Categories: Movies17 Comments
March 2, 2008

Johnny Depp, aka John Dillinger in the Universal film “Public Enemies,” is hitting Crown Point this spring reportedly to reprise the gangster’s bold 1934 escape from Lake County Jail.

The scene will be shot on location at the Old Sheriff’s House and Jail, 226 S. Main St., sources said. Universal declined to comment on specifics.

The front part of the Second Empire-style building housed the top cop in Dillinger’s era. The back holds the cells from which the bank robber fled in broad daylight.

dillinger-jail.jpgDates for the Crown Point shoot are under wraps. But director Michael Mann has targeted the old Lake County Criminal Court, 220 S. Main St., as his headquarters during a three-day stay. Reborn the Hall of Justice Bar and Ballroom in the early 1990s, the jail’s neighbor will host up to 200 actors, crew members and technicians.

“Hollywood’s coming to Crown Point,” said Philip Struebig, co-owner of the Hall of Justice. “It’s going to be a heck of a thing for Crown Point. It will put us back on the map.”

He is banking on hosting a reception for three-time Oscar nominee Depp, 44, during the shoot. “We’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll,” he said.

Work crews arrived Monday to prep the red-brick jail for its close-up. By Thursday, a dozen tradesmen were measuring timber on sawhorses for a new drop ceiling and walls. The chug of a portable generator and buzz of a circular saw all but drowned out jokes about tommy guns.

“I wish we could say (the restoration) will be complete, but it’ll be mostly the entry and upstairs,” Universal location scout George Constas said Thursday.

The Depression-era cells — one which housed Dillinger — are rating kid-glove treatment. The restoration team will make them “look pretty, but not too pretty” for the period drama. “It’ll just look like a jail,” said Constas, standing in the gutted foyer. “Concrete and bars.”

Indiana native Dillinger escaped the heavily guarded jail March 3, 1934, by brandishing a gun. Some say it was real gun smuggled into him; some say it was hand-carved.

He then embarrassed local authorities by driving off in Sheriff Lillian Holley’s new V-8 Ford. The nonprofit Sheriff’s House Foundation oversees the registered landmark today.

Philip and Cynthia Jo Struebig, who purchased the courthouse in 1990, said they met with Mann before Christmas to discuss local Dillinger sites that might be incorporated into the film. The “Miami Vice” producer toured the old courthouse, admiring the “Victory of Law Through Justice” mural before which Dillinger was arraigned, then inspected the jail.

Mann also borrowed a book and vintage photos of Public Enemy No. 1 from the Struebigs’ collection of gangster memorabilia that adorns the Speakeasy Restaurant and Great Escape lounge within the Hall of Justice Bar. When they bought the old courthouse, “it was deteriorated. It was raining in the ballroom. We restored it as a labor of love. Never did I expect something like this would happen,” Philip Struebig said.

Based on the book by Bryan Burrough, the crime drama will bow in 2009. The cast includes Christian Bale as G-man Melvin Purvis, who ambushed Dillinger outside Chicago’s Biograph Theatre a few months after he fled the “escape-proof” Lake County Jail. Oscar winner Marion Cotillard, who collected best actress honors for her role as Edith Piaf in “La Mome,” has been tapped as Billie Frechette, the gangster’s lover and companion. “Public Enemies” will be filmed from March through June in Chicago, Indiana and Wisconsin.

Extra, extra!
Casting agent Joan Philo has issued an all-points bulletin for male reporters and photographers to play paid extras in scenes slated for Hammond, Gary and Crown Point. Also, an open casting call for men, women and children will be Saturday at Lane Tech High School in Chicago. See the Chicago Scene column in the ontheGo section for details.

Source: Times Online

  • Mar 03Sarah saunders says:  

    Good luck with the new movie JOHNNY

  • Mar 03Mina says:  

    I’m sure (like always) he is going to rock!!

  • Mar 03Michelle says:  

    Good luck filming Johnny!

  • Mar 04Spenner says:  

    Good luck with all your filming Johnny!

  • Mar 04Sarah saunders says:  

    IT will be an awesome movie to watch

  • Mar 04Kate Thompson says:  

    Are there any parts that need an actress? MY friends and I would really like to try out for a part, even if it is only the role of an extra. When in Wisconsin would aditions be?

  • Mar 04Melanie says:  

    Man I wish I was in Wiscounsin!….anyway break a leg Johnny! I know the movie will be awesome!

  • Mar 06allison says:  

    go johnny!! i’ll be waiting for another fanastic movie(as always) #1 fan of course i love you!!!

  • Mar 07Amanda says:  

    Oh wow! I live only 5 minutes from there! It’s in my hometown!!!

  • Mar 07Nate says:  


    This is going to be really interesting…I live here and I have a feeling Crown Point is going to become very busy when he gets here…

  • Mar 10Tammy says:  

    I love johnny! He is just the living end! I am definitely your #1 fan. He is my most favorie actor in the world! I love to watch johnny’s movies. His movies are my #1 movies I like to watch. He is the handsomest man in the world!

  • Mar 10Sabrah says:  

    Rated R probably? I wonder if I could convince my parents to let me see it. Oh, well. Good Luck Johnny!! I hope I can see this movie.

  • Mar 10kRySzHoHnNy says:  

    gud luck in your filming JOHNNY !!!!
    i’m 100% sure that the movie would do very great !!!
    all i could say to JOHNNY DEPP is AMAZING !!!
    GOD BLESS!!!

  • Mar 11j says:  

    he’s officially in crown point this week. they’ve been working on the old jailhouse and he was seen with a police escort eating at the conservative cafe right off of the square and at the great escape.

  • Mar 11j says:  

    he’s officially in crown point this week and was seen in the downtown area eating at a local cafe with police escorts. they’ve been working day and night on the old jailhouse and vans have been parked outside since last week.

  • Mar 12rosalinda says:  

    Hi Johnny! I’m Jasmina from Smederevo in Serbia. I just dont know what to say. I love your movies,but wath I willy like about you,is your personality. You are greate! I dont love you becouse you are actor,i love you becouse you are so sinply. You are not like the other actors,you are greate person. You are good man,you have good soul. In september 28,I will have 18 years,and mine big wish is to recive your e-mail,call,i wont to much. I dont know very well english,but i hope that you will understand wath i write you from my heart. With LOVE Jasmina. Call me 99381644696061

  • Mar 13Lexie says:  

    Wow, okay.

    #1. Phil is NOT holding a reception for Johnny.
    #2. They are staying for FIVE days.
    #3. Johnny isn’t in crown point yet.

    My mom works at the great escape, which is where they’re doing the filming and stuff.

    So yeah.

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