'Ides of March' opens nationwide Friday; includes Oxford scenes

OXFORD — Shakespeare warned theatergoers to “beware the ides of march,” but Miami University staff, students and Oxford residents will have none of that.

They’re very eager to see “The Ides of March” — the political drama George Clooney shot partly at the university last March.

The school and the city of Cincinnati figure prominently in the movie, which opens nationwide Friday, Oct. 7.

Most of the scenes shot in Oxford take place within the first 20 minutes. Miami University’s Hall Auditorium is not only the setting for a debate between Democratic presidential candidates, but the university is mentioned by name, and the actors can be seen wearing Miami sweatshirts or drinking from MU coffee cups. Several interior scenes were shot at the Farmer School of Business.

Students and residents will get an early look at the movie when Oxford’s Great Escape Princess Theatre holds a midnight screening late today, Oct. 6, said general manager Joshua Mull. The movie will play in the theater’s largest auditorium, which seats 227.

“The buzz has been exceptional,” Mull said.

Ryan Gosling plays an idealistic staffer for a Pennsylvania governor (Clooney) who is a Democratic candidate for president. Along the campaign trail, however, Gosling’s character learns the governor has indiscretions — and he finds out the hard way about political double-dealing. The cast also includes Paul Giamatti as a manager for a rival candidate, Marisa Tomei as a hard-nosed reporter, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Clooney’s campaign manager, and Evan Rachel Wood as an intern who has an affair with Gosling.

Miami junior Ashleigh Achor saw some of these scenes being shot at the university, and also attended an early screening of the movie in Columbus.

“I thought the film was really good ... The thing I enjoyed the most about it was the controversy Ryan Gosling’s character developed. I thought it was interesting how he changed from somebody who wasn’t really interested in the background of politics and learns how it’s supposed to work, and how it does work.”

Watching a movie being filmed may be a rare experience — but seeing the campus on the big screen was another kind of experience entirely.

“It was definitely kind of surreal, I guess... especially since it opened with Miami shots. Right off the bat it’s getting to me, and I don’t even know the story yet.”

Achor’s friend, fellow student Mike Gospel, was a paid extra in the film. He appears in the opening debate scene.

“A friend from the improv club here told me to call a phone number, and that was all I’d have to do to get a spot as an extra.  I didn’t believe her, but I tried it, and I got a spot just like that,” he said.

“The process itself was the best part. I got to see, all on the same stage, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ryan Gosling, and Paul Giamatti, which was so cool. Being in on all the process and seeing all the behind the scenes work that has to get done was so interesting,” he added.

Claire Wagner, Miami’s public information officer, said about 200 people participated as extras during the shoot and about 60 worked behind the scenes. But whether people even saw the shoot or not, “the students the faculty, the staff and the community are very excited to see Miami University on the big screen,” she said.

Achor herself already plans to see the movie again so she can concentrate more on the story and less on recognizing familiar locations.

“Me and my friends are talking about watching George Clooney and Ryan Gosling all day before we go see it,” she said.

Contact this reporter at (513) 705-2836 or erobinette@coxohio.com.

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