With Roberts, Hollywood comes to Yale

It’s official — Yale’s gone Hollywood.

On Nov. 1, actress Julia Roberts, along with co-stars Kirsten Dunst and Julia Stiles, will arrive on campus to film scenes for their upcoming movie, “Mona Lisa Smile.” With major stars, the film may break a recent string of unsuccessful Yale-themed movies — the box-office disaster “The Skulls,” the straight-to-video sequel “The Skulls 2″ and the made-for-television movie “Porn ‘n Chicken.”

“Mona Lisa Smile,” set to open next year, stars Roberts as a University of California at Berkeley graduate who moves to the East Coast in 1953 to teach art history at Wellesley College. Yale will serve only as a filming location and is not mentioned in the movie.

Scenes will be filmed primarily in Silliman College and in Sterling Memorial Library. Filming will take place on Nov. 1 only, and the scenes in Sterling Memorial Library will be shot after normal closing hours.

“In considering this request, the priority was to ensure that the academic enterprise would not be disrupted,” University Secretary Linda Lorimer said in a press release.

Fifteen students who live in Silliman or are members of the Yale Dramat will be selected to serve as production assistants during filming.

“We have worked with the production company to provide at least some students with the opportunity,” University Associate Secretary Donald Filer said in a press release.

Ted Rounsaville ’03, president of the Yale Dramat, said Dramat members will be picked for the positions on a first-come, first-served basis.

“The reason for that is that being a production assistant on a film isn’t really a skilled position,” Rounsaville said. “I’m sure it’ll just be getting coffee and stuff like that.”

Students may also apply through the film’s casting agency to be extras in the movie.

Although students will only be able to play a minimal role in the film’s production, it can still be a valuable experience for them, Rounsaville said.

“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “It’s a great way to get a little peek into the process. There are a lot of people on campus who want to go into acting, and that extends beyond just stage acting.”

According to the press release, the New Haven and Connecticut governments have been trying to attract more film crews to the area, touting the area’s experienced production crews and proximity to New York City.

“Yale is pleased to help in the state’s and the city’s efforts to increase New Haven’s attractiveness as a desirable filming location,” Lorimer said in the press release.

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