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Ready for its closeup: Hospital's North Tower gets spotlight for filming of movie

Photo by Donnie Ikpa

Photo by Donnie Ikpa

SUWANEE - Actor Jamie Foxx drove up to the main entrance of Gwinnett Medical Center on Tuesday in an older-model, black pickup truck with Texas plates.

Foxx was there to pick up Robert Downey Jr., who walked from the Lawrenceville hospital's entrance with his right arm in a blue sling. After Downey climbed into the vehicle with Foxx, another actor, Zach Galifianakis, strode up carrying an injured dog that was wearing a lamp shade collar.

It's a scene Gwinnett residents should be able to watch when the film "Due Date" is released by Warner Bros. Studios next year.

The three actors and a film crew were shooting most of the day Tuesday at the hospital, a site selected by the film's director, Todd Phillips, and producers, according to a company spokesperson.

"They love the look of the North Tower," the spokesperson said, "and it has a great expanse to do an outside shot."

"Due Date" is a comedy that follows an expectant dad, Downey, and his unlikely travel companion, played by Galifianakis, as the two race cross-country to make it in time for the birth of his first child.

The spokesperson said Foxx plays a friend of Downey's character, who picks him up at the hospital after he and Galifianakis are involved in a car accident.

The scenes shot Tuesday were set in Texas. For filming, a sign at the hospital's front entrance read "North Dallas General Medical Center" and the Texas state flag flew overhead. One of the film's extras, a man walking down the sidewalk to the right of the main entrance, was wearing a black cowboy hat.

Other extras were dressed as medical personnel.

No filming took place inside the hospital and operations continued, for the most part, uninterrupted by the cast and crew. Visitors to the hospital and employees reporting for work were redirected to an entrance below the North Tower, and traffic was rerouted to allow for vehicles used in filming and those transporting the actors to enter and exit the set area.

After filming wrapped for lunch just before 2 p.m., Foxx stopped for a few photos with fans who were waiting outside the set area before continuing on to a side parking lot.

According to a production assistant, the movie is in its second week of shooting in Georgia before filming continues in various parts of the country.

Lisa Trubia-Shapiro, a nurse practitioner in internal medicine with Gwinnett Medical Center, watched filming from just inside the hospital's main entrance Tuesday afternoon.

"We're not supposed to be out here too long, but I just wanted to see Robert Downey Jr.," she said. "I've loved him since we were teenagers, (when he played) in 'Less Than Zero.' We're about the same age, about a year apart, and I grew up following him."

Heather Fox, an X-ray technician, said she wasn't aware that a movie would be filmed outside of her workplace when she arrived at the hospital at 6 a.m. Tuesday. Crew call was 7 a.m.

"No clue," Fox said as she watched filming Tuesday afternoon. "(But) we're slow right now, we're on downtime, so I just came over to check it out."

A spokesperson for Gwinnett Medical Center would not comment on Tuesday's filming.