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Public Enemies shoot scheduled for North Hearing Room at Wisconsin Capitol
Fans hoping to catch another glimpse of Johnny Depp may not be in luck at the Capitol.
Credit:Kristian Knutsen

After kicking off in Columbus and subsequently skipping around Wisconsin and points farther south, the big-budget '30s gangster epic film Public Enemies will be shooting in Madison over the first complete week in May. Wisconsin Assembly Sergeant at Arms Rick Skindrud confirmed today that the production will be shooting in the North Hearing Room in the Wisconsin Capitol on Wednesday, May 7.

Directed by UW alumnus Michael Mann, and starring Johnny Depp as John Dillinger and Christian Bale as the pursuing FBI agent Melvin Purvis, the Universal Pictures production has been attracting crowds of observers during its on-location shoots around the state, most recently last week in Oshkosh.

The Public Enemies crew will be setting up the North Hearing Room on Tuesday, May 6, with the shoot scheduled for the following day. Bathed in a warm natural glow pouring in stained-glass skylights, and bouncing off the yellow marble walls, the room is marked by a series of ceiling murals painted by Charles Yardley Turner in 1914-15.

"From what I am told, because it's an older-looking room, they're going to use it for a courtroom scene," says Skindrud. Like sites in Columbus, Oshkosh, and elsewhere around the state, the production has cited the period details and preservation of the Capitol's interior as a major appeal in selecting it as a location.

"They came more than a month ago asked if they could use the Capitol," says the Sergeant at Arms. "We allow many different groups to use it, so when they asked, I said they have to fill out an application. They did, and everything was proper, so we proceeded. We treated them absolutely no different than everybody else."

Since the shoot will be during a regular working day and no additional staff will be required, the production will not be charged anything for its use of the room, Skindrud continues, and the production will provide security to contain any observers outside the North Hearing Room.

Fans hoping to catch another glimpse of Johnny Depp may not be in luck at the Capitol, though. "I asked them specifically about Depp," notes Skindrud, "and they said he's not going to be there."

Another thing that won't be seen in the North Hearing Room is lit cigarettes, as were used in a shoot at the Lafayette County Courthouse in Darlington back in March. The production requested that smoking be permitted for the Capitol too. "They asked about it, and were turned flat down," Skindrud explains. "We said we have a law that does not allow smoking in the Capitol, and they said that doesn't matter because they have something fake that can create the same look. They know what they're doing."

This may not be the only Madison-based Public Enemies shoot scheduled during the first full week of May, meanwhile. Extras have reported getting calls for other days that week, and there are many other potential locations in town scouted for the production.

There have also been two more extras casting calls for Madison issued online recently; one last Friday seeks "real police officers." Another call issued Monday, meanwhile, offers more details

We are looking for men and women from the Madison area that would available for a 1-day shoot in the first week of May. We have lots of scenes where we need to cast male extras plus an exciting scene playing on Tuesday May 6th requiring a gangster-type who can drive stick. We are also looking for adult women of all ages, especially women with bleach blonde hair for a one day shoot.

Public Enemies is shooting this week in Manitowish Waters at the Little Bohemia Lodge, where a small fire briefly interrupted production on Tuesday night. Upcoming shoots in Wisconsin are also scheduled for Milwaukee, Columbus, and Beaver Dam.

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