Report: 'Hillbilly Elegy' Filming In Middletown Week Of Aug. 5

Jul 25, 2019

Director Ron Howard's adaptation of the memoir Hillbilly Elegy for Netflix will come to author J.D. Vance's hometown Aug. 5 to film for four days. Reporter Ed Richter of the Journal-News broke the story Thursday.

Andy Lipschultz from the production company said about 125 people will be involved in filming scenes in and around Middletown, Richter says. Stars Glenn Close and Amy Adams visited Middletown in early June with Howard, who also had scouted locations in the area in March and October.

Filming started in late June in Georgia, which offers unlimited tax credits to filmmakers. Ohio was out of tax credit funds when Netflix applied for a tax incentive on March 7, as I reported June 3.  The fate of the eight-year-old Ohio Film Tax Rebate program was uncertain until Gov. Mike DeWine signed the new state budget last week and upheld it. 

Glenn Close won a 2019 Golden Globe award for 'The Wife.'
Credit Paul Drinkwater / Courtesy NBC

Middletown leaders knew in April that only a small fraction of the film would be shot in the Butler County steel town, which prompted residents to appeal to Howard through a YouTube video.

Multiple Oscar nominee Close will play "Mamaw," J.D.'s grandmother and family matriarch. Adams, also an Oscar nominee, will play Bev, J.D.'s addiction-riddled mother. Little known actor Gabriel Basso (The Big C, The Whole Truth) will portray "J.D. Wade," the fictionalized name for Vance.

Also in the cast are Haley Bennett (The Girl On The Train, The Equalizer), Helen Abell (Stranger Things, Orange Is The New Black), Ethan Suess (Fear The Walking Dead, Scorpion, Alex Inc.), Amy Parrish (Black Lightning, Homeland, House of Cards, Stanger Things), Frieda Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire, The Path), Sunny Mabrey (Snakes On A Plane), Bo Hopkins (Dynasty, Murder She Wrote) and Jesse C. Boyd (MacGyver, Gone), according to the Internet Movie Datebase.

Howard will direct for his Imagine Entertainment company, which acquired rights to Vance's book in 2017. Netflix is paying $45 million to finance the film, Variety says.

Ron Howard visited the Triple Moon Coffee Co. in downtown Middletown in March.
Credit Courtesy Triple Moon Coffee Co.

Vance, a 2003 Middletown High School graduate, and Julie Oh are executive producers, according to IMDB. Vance is an Iraq war vet who studied political science and philosophy at The Ohio State University and law at Yale.

The script was adapted by Vanessa Taylor, who was nominated for an Oscar with Guillermo del Tor for The Shape of Water. She was also a writer-producer on HBO's Game of Thrones, Jennifer Garner's ABC Alias action series and WB's Everwood drama.

Atlanta-based Tammy Smith Casting in May announced that Hillbilly Elegy would be filming in three George locations – in Atlanta, Macon and Clayton.