Braintree Gets a Close Up in George Clooney’s “The Tender Bar”

Braintree gets her Hollywood close-up… playing a small town in North Carolina.

Replacing Rockingham, North Carolina, Braintree serves as the backdrop to the climax of “The Tender Bar”, the coming-of-age drama directed by George Clooney and starring Ben Affleck and Tye Sheridan of Cambridge.

The film was released in theaters, but not on the South Shore, on December 17, and will air from January 7 on Amazon Prime. Affleck stars as a literary bartender who is the father figure of his nephew, JR, played as a child by newcomer Daniel Ranieri and as an adult by Sheridan (“Ready Player One”).

Lily Rabe and Ben Affleck in a scene from "The tender bar."

The story spans 15 years, starting in 1973, when JR, a precocious 9-year-old, and his single mother (Lily Rabe, “The Undoing”) reluctantly return to their childhood home with his father. (Christopher Lloyd) and extended family. It takes place mainly in New York and Connecticut, with Massachusetts doubling for the working class Long Island and New Haven. Locations include a bowling alley in Wakefield, Lesley University in Cambridge, a baseball field at Bemis Park in Watertown, the South End Buttery in Boston, the former high school building of commerce in downtown Worcester.

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Affleck has just made an impressive turn in Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel” and is generating Oscar buzz for his performance as Uncle Charlie, the charismatic bartender. He won a Golden Globe nomination last month, calling his role in the film “deeply lucky.”

Team members take a break and switch on their phones between filming of the Tender Bar at a house on Calvin Street in Braintree on Wednesday, April 14, 2021.

“Every once in a while something big happens in your life and you hope that you are ready and able to take advantage of it,” he said in a virtual press conference held on December 13 with Sheridan, Rabe, Lloyd, Ranieri, Briana Middleton. , screenwriter William Monahan and producer Grant Heslov.

Filming began in February and ended in mid-April after filming in an area near South Shore Plaza. Clooney spent two days filming indoor and outdoor scenes at 45 Calvin Street, with an old Pontiac guzzler parked outside the house of JR’s estranged father (Max Martini). The confrontation between JR and his father is central to the story.

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“The Tender Bar” is based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author JR Moehringer’s 2005 memoir about a bartender (Affleck) who takes his father’s orphan nephew under his wing. “This is a guy who loves his family and loved his family,” said Monahan, a Dorchester native and UMass.-Amherst graduate who also wrote the Martin Scorsese crime drama, “The Departed, “which was filmed in Boston and Quincy.

Ben Affleck and Tye Sheridan in a scene from "The tender bar," which was filmed in several towns in Massachusetts, including Braintree.

Besides Grandpa’s house in Lowell, the other central setting is the Jacobs Corner Bar & Grill in Beverly, which has been converted into the fictional The Dickens pub, named after the English writer, where Affleck serves whiskey and wisdom. He said he recognized his own father a lot in Charlie.

“My dad was self-taught, didn’t go to college, but was very interested in language and storytelling,” Affleck said. “He imbued me from an early age with an interest in it. You didn’t have to be a fancy person or a wealthy person or have gone to a cool school to use and understand the language well. The power of storytelling is democratically accessible to all. “

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“The Tender Bar” is a reunion between Affleck and Clooney, who worked together as producers on “Argo,” which won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2013.

FITCHBURG - Ben Affleck is filming scenes from The Tender Bar on Cage St. in Fitchburg on Thursday, April 8, 2021.

Clooney, he said, “created this extremely welcoming, safe and beautiful atmosphere where you felt you could be successful and take risks. One of his many gifts is his deep understanding (and) his tremendous affinity and fondness for actors.

“I understand he always sees himself as this guy showing up in LA, sleeping on (production partner) Grant Heslov’s couch. And he’s going to try to make it happen, knowing how difficult it is, how much doubt is involved in it.

“He’s very generous and gives that to everyone. I feel that my performance has benefited from his experience, his wisdom, his talent and his generosity.

The script also gives Affleck another chance to show his loyalty to his beloved Red Sox on the big screen.

Daniel Ranieri, left, and Ben Affleck in a scene from "The tender bar."

During a phone conversation in a first scene of “The Tender Bar”, a young JR (Ranieri) tells his deadbeat dad (Martini) that he prefers to get tickets to the Mets game because “Uncle Charlie says the Yankees are **** * s too. “

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The camera shifts to Affleck, nodding slyly in his approval of the boy’s proclamation.

By the way, this isn’t the first time Affleck has launched a cinematic strike against the Sox’s hated rivals. In 2014, he got into an argument with “Gone Girl” director David Fincher over wearing a Yankees cap to a scene. The line stopped production for four days. He ended up settling for a neutral New York Mets hat.

So it’s Affleck 2, Yankees, 0.

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Contact Dana Barbuto at [email protected]

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