2013 was good for celebrity sightings, too, mostly due to a big birthday bash honoring Rev. Billy Graham.) A Hollywood movie was filmed in Asheville and around Western North Carolina this past summer, and it drew some big-name stars. That, combined with the fact that Asheville is just red-hot as a destination these days, made 2014 great for star-spotting. Here’s a look:
-Ami James: The artist and star of Miami Ink opened a tattoo shop on Wall Street in Asheville. It’s called Love Hate Asheville. Check out photos from the February opening of James’ shop here.
-Caleb Johnson: Throughout 2014, television viewers watched as Asheville native Caleb Johnson grew into the title “American Idol.” The rocker belted out tunes and was never really in danger of getting voted off the show. He visited Asheville on a couple of occasions – there was a parade in Caleb Johnson’s honor after winning Idol, he served as grand marshal of Asheville’s annual Christmas parade, and he was a musical guest at the annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam.
-Bellamy Young: A star of the popular ABC television hit Scandal, the Asheville native came home to visit her mother and was seen about town. She also did a magazine photo shoot at the Biltmore Estate.
-Malcolm Gladwell and Peter Sagal: These two brainiacs were seen around Asheville in the spring. No official word on why Gladwell, the journalist and author, was in town. Sagal, the host of NPR’s Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me spoke at a Warren Wilson College graduation.
-Jude Law: The movie star that ladies swoon over was all over downtown Asheville, soaking up as much history as he could about Asheville’s most famous author, Thomas Wolfe (and causing a minor Twitter frenzy in Asheville). Law takes on the role of Wolfe in a biopic called Genius, a film adadpted from the biography Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, which tells the story of Perkins (played by Colin Firth), who was Wolfe’s editor. Law ate at The Med and Lex 18, visited Pack Memorial Library and Riverside Cemetery and hit a couple of other spots in the matter of a couple of days over the summer.
-Bryan Cranston: Bryan Cranston, co-star of the popular TV show Breaking Bad, which ended its run in 2014, visited Asheville for the memorial service of a long-time friend. He gave a private talk at the Asheville acting school New York Studio for Stage and Screen. He was spotted during a quick shopping trip to Trader Joe’s.
-Rob Lowe: Actor Rob Lowe was spotted at the Asheville Regional Airport, but there was no official word on why he was in the area.
-Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Lorne Michaels, Charlie Day, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Jason Sudekis, Ken Marino: All these stars were spotted in and around Asheville during the summer filming of the movie Masterminds, which has a summer 2015 release date scheduled. During filming, the movie was known as Loomis Fargo – the film is based on the true story of the robbery of a Loomis armored car in the Charlotte area in the late 1990s.
The celebs dined at popular downtown Asheville restaurants, bought local art, attended an Asheville Tourists baseball game and even floated in an Asheville sensory deprivation tank. They were also spotted in small WNC towns, which served as filming locations.
Galifianakis gave a private talk that I attended in late summer. Reflecting on his lack of self-assuredness as an actor, recalling how stand-up comedy let him to Hollywood and noting his love of Asheville, Galifianakis talked for about an hour before a crowd of about 100 people at the New York Studio for Stage, Screen and Voiceover’s studio space in Riverside Business Park.
Photo galleries of the filming of the movie here and here. Here’s a recap of the filming of the Loomis Fargo (Masterminds) movie in Asheville.
Image of Bryan Cranston Courtesy of Marc Pierre Photography.