By Mac Cerullo
---- — SALISBURY – Hundreds came out hoping to catch a glimpse of Denzel Washington as Columbia Pictures filmed a scene for its upcoming movie “The Equalizer” yesterday at Salisbury Beach Center.
Shooting began at around 3:30 p.m. on Broadway, which had been transformed overnight into a full-fledged amusement park featuring carnival games and a working Ferris wheel. Access to the set itself was restricted, but all businesses remained open throughout the shoot and onlookers crowded the sidewalk to try and get the best view of the actors and actresses at work.
“It’s brought some real buzz to Salisbury and it’s a lot of fun for everyone,” said Fred Abdulla, owner of Joe’s Playland. “The best part is we have a front row seat.”
Conditions were ideal for filming, as crew members and revelers alike were treated to a cloudless sky, temperatures in the low 80s and a cool breeze coming off the ocean. The shoot had originally been scheduled for Monday, but was postponed due to inclement weather.
Prior to the start of filming, a smaller crowd of about 30 people stood in the municipal parking lot behind the police station with their cameras drawn waiting for Washington to emerge from his trailer. Some had been there for several hours, and a few even said they’d stopped by multiple times throughout the day since the early morning.
Kim Kulisich of Amesbury was among the onlookers, and she said that even before any of the actors arrived on the scene, you could still see crew members moving equipment and setting up carnival games in the background of the shot.
At one point a crowd of extras walked by too, and all of them looked like regular beach-goers. There were children in t-shirts and shorts, moms pushing strollers, young adults dressed for a day on the water.
But Washington was the main attraction, and Kulisich said she wasn’t going to miss the chance to see him, even if it meant being late to work.
“I was supposed to be at work in West Newbury by 3:30, so I’ve got to see him now,” Kulisich said at around 3:15 p.m., adding that was scheduled to have a “wine hour” later with a friend. “I’ll have a good story to tell her.”
Washington did eventually emerge from his trailer, immediately hopping in a black SUV that carried him to the set. Upon exiting the vehicle, the crowd of at least 200 welcomed him with a resounding cheer, and he responded with a dramatic tip of the cap.
Expected to come out next September, the movie has been filming in Massachusetts throughout this past summer. The production company has used a variety of locations for backdrops, including Haverhill, Groton House Farm in Hamilton and at the Crane Estate on Castle Hill in Ipswich.
“The Equalizer” plot is loosely based on a 1980s television series of the same name. The show starred the late British actor Edward Woodward, who played a middle-aged, retired CIA-type named Robert McCall, seeking redemption for the mistakes of his past. Placing ads that read: “Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer,” McCall helped protect society’s underdogs by getting them out of trouble for free.
In this film, Washington will play McCall, and he will be protecting a teenage prostitute played by Chloe Grace Moretz, best known for her portrayal of Hit-Girl in “Kickass,” from the Russian mafia. The film is being directed by Antoine Fuqua, who previously collaborated with Washington in the 2001 Oscar-winning film “Training Day.”