A Gettysburg hotel's view of a historic cemetery reportedly sealed the deal for a movie production crew looking for a filming location.
AWP Productions visited Gettysburg last week to shoot scenes for "The Dinner," a movie based on Herman Koch's novel of the same title starring Richard Gere and Steve Coogan. The actors, who play brothers in the movie, filmed scenes at Gettysburg National Military Park and Gettysburg Comfort Suites, which offers a view of Gettysburg National Cemetery.
"They acted just like you and I," said hotel front desk manager Francine Fosdick. "It wasn't the persona of 'I'm better than you,' or 'Please get out of my way.' They were just doing their job."
The film crew contacted the hotel about two months ago about possibly shooting scenes, and "the backdrop of the cemetery - that's what really hit them," Fosdick said. The film is an American remake of a movie shot in Amsterdam several years ago, she said.
"They thought that Gettysburg would be the perfect place to do it," she said.
When hotel staff learned Gere and Coogan were involved, they were gobsmacked.
"We were like, 'You've got to be kidding! You're in Gettysburg?'" Fosdick said. "It was just the talk of our hotel staff."
The crew prepped for their scenes Jan. 21 and spent the next day shooting until about 5 p.m.
The scenes filmed at the hotel include a shot of Gere walking down the hallway of the second floor, banging on a door and asking for Coogan, Fosdick said. They also filmed a scene outside the hotel of the actors in a vehicle and another scene in a hotel room.
Sales Manager Cindy Rohrbaugh said for the hotel room scene, the crew covered the walls with striped wallpaper and added old-fashioned lamps, red curtains and bed skirts, giving it a "more red, white and blue" appearance. The movie flashes back to the brothers visiting Gettysburg eight years ago, she said, adding that Gere plays some type of politician, and Coogan plays a history professor.
The hotel room scene included one of the actors busting a mirror, for which the crew reimbursed the hotel.
"They had the fake blood, the whole bit," Rohrbaugh said.
Prior to filming at the hotel, the crew shot scenes at Gettysburg National Military Park.
National Park Service spokesperson Katie Lawhon said the service issued a permit to AWP Productions for the crew to film a scene during which Gere and Coogan have a conversation regarding a book they are writing about the Civil War.
Rohrbaugh said in the film, the brothers don't like each other much.
"The reason they chose Gettysburg... they're playing on the brother-against-brother thing of the Civil War," Rohrbaugh said.
The cast and crew stayed at Wyndham Gettysburg for two nights, Director of Sales and Marketing Hans Schreiber confirmed. Staff told Schreiber they didn't really see them much.
"They slipped and slipped out," he said.
At Comfort Suites, no hotel guests chased after the handsome actors for autographs or photos, but Gere and Coogan did snap photos with the hotel staff.
"They were just normal people," Fosdick said. "I think the crew thought it was funny how taken we were with having stars here, because they work with them all the time."
It's likely the day on set is an experience the staff won't forget.
"It was really neat," Fosdick said. "We had cameras and screens and lighting everywhere. It was exciting."