. Filming will continue until mid-April, and it’s expected to take place in North Shore towns like Ipswich and Beverly, according to a source familiar with the production.
Fans hoping to catch a glimpse of Affleck may want to head to Beverly this week, where crews have begun setting up at local bar Jacob’s Corner. The bar will likely stand in for Publicans, the Long Island watering hole from “The Tender Bar,” where Affleck’s character works.
Grabbed coffee before heading back home to take a nap (hello occipital neuralgia) but saw the setup of a George Clooney film in my neighborhood! It’s called “The Tender Bar” & they’re transforming a local bar and creating a fake storefront. So cool. pic.twitter.com/dwImQ53ZDq— Kate Porter (@katemeredithp) March 9, 2021
In the novel, Moehringer wrote that his uncle Danny’s bar was originally named Dickens, which is the name filmmakers painted on the side of Jacob’s Corner earlier this week.
Besides Affleck and Sheridan, “The Tender Bar” will star Lily Rabe (“American Horror Story”) as Moehringer’s mother and Christopher Lloyd (“Back to the Future”) as his grandfather. Rounding out the cast are Sondra James (“Joker”), Max Martini (“Sgt. Will Garner”), Michael Braun (“The Affair”), Matthew Delamater (“Castle Rock”), Max Casella (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Rhenzy Feliz (“Marvel’s Runaways”), Ivan Leung (“The Disappearance of Mrs. Wu”), Briana Middleton (“3:35 to Boston”), and newcomer Daniel Ranieri.