Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2007

Spy thriller brings a touch of Hollywood to the county

Russell Crowe in Gaithersburg to shoot new film

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Naomi Brookner⁄The Gazette
Warner Bros. crews work Tuesday afternoon on filming portions of a new Ridley Scott film ‘‘Body of Lies” starring Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio at the Global Exchange Services in building in Gaithersburg.
Under the guise of a light drizzle, Hollywood A-lister Russell Crowe slipped into Gaithersburg Tuesday afternoon to film portions of the spy thriller ‘‘Body of Lies.”

The Ridley Scott movie, co-starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is based on an espionage novel by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius and is being filmed in part at the former National Geographic building off Darnestown Road, near Lakelands Middle School.

The movie plot centers around a CIA agent, played by DiCaprio, who was injured in Iraq and is attempting to bring down a terrorist network by employing World War II-era intelligence tactics.

Crowe plays the agent’s boss as the head of CIA operations in the Middle East.

The six-story Global Exchange Services building, at 100 Edison Park Drive, will stand in for a National Security Agency office, Warner Bros. publicist Ernie Malik said Tuesday, just before filming wrapped up.

That afternoon, several yellow signs with the letters ‘‘BOL” were posted along the road leading to the building’s front entrance, where a few trucks were clustered near a white canopy.

As part of the set production, a bright white light shined from the first floor on the back of the building, which fronts a lake on the property called Lake Placid. Filming took place mostly on the first floor, including a board room sequence and various other scenes with Crowe, Malik said. DiCaprio was not involved in the shooting on Tuesday, he said.

The mostly vacant building houses Global Exchange Services, a network service provider. A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment, and directed all questions to Warner Bros.

Jack Gerbes, director of the Maryland Film Office, said his office has been in touch with Warner Bros. for several months.

‘‘[We] are very excited,” he said.

The Lakelands building originally was occupied by the National Geographic Society when it opened in 1968, and was modeled after the Society’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, said Greg Ossont, Gaithersburg’s planning and code director.

Its design strongly resembles the style of noted architect Edward Durell Stone, who engineered the Society’s headquarters and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Ossont said.

A few scenes were shot at Washington’s historic Eastern Market last week and at a day school near Annapolis on Friday, according to news reports.

A quarter of the film will be shot in the Mid-Atlantic, while the rest will be filmed in Morocco, Malik said.

In Maryland, the film industry accounted for $71 million in fiscal 2007, which ended June 30, and more than $370 million total since fiscal 2004, Karen Glenn, deputy director of the Maryland Film Office, wrote in an e-mail Wednesday.

Other notable flicks filmed in Montgomery County include ‘‘True Lies,” the 1994 action movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, which included a Chevy Chase house, and a small scene in Bethesda for ‘‘Man of the Year,” the 2006 political comedy starring Robin Williams, Glenn wrote.

‘‘Body of Lies” should hit theaters sometime next year, Malik said.