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‘Contagion’ movie stars return to Elgin

Tractor trailers filled with equipment for making movie Contagipark outside old Sherman Hospital Thursday Elgin. 
June 2 2011 | Michael

Tractor trailers filled with equipment for the making of the movie Contagion park outside the old Sherman Hospital Thursday in Elgin. June 2, 2011 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 29, 2011 12:49AM

ELGIN — If you missed Matt Damon the first time he visited Elgin, this is your second chance.

Damon and Laurence Fishburne both are in town, filming new scenes for the big-budget Hollywood movie “Contagion” at the old Sherman Hospital on Elgin’s northeast side, Sherman spokesperson Michelle Howe confirmed.

Pamela Meek, who lives about a block from the old hospital at 934 Center St., said she saw the trailers parked outside the building Wednesday night while pulling her 2-year-old son Parker around the neighborhood in his wagon.

“We were coming around the corner and we saw a trailer parked in the parking lot with a bunch of stars on the doors, and I thought, ‘Oh, they’re back!’” Meek said.

Damon, Fishburne and the crew of about 100 had filmed part of the movie at the old hospital over two days in December, transforming the building into the University of Minnesota Medical Center at Fairview.

Howe said the scenes filmed all day Thursday were “traditional hospital scenes,” shot in the old hospital’s basement and former surgical recovery room and Intensive Care Unit. Filming is expected to continue until noon Friday, she said.

“We won’t disrupt any patients, doctors or visitors” to the immediate care center in the building, she added.

According to the Internet Movie Database, “Contagion” is “an action-thriller centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease and an international team of doctors contracted by the Centers for Disease Control to deal with the outbreak.”

The movie — being shot in 3D — is directed by Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh, and its all-star cast includes Damon, Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet and Jude Law. The Warner Bros. release is set to be in theaters starting Oct. 21.

Meek said she’s a “Gwyneth fan, but I’m not a crazy fan who’s going to freak out in the parking lot.”

She had taken her son down to the film set in December, and the two had their picture taken with a random crew member “so we could touch someone who had something to do with the show.” She plans to visit the set again this week to take pictures, and “any crew member will do,” she said.

“We’re going to have to scope Mr. Damon and see if Parker can glimpse a movie star,” she said.

Meek isn’t a huge movie buff, she said. She and her husband Jeremy try to get in a date night each month, and that usually means seeing a movie, she added.

It’s just fun, she said, because Parker was born at the old Sherman Hospital before it became an immediate care center.

The 2-year-old calls the film crew “the movie people” now, she said. And someday he’ll be able to tell people he was born at a hospital where a movie was filmed.

“We knew our neighborhood was special. We’ve lived here about eight years.” Meek said.

“Now just the fact Hollywood has discovered it, it makes it even more special.”

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