Actors, directors bring business to Windy City
Many of Chicago’s native sons and daughters have returned home to produce, shoot or act after they’ve made their mark in Hollywood.
John Cusack, who was born in suburban Evanston and attended the local Piven Theater Workshop (founded by stage actor Ben Piven, father of Jeremy), worked with high school friends and New Crime production partners Steve Pink and D.V. DeVincentis to adapt Nick Hornby’s popular novel “High Fidelity” and relocate the story to their native Chicago in 2000. He also returned in ’05 to shoot “The Ice Harvest” and again in ’07 for “Grace Is Gone.”
Vince Vaughn grew up in nearby Lake Forest and has returned often to shoot projects in the area, including “The Break-Up” opposite Jennifer Aniston in ’06, “Fred Claus” in ’07 and the recent “Couples Retreat,” which shot for several days in Chicago.
Michael Mann was born in Chicago. The director-producer-writer returned last year to shoot the Johnny Depp movie “Public Enemies” in and around the city. The production gave a huge boost to the local economy, spending some $47 million — a record for the state, according to the Illinois Film Office.
And although he was born in London, Batman director Chris Nolan is almost an adopted son, having spent most of his childhood in Chicago until he was 14, and attending Loyola Academy in the suburbs. In fact, it was Nolan who initially persuaded Warner Bros. to use Chicago rather than New York as a stand-in for Gotham City in ’05’s blockbuster reboot “Batman Begins.” That 18-day shoot was so successful that he returned to the city in ’08 for a full three months of shooting for the even bigger sequel, “The Dark Knight.”
Producer Bob Teitel (“Notorious,” “Barbershop”) is another Chicago-area native. He attended Columbia College, where he studied film and marketing and met his current business partner, George Tillman Jr. After graduating, they made a short, “Paula,” and then their first feature, 1995’s “Scenes for the Soul.” Both are set and shot in Chicago.
Teitel moved to L.A. in the mid-’90s, but regularly returns to shoot in the city, where he still maintains a home. Together, the team has made six films in Chicago to date, including the “Barbershop” franchise, “Soul Food,” “Roll Bounce” and “Nothing Like the Holidays.”