Suburbs stand in for Smallville in 'Man of Steel'
Towns took turns hosting actors, the crew, all the extras for 'Man of Steel' filming
Clark Kent meets Lois Lane at an IHOP in Aurora.
A tornado touches down near a Sugar Grove underpass.
A school bus careens off a bridge in LaSalle County.
The new Superman reboot "Man of Steel," which opens today, prominently features scenes shot in a variety of suburbs — Naperville, Aurora, Sugar Grove, Oswego, Millington, Plano and Sandwich. They all helped bring Clark's hometown of Smallville to life.
It's been two years since the camera crews descended on the suburbs, but those who played a part in the filming, or caught a glimpse of the stars, are all looking forward to seeing what made the cut.
Man of scuba
Aurora native Dave Rautio didn't know what to expect when "Man of Steel" assistant stunt coordinator Tim Rigby asked to use Rautio's Naperville scuba shop, Below H2O, for a top-secret mission in September 2011.
Actors Henry Cavill and Russell Crowe came in after hours outfitted as Superman and Jor-El. Rautio's job was to test the costumes' buoyancy and check for trapped bubbles, which wouldn't look good on screen.
"It was kind of cool seeing (the costumes) for the first time before anyone else," said Rautio, 47.
Rautio had already met the stars. Earlier that summer, he worked with Cavill, his stunt double Paul Darnell and Crowe to certify them as open water divers.
They needed certification to breathe compressed air between takes of an underwater scene.
"It was a very cool experience to see this end of the industry that no one really sees," Rautio said.
Below H2O's private pool was a big draw for the studio, Rautio said, because it meant the actors could receive training without public scrutiny.
Rautio put Cavill, Crowe and Darnell through two days of academic training, three days of pool training and four open dives at Haigh Quarry in Kankakee.
Both Cavill and Crowe were above-average divers, Rautio said, and Cavill showed good airway control when he was asked to lie on the bottom of the pool facing up — something Superman does in the film.
Rautio also taught breathing techniques and underwater swimming to the 18 kids filming the school bus crash scene.
Rautio got to know Cavill and Crowe, saying both are nice guys who gave him a better respect for actors.
Crowe even gave Rautio a shirt and hat from the actor's Australian rugby team, the South Sydney Rabbitohs, along with his email address.
"He was, like, the nicest guy in the world to work with," Rautio said of Crowe, an actor sometimes characterized as unfriendly.
Rautio has been a certified instructor for 23 years and has trained thousands of customers.
"When I'm done and getting ready to retire," Rautio said, "(Cavill and Crowe) would probably be the two I remember."
One August afternoon, word about a Russell Crowe look-alike at the Batavia Public Library drifted to director George Scheetz. His staff investigated.
They found a man dressed in biking shorts and gloves eating a tuna sandwich at 10 South Coffeehouse, a cafe in the library.
The man "definitely sounded like Russell Crowe" to Scheetz, who pinpointed the man's accent as Australian.
"Just because I thought it was the right thing to do, I introduced myself, welcomed him to Batavia and hoped he enjoys his time here," Scheetz said.
The man introduced himself as "Russell," and Scheetz's suspicions were confirmed.
They talked for a short while, since Scheetz didn't want to interrupt the actor's meal.
Crowe took pictures with Scheetz and library employee Michelle Martzel.
"The library had its 15 minutes of fame because of the Russell Crowe visit," Scheetz said.
Scheetz joked that several female staff members came up to him later in the day and gave him a hard time, saying "Russell Crowe was here and you didn't tell me?"
It's a Plano!
At the southeast corner of Central and Main streets in Plano, a large American flag mural welcomes visitors to Smallville, Kansas.
That's because "Man of Steel" filmmakers used Plano for parts of Clark Kent's hometown.
Construction began in late May 2011, with about eight buildings. Plano Mayor Bob Häusler said some just had facades with one room attached to container cars. Others, like the 7-Eleven and the bank, were fully enclosed and featured during filming.
Häusler was excited to see about 75 to 100 members of the cast and crew orchestrating the film shoot for "Man of Steel."
"That was eye-opening to see the amount of people behind the scenes," Häusler said.
Häusler was cast as an extra in a bank scene.
"Hopefully it's in the movie," he said.
Häusler briefly met cast members Cavill, Michael Shannon (General Zod) and Antje Traue (Faora-Ul), along with director Zack Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan.
"They're here to do work," Häusler said. "There wasn't a lot of down time to shoot the breeze."
Häusler noticed Snyder's professionalism behind the camera.
"I could tell he was enjoying doing the film," Häusler said.
"He was a hard worker and a hands-on director."
At the end of the shoot, the crew dissembled the buildings, leaving some Smallville signage behind, including the flag mural.
Häusler said a room in the Plano Amtrak station will be dedicated to the city's role in "Man of Steel."
The display opens Saturday at 10 a.m. and will feature props and artifacts from filming.
"It was a fun time for our city and our citizens," Häusler said.
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