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J. EDGAR

Young Hoover
Imagine if every citizen in the country was uniquely identifiable with their own card and number, say, the pattern on their fingers. Imagine how quickly they could be found when they committed a crime.

J. Edgar Hoover lived his entire life in Washington, D.C. But as the filmmakers began scouting for the production, "it occurred to us that we could film almost everything in California,” Lorenz says. "There was only one element that we knew we'd absolutely have to go back to Washington for, and that was the Library of Congress. I was familiar with it, but had never really taken a close look. So when I saw it in the script, and did a little research, I realized why Lance Black chose that location for the scene where Hoover is trying to impress Helen Gandy. It's just a magnificent piece of architecture.”

"It's such an impressive place, you want to photograph it,” Eastwood shares. "The moment we walked in and looked up, we knew we'd have to try for it, for whatever part of it they'd make available to us.”

Despite the fact that the building is open to the public, production designer James J. Murakami was pleasantly surprised by the access granted to the production. "It's just a grand, beautiful building. It was amazing, the historical significance, especially considering why we were there. The files under the mezzanine actually contained cards with Hoover's handwritten notations on them.”

Other doors that opened for the filmmakers were those to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as the Department of Justice, where the FBI was housed throughout Hoover's tenure. Lorenz recalls, "The FBI and DOJ were very cooperative and helped us to see all that Hoover saw during his time. We probably could have gotten permission to film in Hoover's offices if it weren't for the fact that we had so much to shoot there. It would have been too much of a burden on them to use the space for as long as we needed it. But we did shoot from his balcony in order to get the integral point of view shots that we required.”

In order to convey to a movie audience Hoover's perspective from his office overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue, visual effects supervisor Michael Owens and his team stepped in to create period versions of the street at different times, including inaugural motorcades of two presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon.

"The period look came from our research,” Owens relates. "We photographed the real locations and then modified them. Modeling, texturing and building a lot of these environments in the computer allowed us to create a look much more easily than building a whole set.”

To replicate the places Hoover spent much of his time, Murakami and his team built practical sets, such as the vast hallway and several offices of the DOJ, on cavernous Stage 16 at the Warner Bros. Studios lot. "The main corridor alone was 13 feet wide, with 18-foot ceilings, and had to be about 120 feet long to accommodate the action.”

But that wasn't the designer's biggest challenge. "The terrazzo flooring at the DOJ couldn't be recreated using the very expensive real materials, so we ultimately decided to do it using a new digital method. We photographed the real floor, and then printed it onto MDF board.”

Murakami did extensive research in order to recreate the offices on the soundstages, which had to be adjusted to suit each of the different eras covered in the film, spanning from 1919 to the early 1970s. The design department accomplished this by focusing on the details that would naturally have been updated over time, such as light fixtures that evolved from incandescent to fluorescent.

"We took liberties where we had to, but tried to make everything look and feel as authentic as possible,” he says. Several sets his team built doubled for others with a new coat of paint, different furnishings, repositioned walls, and so forth. For example, the set for Robert Kennedy's office became a smaller bureau office, and was then repurposed as the crime lab.

Hoover's house, which he lived in all of his life, was a key set for the production, as many of the film's critical scenes take place in his home. With regard to dressing the various rooms, Murakami says, "He collected everything. His house was filled with tchotchkes, including a lot of Chinese statues and screens, and many things that had been in his family since he was a child.” For scenes in which Hoover and Tolson attend the horse races—both as young and old men—the creative team reviewed video of the Pimlico track in Baltimore, Maryland, and Del Mar in Southern California, then reproduced a section of tiered box seats, making adjustments for the differing looks of each location as needed. Director of photography Tom Stern used medium and tight shots on the actors as they "watched” the races, with a green screen behind them that would allow for a CGI background of the appropriate environment integrated with footage of the different races.

Off the lot, various Los Angeles locations stood in for some of the story's locales. The Cicada Restaurant, located downtown near Pershing Square, served as New York's famed Stork Club. The scene called for a band, so the director called upon son Kyle Eastwood and several of his musician friends to perform what would be the only live music in the film.

Elsewhere around town, the men's department of Garfinkel's was recreated in a portion of a downstairs ballroom of the historic Park Plaza Hotel. The hotel also became the site of the United States Senate Chambers. Olvera Street's Pico Building was transformed into the Kansas City Railroad Station.

For the scenes involving the Bruno Hauptmann trial, the production traveled a short distance south of L.A. The old Orange County courthouse in Santa Ana, which was built in the early 1900s and which is now a museum, matched almost perfectly to the New Jersey courtroom where the trial had taken place. The exteriors for that scene, however, were shot in front of a quaint courthouse in the town of Warrenton, about 40 miles outside of D.C. The Plains, also on the outskirts of the nation's capital, provided the perfect environment for the Lindbergh estate, and the architecture of certain neighborhoods in Arlington, Virginia, offered the right look and feel for other exteriors in the film.

"Every single scene was something new, calling for a new set, a new time period,” Lorenz recounts. "But if there's anybody that could do it, it's Jim. He and his team, along with Michael Owens' crew, really understand how to fit all the pieces of a puzzle together.”

INT. HOOVER'S OUTER OFFICE, REVEAL: standing across the room behind a mahogany desk is a stout old man with a mashed-in nose, wearing a three-piece suit. This is Hoover, almost 40 years later, now J. EDGAR HOOVER.

"J. Edgar” takes place over the course of more than six decades, from the early 1900s to 1972, requiring the costume designer, Deborah Hopper, to create costumes that captured the changing times. Leonardo DiCaprio alone had almost 80 costume changes, which presented quite an exciting challenge to Hopper and her team.

"Hoover himself was impeccable,” Hopper observes. "Even though he didn't have as many clothes early on in his career, he was always professional looking and meticulous, and he insisted his agents be the same. He had a certain image in mind for the FBI.”

Producing costumes for such a large cast and expansive timeline took a great deal of planning. "At least some part of the story takes place in almost e

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