WATERVILLE — Actor Ed Harris has pledged $75,000 for the future Paul J. Schupf Art Center being planned for 93 Main St. downtown, Waterville Creates! officials announced Thursday.

Harris lived and worked in Waterville in 2003 while filming the HBO miniseries “Empire Falls.”

Harris, who starred in the film, cited his fondness for the people of Waterville as one reason for the art center gift, according to a Waterville Creates! press release.

“Ever since living in Waterville and working on Empire Falls some 15 years ago, the town and the people in it have held a fond place in my heart,” Harris said in a statement. “This project is such a great idea and will enrich the lives of so many that I felt compelled and honored to contribute in what I hope is a meaningful way.”

Waterville Creates! and Colby College are partnering on the art and film center project, which will create a distinctive hub for visual arts, performing arts, arts education and film for children and adults, according to Shannon Haines, president and chief executive officer of Waterville Creates! In addition to enhancing Waterville’s reputation as a destination for arts and culture, the new facility will add vitality to downtown and serve as an economic driver for the region, she said.

Harris pledged his gift to support a $2 million community capital campaign being led by Waterville Creates! as part of an overall fundraising goal of $18 million for the project. In recognition of his support, the center’s box office will be named the “Ed Harris Box Office.”

“Over the 22-year history of the Maine International Film Festival, we have had the honor of welcoming some incredible guests to Waterville, and Ed Harris was certainly one of the most memorable,” Haines said.

Haines was director of the film festival in 2004, when Harris was presented the festival’s most prestigious accolade, the annual Mid-Life Achievement Award, in July that year.

Actor Ed Harris carries a girl out of Waterville High School, where a shooting scene in the “Empire Falls” movie was filmed in 2003. Behind Harris is actor William Fichtner, who played a police officer in the 2005 TV movie miniseries filmed throughout central Maine. Harris has pledged $75,000 for the future Paul J. Schupf Art Center being planned for 93 Main St. in downtown Waterville. Morning Sentinel file photo by David Leaming

“Ed was not only incredibly generous with his time at the festival, but he also used the opportunity to advocate for Railroad Square Cinema and independent film programming,” Haines said. “We are so grateful for his remarkable gift.”

Harris, who also is a producer and director, starred in films including “Pollock,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “Apollo 13” and “The Hours.”

Actor Ed Harris greets fans during the shooting of the TV movie miniseries “Empire Falls” on Water Street in Waterville in fall 2003. Morning Sentinel file photo by David Leaming

Plans to transform The Center into a $18 million-to-$20 million center for art and film took a giant leap forward last month with the announcement of a significant gift from art collector and longtime Colby benefactor Paul J. Schupf, for whom the center is being named. Officials and Schupf did not disclose the amount of the gift,  described by Colby and Waterville Creates! officials as “remarkable.”

Before that, in April, Colby announced Schupf had committed $2 million for a Colby College Museum of Art contemporary art gallery in the future center, also to bear his name.

The Schupf arts center will be designed to bring together under one roof arts institutions including the Maine Film Center, Common Street Arts, and a new gallery of the Colby Museum of Art, the Paul J. Schupf Art Center, according to officials from Waterville Creates!,  a nonprofit organization that supports and promotes high-quality, accessible arts and cultural programs and institutions.

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