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AMC’s ‘Invitation to a Bonfire’ has been filming in New Bedford

In New Bedford, an 1855 grand Italianate, The Whalehouse, has been the site of filming for a new AMC series.Laura Parrish

In the center of the Venn diagram of Vladimir Nabokov, Marvel’s “She-Hulk,” and “Game of Thrones” sits “Invitation to a Bonfire.”

The upcoming AMC thriller series is based on Adrienne Celt’s 2018 psychological thriller of the same name, and stars “She-Hulk” actress Tatiana Maslany, also executive producer, according to the Wrap. Also in the cast are Pilou Asbæk — who played Euron Greyjoy on HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” and Freya Mavor of HBO’s “Industry.”

Celt’s novel is inspired by the “Lolita” author’s marriage to Vera Nabokov. According to Deadline, the TV adaptation, set in the 1930s at an all-girls boarding school in New Jersey, follows Zoya (Mavor), “a young Russian immigrant and groundskeeper, who is drawn into a lethal love triangle with the school’s newest faculty member — an enigmatic novelist, Leo (Asbæk) — and his bewitching wife (Maslany).”

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Playing the role of boarding school? An 1855 grand Italianate known as The Whalehouse, a New Bedford vacation rental. Once rented by Herman Melville’s sister, the property now belongs to Laura Parrish, a Duxbury native who purchased it eight years ago.

“They’re at our house filming until the end of November, and will be back in January to film through February,” Parrish said in a recent phone interview. “They were filming here last week; I think they were filming some kind of love scene at night.”

Parrish and her husband, Tom Lavin, typically winter in the house and rent it out via Airbnb and other sites in the summer.

Aside from The Whalehouse on Madison Street, filming has taken place on William Street and a lot of the streets across from the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Parrish said. “They set up a lot of the buildings with hand-painted signs. ... All the streets are cobblestone, so it fit right in.”

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The cobblestoned area of downtown New Bedford was made over for period filming, Parrish said. (It started in mid-October, according to the city’s Facebook page, and The Standard-Times; crews returned more recently, according to the city’s WBSM.)

Meanwhile, “Bonfire” also filmed at the Elm Bank Reservation on the Wellesley/Dover/Natick line, according to The Swellesley Report. And filming has taken place in Dover and Randolph, with future shoots set to take place in Cambridge, North Andover, and other towns in the Greater Boston and South Coast areas, according to boston.com.

The project rounds out an epic 2022 filming season for Hollywood East, from Keira Knightley in “Boston Strangler,” which shot scenes in Boston, Belmont, Braintree, Lowell, Lynn, and Malden, to Zendaya in Boston for “Challengers,” to Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro,” which filmed at Tanglewood.

Parrish said the Whalehouse was scouted “back in March. A location scout popped a letter under the door and asked if we’d be interested. I’ve had other film shoots — for “20/20,” A&E, Discovery ID. They put us on the shortlist. Then over the next month-and-a-half, they had folks out from LA. [We couldn’t talk about it until] basically they started filming. It’s been pretty surreal.”

One reason why her house might have been picked? “It has this beautiful solarium. There’s a moment in the book [that features a greenhouse]. So I think that went into their choice.”

Parrish has been at the house “every day they’ve filmed. I think a lot of people feel this way when they own an old house — you imagine what it would look like back in the day. So it was incredible to watch the house a-flurry with people that looked like they were from the 1920s and 1930s. It was like a time-traveling machine.”

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Lauren Daley can be reached at ldaley33@gmail.com. She tweets @laurendaley1.


Lauren Daley can be reached at ldaley33@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @laurendaley1.