“Is this my mark?” Morgan Freeman asked. “Is this where I say my first line?”
“On the second mark,” answered a voice from afar.
“That’s not a mark. That’s a nick,” a second voice offered, and a crew member attacked the smudge to clear things up.
“I have a birthmark,” quipped Kevin Kline.
Freeman and Kline were rehearsing a scene from “Last Vegas,” with their co-stars Robert De Niro and Michael Douglas, and the production team was helping make sure everyone was in the right place.
Director Jon Turteltaub monitored the progress, having stamped out any number of fires earlier. The curtains wouldn’t operate correctly at first, and it took an hour to work out the kinks. That sort of thing.
“The difference between a $150 million movie and our movie is we have six sets of people opening curtains,” Turteltaub mused. “People say, ‘Why does it take so long? Why is it so expensive?’ This is why.”
Eventually the curtains worked properly, and the A-list actors strolled onto the set for a scene with Romany Malco, recently seen in “Think Like a Man,” the ensemble comedy based on the book by Atlanta’s Steve Harvey.
“There’s that weird line between, ‘Oh, my God, this is so exciting; I get to direct these four stars,’ and ‘Oh, my God, this is terrifying; I have to direct these four stars,’” Turteltaub said. “It’s hard to balance being the guy in charge and the guy who just wants their autographs.”
The movie, due for a 2013 release, is about four lifelong friends who get together in Las Vegas for fun and games.
“It’s a coming-of-age story,” Turteltaub said. “Four 70-year-old guys go to Vegas and get a big dose of how young they’re not and how old they’re not. We all struggle with the idea of acting your age. We’re always growing. We’re always learning.”
The actors were not available for interviews, but we did overhear them in between takes discussing Atlanta restaurants.
“Have you tried 10 Degrees South?” asked Freeman, who was spotted there recently. Douglas is a Bacchanalia man.
The movie shot some exterior scenes in Las Vegas before heading to Atlanta, and will be doing interior work through mid-December. They’re filming at Mailing Avenue StageWorks, a newly opened studio in the Grant Park area, owned by partners John Raulet, his brother Paul Raulet and Tyler Edgarton. (Lest stargazers get any big ideas, we should note the place is heavily fortified with security and a formidable-looking fence.)
John Raulet is a commercial real estate veteran, but when the market tanked years ago, he began working with movie projects seeking filming sites. His first such deal was the cinematic classic “Road Trip II: Beer Pong.”
This week, he watched “Last Vegas” in action.
“That’s a long way away from ‘Road Trip,’ the first lease I signed in 2008,” he said. “Four of the biggest actors in the world sitting in front of me. That’s pretty cool.”
After “Last Vegas” wraps, Mailing Avenue StageWorks won’t stay vacant long. Raulet isn’t able to tell us just yet what’s coming next.
For now, it’s home to De Niro, Freeman, Douglas and Kline and their enamored director.
“In every interview you do, people will tell you how much fun they’re having,” Turteltaub said. “In this case, it’s true.”