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Movie tour guide spotlights cinematic Hub highlights

By Cindy Atoji Keene

What does an out-of-work Boston actor do between auditions? For Mariagrazia LaFauci, a recent Brown University theater arts graduate, the trend in film tourism has given her an outlet as a tour guide for day-trippers interested in experiencing Boston as a film set. “TV and movie viewers are fascinated with seeing the city’s hot spots of celluloid magic and visiting destinations that are depicted or appear in the movies,” said LaFauci, who leads visitors through over 30 cinematic Hub locations with On Location Tours, a company that started in New York with Sex and the City tours. “Filmmakers really love that Boston has such a unique flavor or character, from the accent to the attitude,” said LaFauci, 22.
LaFauci takes her tour guide role seriously, prepping for the role by watching over 70 movies that were filmed in Boston, including Mystic River, Fever Pitch, 21, Gone Baby, and Legally Blonde. The bus and walking tours stops at locations such as the L Street Tavern, home of Good Will Hunting; Jack Nicholson's mob hangout in The Departed; and the scene of the car crash in Blown Away. “Movies are a shared experience, and seeing Boston as a film set is really exciting for people,” said LaFauci.
Q: What’s your background as an actor?
A: I was involved in at least 30 productions at Brown and also have experience as a director, producer, dramaturge, and publicity manager for both film and theater. I’ve also acted for numerous local playhouses and companies.

Q: How do you use your acting background and experience to help lead these tours?
A: I think just being comfortable in front of an audience and feeling like you can entertain for hours is key. My best training comes from improv and clowning. I’m a small person who is very short – 5 feet – so knowing how to have a presence is very important.

Q: This is actually not your first time being a tour guide, correct?
A: My very first tours were leading open houses at Mount Saint Joseph Academy in Brighton. I was 14, and became the go-to person because they knew how much I enjoyed it. I have always been comfortable in front of people and like the sound of my own voice. At Brown, I also conducted admissions tours. One of the things I learned early on is that if you just smile a lot, listeners are more receptive to what you say and seem to drift off a little less.

Q: Where does the Boston movie bus tour go?
A: It’s a three-hour tour, so you see tons of the city, including Beacon Hill and the Back Bay. Not many tours go through Southie, so that’s really cool, with a stop for a drink where the characters from Goodwill Hunting hung out, and then through the North End, Charlestown, and all along the waterfront. You end at Cheers. For me, one of my favorite stops is the Moakley Courthouse, which is now one of my top places to go and sit and relax. Scenes from The Departed were filmed there.
Q: How are you ramping up your acting career in the meantime?
A: It’s all about auditioning and trying to get in there and meet people. I had an audition for a community theater production last week, and even though I didn’t get the role, to me, it’s fun – three minutes that you get to act.

Q: What’s your favorite movie or TV show filmed in Boston?
A: It’s a tie between Next Stop Wonderland and The Boondock Saints. Next Stop Wonderland was one of the movies I hadn’t heard of until I started working on the tours. I fell in love with the movie.

Q: What movie are you watching lately to brush up on your screen knowledge?
A: This weekend I plan to see Housesitter with Steve Martin. That was filmed at One Beacon Street.

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