Downtown Boston traveled back in time on Monday as HBO Max filmed a pilot for a potential series based on the life of culinary icon Julia Child.
Film crews took over Union Oyster House for the day on Monday to film scenes for “Julia,” which was originally scheduled to begin production on March 17 before the pandemic hit.
The cookbook author, food television pioneer, and all-around gastronomic luminary lived in Cambridge for much of her life and frequented many area restaurants, including Union Oyster House. Owner Joe Milano told WHDH that he fondly remembered the late “French Chef” star’s visits during the 1970s.
“It was one of Julia’s favorite restaurants,” Milano said. “She loved oysters, seafood. She was kinda the renaissance lady.”
To fit the time period of the show, the interior of Union Oyster House was stripped of any present-day wall decorations or any other items that would be anachronistic.
HBO Max also parked a number of older cars outside the restaurant, including a vintage taxi.
Outside the restaurant, onlookers could see the pilot’s star, Sarah Lancashire (“Happy Valley”), who very much looked the part of the late chef, standing on Union Street with fellow actress Fiona Glascott (“Resident Evil”).
Beyond Boston, production this week also took place in Cambridge, where crews closed down part of Harvard Square on Sunday; and Waltham, where crews took over Wilson’s Diner on Tuesday.
HBO Max is filming in Harvard Square today for the upcoming Julia Child series set to premiere in 2021. We can’t wait! #HarvardSquare#CambMA#JuliaChild#wheresdenisetoday
Prior to this week, crews have filmed in Framingham, Malden, and Worcester.
A source involved with the production told Boston.com that crews will also film in Dedham, Lexington, and Lynn before production wraps in two weeks.
While HBO Max has yet to make a final decision on “Julia,” the source told Boston.com it’s now looking likely that HBO Max will pick up the pilot for a full series.
According to the source, COVID-19 has made filming take a bit tougher than usual with social distancing requirements set by the state, but crews have been more than adequately staffed. Around 100 people were involved in Monday’s shoot, including many local film professionals who had been out of work for months due to the pandemic.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, the source said that towns have been very happy to have film productions back, with local restaurants receiving hearty food orders from film crews and businesses receiving rental fees from HBO Max.
Along with Lancashire and Glascott, “Julia” stars David Hyde Pierce (“Frasier”) as Child’s husband Paul. The role was originally occupied by Tom Hollander, but the “Pride and Prejudice” star opted to stay in England rather than travel to the U.S. for filming after the pandemic hit, according to Deadline.
Daniel Goldfarb (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) is serving as the pilot’s writer, while Christopher Keyser (“Party of Five”) is the showrunner. Keyser had previously been scheduled to be back in Massachusetts for season two of his Netflix teen drama “The Society” before the streaming giant canceled it due to pandemic concerns.
“Julia” will also star Brittany Bradford (“Love in NY”), Fran Kranz (“The Cabin in the Woods”), and Bebe Neuwirth (“Cheers”).
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