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Ben Affleck’s film ‘Live By Night’ comes to North End

It won’t take much to turn back the clock in picturesque Margaret Street to the 1920s.Steve Annear/Globe Staff

Residents on a steep side street in the North End went about their business as usual Monday as crews, with drills buzzing and hammers knocking, installed awnings and other props for a movie shoot.

Margaret Street will have a new look and feel by week’s end. The neighborhood will be propelled back in time to the Prohibition era for Ben Affleck’s “Live by Night,” a crime drama based on the novel of the same name by Dorchester native Dennis Lehane.

In the movie, Joe Coughlin, the son of a Boston police captain, gets involved with the rum trade in Ybor City, Fla. Many scenes from the book take place in a crime-ridden Boston.

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Affleck will play Coughlin in the movie, which will also star Sienna Miller and Zoe Saldana.

Filming is scheduled to begin Friday and continue into Saturday.

As he walked to his dentist appointment, Alan Musson stopped to watch workers nailing slats of wood over an abandoned storefront at the corner of Margaret and Prince streets.

“I think it’s great. If they film all the time in Boston, it gives us exposure and jobs and money. I love it,” he said. “Plus, Ben Affleck’s great. Love the guy.”

Greg Sullivan and his girlfriend, Arielle Mullaney, snuck by as crews hung green awnings near their apartment.

Sullivan said it was the first he had heard about the movie coming to his neighborhood, but he was excited his street would become part of a Hollywood scene.

“It’s very cool,” he said.

With bags in hand, resident Sarah Forsythe trotted up Margaret Street to her front door. Stopping at the entrance, she peered down the road to watch the activity.

“It’ll be interesting,” said Forsythe. “I’d love a Ben Affleck sighting.”

Margaret Street was also featured in “Black Mass,” the film about notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, starring Johnny Depp, so residents there have grown accustomed to the Hollywood aura.

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“It’s our little claim to fame,” said Forsythe.

Besides the storefront transformations — the sign for the Corner Cafe came down Monday — residents and visitors can expect to see horses, carriages, cars from the 1920s, and fruit carts.

Parking restrictions will be in place in the North End around the areas of Prince and Commercial streets as work continues.

Affleck began shooting scenes for his new movie in Lawrence last week. Filming will continue there through Nov. 23.

“Live By Night” marks the second time that Affleck has turned one of Lehane’s books into a big budget movie. In 2007, Affleck directed “Gone, Baby, Gone,” about two detectives searching for a missing toddler in Boston.


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.