Pittston woman Catherine Smith stands in front of her 1973 Cadillac Coupe de Ville on set for ‘The Tender Bar.’ Photo courtesy of Catherine Smith

PITTSTON — “The George Clooney?” Catherine Smith asked when she picked up the phone.

She had just received a call from a producer working for George Clooney on his newest movie, “The Tender Bar.”

Two weeks prior, she had entered her gold 1973 Cadillac Coupe de Ville into a casting call she saw on a Facebook group for show cars, like her own. She didn’t think anything of it. In fact, she had forgotten about it until she was called about a month later by the producer.

“It was mind-blowing,” Smith said.

Smith bought her car in May of 1988 when she was 16 and living in Florida.

Her father showed her an ad in the local paper for the gold Cadillac and as soon as she saw it, she knew it was the one.

She bought it for $1,500 and two years later, drove it with her father up to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she went to college. A self-described “gas guzzler,” Smith was advised to sell her car on more than one occasion. But, she brought it to Pittston with her when she moved to the area in 2008.

“They would ask me, ‘Why are you keeping it? It’s bad on gas and you can’t park it anywhere,’ and I said, ‘I just love it.’ And I kept it,” Smith said.

She learned how to do the engine work, how to work on the brakes and give it a tune up. In 2018, she entered her car into a show and won 3rd place. With the confidence she gained from the car shows, she thought it may be fun to enter the car into the casting call.

The call, which was listed on Facebook, simply asked for cars from the ’60s to ’80s. She also had to send in a photo of herself. When the producer called, she said Clooney himself picked Smith’s car.

“I couldn’t even speak,” she said. “Hearing that with my mouth hanging open, it blew me away.”

Before officially heading down March 9 for filming, she had to go down to Devens, Massachusetts, two times beforehand for coronavirus tests and for hair and makeup fittings. The stylists took polaroid pictures of her wearing different outfits and hair styles to see what would look best on her. She was told not to change her appearance at all before heading down to casting.

She initially took a week off from her job as a court reporter, but Smith was asked to go down a second time the week of March 22 for more filming — this time, as an extra driving her car, and Smith was surprised. Before, she sat in her car and was given a walkie-talkie where she could listen to the acting cues. A Portland man was also casted for a role in the movie, but Smith did not see him at filming.

“We filmed one scene on a street and they had me move the car around and park it here and there,” she said. “At one point, they were going to use me as a pedestrian. … They had cameras everywhere, and it looked like there were around a hundred people mulling around, but they all had their jobs and knew what to do.”

Filming took place in a neighborhood in Lowell, Massachusetts, and Smith said there were people watching, mainly looking for Clooney or the other stars, such as Ben Affleck and Lily Rabe. They took Smith’s Maine license plate off and replaced it with a New York one to be accurate to where the film is supposed to take place.

She left with Affleck’s autograph and one lucky neighbor scored Smith’s after he asked her to sign his copy of the book the movie is based on.

“One of the local neighbors had the book and came up to me, standing up at my car and he asked, ‘Will you sign my book?’ I said ‘Sure, I’m just an extra, I’m not famous,’ and he said, ‘It’s OK, I want you to sign my book,” Smith said.

She had one run in with Clooney, who asked her how the drive from Maine was. Smith said it was Clooney himself who asked her to return for filming the second time.

Casting did not pay for the cost of trailing her car down, but Smith said it was worth it as a way to memorialize her car. She was paid $100 a day for filming and $200 for each day her car is used.

“Having it in car shows was like a dream come true to me, and the fact that I won trophies in any of them was the icing on the cake,” she said. “This is beyond what I ever dreamed of happening with this car. If it hadn’t been for this car, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity.”

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