CBS drama tied to Spielberg, King being filmed in Wilmington
Posted June 10, 2013
Updated June 12, 2013
Wilmington, N.C. — “Under the Dome,” an upcoming CBS drama based on a Stephen King novel and produced by Steven Spielberg, is being filmed in Wilmington. WRAL News was given a sneak peek of the 13-episode series, which premieres June 24.
The show is set in the small town of Chester’s Mill, Maine, which has become trapped under an enormous, transparent dome. Residents try to survive the “post-apocalyptic conditions while searching for answers to what the barrier is, where it came from and when it will go away,” according to CBS.
The show and its special effects are produced at a massive warehouse inside EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, a 15,000-square-foot, 50-acre film and television production complex with 10 sound stages and two special effects water tanks.
“It’s really got a feel of one of those intense cable shows, but we’re doing it on CBS,” said Dean Norris, who plays James “Big Jim” Rennis, a town councilman and owner of Chester’s Mill’s used car dealership. “I think it’s a combination of ‘Twin Peaks’ and ‘Lost.’ It’s the small-town weirdness of ‘Twin Peaks’ … and it’s got the ‘Lost’ feel in that you’re stranded.”
Norris is best known for playing Agent Hank Schrader on the TV series “Breaking Bad.” “Under the Dome” is the first show he’s filmed in Wilmington.
“First of all, I love Wilmington,” he said. “It has great restaurants, people are cool, (and) it’s got a nice vibe to it. I’m enjoying my stay here.”
Like most actors, Nicolas Strong calls Los Angeles home, but Wilmington has become a refreshing retreat as he plays Phil Bushey, an eccentric indy rock devotee who runs the local Chester’s Mill radio station. Strong has appeared on shows such as “Nashville” and “The Office.” Now in Wilmington, he says it’s all about the food and fun.
“I’m going to eat some barbecue, going to have some drinks, go for a swim, go to work. I’m going to hang out and then rinse and repeat. It’s great. I love it here,” Strong said.
The actors have taken up temporary residence in Wilmington since March and will continue filming through the end of July. The only "Under the Dome" main actor with a North Carolina connection is Britt Robertson, a Charlotte native who plays Angie, a feisty waitress at the local diner.
“I love being able to have sweet tea every day of the week. I also love being close to my family,” Robertson said. “(My family members) want to come up and see me all the time. They want to be extras on the show.”
While acting might seem like a glamorous profession, the cast and crew say they often work 12- to 14-hour days and can spend anywhere from four to seven days shooting an episode.
“It takes a lot of energy but, at the end of the day, that’s why we all love it. That’s why we’re here,” Robertson said.
When WRAL News visited the set, Angie, played by Robertson, was being held against her will in a bunker by Junior, played by Alexander Koch, who is making his TV debut in “Under the Dome.”
“It’s been a whirlwind, and it’s been great,” Koch said. “Once I got the script, I was like, ‘This is unbelievable. This is my dream come true.’”
Rachelle LeFevre, who is best known for her villain vampire role of Victoria in the first two installments of “The Twilight Saga,” plays reporter Julia Shumway.
“The dome comes down and, immediately, her first thing is, the journalist kicks in. Where did it come from? What is it made of? How long is it going to be here? Who’s responsible?” LeFevre said. “What’s really interesting is the contrast between her reaction and everyone else’s. Everyone else seems to be very emotional about it, ‘Oh my God … is this an act of God? What does it all mean?’ And she isn’t looking for meaning, she’s looking for answers.”
LeFevre says she hopes viewers will identify with the characters and ask themselves, “Who would I be? What would I do in that situation?”