A few things we learned covering The Place Beyond the Pines red carpet in Schenectady

pines schenectady premiere composite

We're going to let you in on a secret here: We don't cover many red carpet events. Let's rephrase that: We've never covered a red carpet event. Until now.

Last night we headed over to the Bow Tie Cinema for the local premiere of The Place Beyond the Pines in Schenectady -- which, like us, is also not accustomed to red carpet events.

For those of you who also have never attended a red carpet event, here -- in no particular order-- are a few things we learned or observed, and some pictures of what we saw.

And, yes, there are a few pictures of Bradley Cooper.

The red carpet looked a bit smaller than we expected

Pines Red Carpet.jpg

It was really more area rug than carpet. Here's how it works: Every press outlet stands shoulder to shoulder in their allotted space, from which they can snap photos and ask questions as the stars walk by.

Pines AOA on red carpet.jpg

People next to us, who have been to lots of these types of events, said this red carpet lineup was extremely calm and polite by Hollywood standards. Emory Cohen, who plays Bradley Cooper's character's son in the film, passed our way. So did director Derek Cianfrance and writer Ben Coccio (a Schenectady native), and producer Alex Orlovsky. They were all nice. They were all excited. They were all happy to answer questions.

Pines Cianfrance.jpg

Pines Red Carpet Group Shot.jpg

Attire ranged from suits and short dresses to jeans. Hugh Farley did confirm for us that he was not wearing Prada, but a "funereal style suit."

Bradley Cooper's appearance was still a rumor at this point, but hopeful fans were lining up in the drizzle outside.

Pines lined up to see the 1010 screening.jpg

Pines outside larger crowd.jpg

Pines Bradley kiss me sign.jpg


The Electric City is kind of a character in this movie. Not only do you recognize buildings like the Trustco Bank, street scenes and places like Vale Cemetery, you also hear familiar references like "north on Brandywine" and a someone brings Cooper a sandwich from Civitello's. Seeing it in a movie theater in Schenectady was not only meta but a bit surreal. Leaving the theater and passing Trustco on the way back to Albany we had a little Charlie Kaufman moment.

Pines vale cemetery.jpg

Both Cianfrance and Coccio say they couldn't have made the movie without Schenectady

"You had to make this movie here," said Coccio. "But this is really a movie about most of America. I think Derek is like a portrait painter, and I think the best portrait painters -- they represent something as being beautiful by being honest about it."

Cianfrance agreed. "I'm not trying to make a picture postcard," he said on the red area rug, "I don't work with the board of tourism, but what I'm trying to do is take an authentic, honest picture of this place.

Cianfrance said he worked pretty hard to keep the film in Schenectady. "Places like North Carolina have a bigger tax credit than New York, but we really wanted this movie made here."

The first time he came to Schenectady he looked at that Trustco bank and all the overhead wires that connected the stop lights. "That was the image that compelled me to make a movie here and the funny thing is it ended up on the movie poster -- and I had no part of that choice, but it shows you what a compelling image that is."

Bradley Cooper can even rock a windbreaker and backpack

Pines Cooper Cianfrance Cohen

Yep, he's sexy -- just like they said. He also drives his own car and eats salmon. And he seems to be an incredibly nice guy. He has a gentleness and humility about him. At the end of a day of shooting a film he's making in Boston, Cooper apparently called Derek Cianfrance and asked if it would be OK if he came to the screening. He arrived wearing a blue windbreaker and a backpack -- a look only Bradley Cooper could pull off as well as he did. If we passed him on the street, wearing that windbreaker, would we have thought he was an attractive man? Sure. Would we have known he was 2011's sexiest man alive? Mayyyyybee not.

Pines Cooper Cianfrance Cohen

At a post-screening Q&A with the invited audience, Cooper told audiences he really struggled with the role and that he almost turned down the part.

"I just had so many questions. The guy was so complicated to me. I really did not go gently into that good night. But I really grew to love that character, but every day was a struggle."

Cianfrance told the crowd about the night Cooper called him to turn down the part. "I said, 'Where are you?' He said 'In Montreal.' I said, 'I'm in Brooklyn, I'll see you in five hours." He drove north, met Cooper for dinner and at 4 in the morning, the actor relented. "I tired you out," Cianfrance laughed.

Being a movie star isn't all great

Yes, we know how that sounds. But what Cooper went through to have dinner in Schenectady must be what he goes through pretty much everywhere. People standing outside, trying to guess where you'll be, tweeting your picture, making comments about your attire if you don't look the way they expect you to look. Looking for every little scrap of info they can find about you. Having to be taken out back doors for safety. Nothing is private. Still, he gets to be Bradley Cooper, and that may be a good enough trade off.

Celebrating success is better with the people you love in the place you grew up.

Bradley Cooper may have been voted one of the sexiest men alive, but meeting screenwriter Ben Coccio was one of our favorite parts of the night.

Pines Coccio.jpg

He was just so excited to be there. Coccio was on the red carpet at the official Pines premiere in NYC, but coming home to screen his film was his biggest moment yet.

"It doesn't get better than this." He beamed.

Schenectady has some stuff celebrities like.

Derek Cianfrance's wife, Shannon Plumb, is from Schenectady, but the family now lives in Brooklyn.

"My kids want to live in Schenectady. I think it's because they have a backyard here," Cianfrance laughed.

What does he miss between visits to the Electric City? "Mike's Hot Dogs" he says, without missing a beat.

Emory Cohen thinks Bombers has great wings. But for Schenectady native Ben Ciccio, it's Petta's Restaurant.

"I miss Petta's. You can't find restaurants like that in LA, or even to some extent in New York City. I wish everybody could experience Petta's. But they probably should only do it once every couple of months because it will be too much food."

Cooper spent a lot of time at Ambition on Jay Street, but said what he really appreciated about Schenectady was the place he spent most of his time here -- the police station.

Oh, yeah -- the film. The film is good. At least the part we saw.

What we saw of The Place Beyond the Pines, we liked quite a bit, but to get the interview with Cooper we had to leave halfway through. In fact, it seemed a lot of people were coming and going. Maybe people do that at movies all the time and we just don't notice because we're not in the hall charging our cell phones and hoping we have enough juice for the next interview.

Anyway, the film: it's dark, it's gritty, but it's beautifully shot and the performances -- especially Gosling's -- are heartbreaking. We're looking forward to catching the ending sometime soon.

Earlier on AOA: Leah on the experience of her house being used as a location for The Place Beyond the Pines


Oh my. He really is handsome isn't he?

Yeah, you'd be able to tell he was sexiest man 2011. I could tell from these pictures and I didn't even enlarge the thumbnails.

Nice job, guys! Looking forward to seeing the film.

Yes. Ben Coccio IS really handsome!

I want to know how Leah and Dave's house looked in the movie and what they thought about it.

Glad you liked the movie. I had breakfast with Bradley during filming and is the nicest guy in the world. Genuine. He drove down from Boston to be at the premier for a few minutes. He didn't have to do that. I have another movie being filmed in the electric city in a month so stay tuned.

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