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Sean Penn puts city in middle of Wild production

Filming takes over Beaverton restaurant for a couple of days
by: Submitted photo, Equipment fills the McCormick’s Fish House parking lot on the Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway Tuesday afternoon.

Actor/director Sean Penn was in town last week and Beaverton became a different city.

It became Atlanta. Sort of.

Penn is directing the feature film 'Into The Wild' for River Road Entertainment. It's the adaptation of Jon Krakauer's 1997 book about Emory University grad Christopher McCandless who in 1992 tossed away his possessions, hitchhiked to Alaska and lived in a school bus in the forbidding wilderness.

After a few months, he was found dead. Krakauer's book tells McCandless' story through a diary, notes and letters found in the dwelling.

Penn adapted Krakauer's book for the screenplay.

'Into The Wild' stars Emile Hirsch in the lead role, Vince Vaughn, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Zach Galifianakis and Catherine Keener.

Vaughn was in Beaverton three years ago filming 'Thumbsucker' with Lou Taylor Pucci, Tilda Swinton and Vincent D'Onofrio. That production used an Aloha house and local schools.

For a few hours Oct. 3 and 4, Beaverton's McCormick's Fish House on the Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway became a little bit of Atlanta (home of Emory University).

The movie's production company rented the restaurant for two days, using mostly the interior and the parking lot for scenes.

'It's not bad for us,' said Gregg LeBlanc of McCormick and Schmick's Seafood Restaurants in Portland. 'They did some advance scouting and it had the décor that they were looking for. No one's going to know it's our restaurant, except for people who have been there.

'I'm glad for the restaurant and for our staff there. It's like any other movie filmed in Portland. People will look at the scenery and say, 'Hey, I know that bridge.' '

Filming started Tuesday at the restaurant. The area was a clatter of big lights, electrical cables and crew members moving things around.

Inside, the McCormick's Fish House sported Atlanta Braves signs and other things that might be seen in Georgia.

Traffic was stopped a couple of times on the highway outside the restaurant while a scene was filmed in the parking lot.

It was the second time Penn and the production has been in Oregon. Several scenes were filmed in July on the Northern Oregon Coast near Astoria.

More filming is planned around Washington County in the next few days. The company also will film at Reed College, where it will use 700 extras.

'Into The Wild' is expected to be released next year.