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Big-name actors Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates in Concord, Charlotte area to film new movie

Updated: May. 30, 2021 at 11:23 PM EDT
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CONCORD, N.C. (WBTV) - Old cars, models from the 1970s and late 60s, were lined up along Union Street in downtown Concord on Sunday.

The setting was 1970s New York.

Except, the filming scene was in Concord.

Hollywood has brought A-list celebrities to the Charlotte area to film a feature film, one based on a 1970 Judy Blume novel.

On Sunday, actresses Rachel McAdams, from films like Mean Girls, Wedding Crashers, and The Notebook, among other blockbusters, and Kathy Bates, a multiple Emmy and Academy Award winner, were in the Charlotte suburb filming a scene for the movie “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.”

The film, which is expected to be released in 2022, also stars Benny Safdie and 13-year-old Abby Ryder Fortson, who were also in Concord filming this weekend. The movie is directed by Kelly Fremon Craig.

“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” started filming in the Charlotte area in early April and will wrap up filming in late June.

Scenes have been shot in Charlotte, Concord, Kannapolis and Hickory.

The Lionsgate feature is an adaptation of Judy Blume’s classic novel “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” which was first published in 1970.

A-list celebs Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates in Concord, Charlotte area to film new movie
A-list celebs Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates in Concord, Charlotte area to film new movie(WBTV)

The story follows Margaret Simon (Abby Ryder Fortson), a sixth-grader who is questioning everything about adolescence and puberty and is searching the universe for whatever she can find.

According to the plot, Margaret’s mother (Rachel McAdams), grandmother (Kathy Bates) and father (Benny Safdie) are trying to guide Margaret “through a time when everything is changing, and they too find that you never stop questioning your path and defining what is meaningful in your life.”

More than 1,000 extras were used in the Charlotte-area filming, including about 85 in Concord on Sunday.

Annette Grimsley, from Stanley, N.C., said her 1969 Firebird is being used in the filming, along with her husband’s 1971 Chevelle.

“My niece sent us a little article about extras and it had a mention about vehicles from the 60s and 70s era, so we sent in an email with pictures of our different cars that we have, which we have a big collection. They responded back with which cars they wanted,” Grimsley said. “I think it is exciting. It is fun. We’ve filmed several different shots. It has been a fun experience.”

Downtown Concord was dressed up in a 1970s setting in New York City.

Along Union Street, there was an Italian Bakery, a Pizza shop and a produce stand. The prices of the products even matched what it was in the 1970s.

“I just wanted to see how they had changed the front of the stores,” said Denny Kempen, who had been an extra in the 1996 movie “Eddie.” “I’ve been taking pictures of the stores to see how it changed.”

Sydney Freeze and Oliver Yih, who lives down the street from the filming on Union Street, were one of the first to check out the scene Sunday.

Union Street was closed from 7 a.m. Sunday until just after midnight Monday.

“I think it is awesome to see an older look to Concord,” Yihe said. “That’s something we’ve really loved about old towns. It is cool to see this here with all of the old cars and old storefronts, and everything.”

“I think it is important for Concord because when you hear Charlotte, people don’t think about Concord or surrounding areas,” Freeze said. “For Concord to have big stars out here like Kathy Bates or Rachel McAdams, that kind of brings in more things to Concord and gets the word out about Union Street. It is important publicity for them.”

Audrey Sprinkle and Karen Hanzlik were just taking their morning walk when they saw the Hollywood stars in their backyard.

“We saw Rachel McAdams, and that may be the highlight of my life,” Sprinkle said. “They got out of a car and they did a little scene.”

The actors filmed one scene in Concord for most of Sunday.

They will continue to film within the Charlotte area for the next month or so.

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