Jail plays a role in Russell Crowe movie

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Hollywood arrived yesterday at the Allegheny County Jail, the latest filming location for Paul Haggis' "The Next Three Days" for Lionsgate.

The film follows the extreme measures of a professor to free from jail his wife, who claims to have been wrongly accused of murder. Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks ("W." and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno") play the leading roles.

Shooting began outdoors in the morning and continued inside the Second Avenue facility with Crowe's character going to visit his wife. Filming in and around the jail continues today.

James J. Donis, jail major, said the two-day shoot at the jail evolved from "months of conversations and weeks of preparations."

The jail plays an important role in the film, but Haggis said it was the city itself that influenced him to write the approximately 380-scene screenplay around Pittsburgh's landscape -- an unusual practice since most films' screenplays are written before shooting locations are selected.

"There isn't a neighborhood we're not in," he said, listing the Port Authority trolley, the Hill District and Regent Square as other locations.

"The Next Three Days" is one of three movies being filmed around Pittsburgh this fall. The others: "Love and Other Drugs" featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway and Josh Gad, and "Unstoppable" starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine.

With all this filming fanfare in one place, locals longing for a few minutes on the silver screen have had the chance to be extras or have small roles in the films.

Maj. Donis is one of them.

"I get to play myself and question the main character on security issues."

Sara Bauknecht can be reached at 1-412-263-3858 or sbauknecht@post-gazette.com


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