Marc Lawrence’s ‘Love Letter’ to Binghamton University

The filmmaker's fourth collaboration with Hugh Grant led them straight to the Red Robin Diner

The other movie opening this weekend, The Rewrite, is about a struggling Hollywood screenwriter (Hugh Grant) who is gradually seduced by the charms of SUNY’s Binghamton University. Just as was the case, once upon a time, for writer-director Marc Lawrence, who graduated in 1981 with a degree in English.

When Lawrence spoke last year to fellow alum Mark Mendelsohn (Class of 1985) for a feature in Binghamton University Magazine, he explained that it was no stretch for Grant to get to that hate-love relationship starting point:

“I tried to make the movie mirror my own experience there. When you first see it – at least for me – it looked like a Norman Rockwell painting with the color drained out. And at the end of those four years it was The Wizard of Oz. The color was completely there, and that’s how I felt about it, too.”

Still, Lawrence belly laughs as he recalls picking up his leading actor at Greater Binghamton Airport. “Hugh gets to Binghamton and he starts to drive. We shot him driving on Route 17, we shot him driving through town, driving past the Red Robin [Diner], and it’s just kinda great.”

“He didn’t have to do much acting,” he says, slipping into an effete British accent: “Oh, my lord!”

Ha ha. The pair were back on campus this past Sunday for a special screening of The Rewrite. At one point during the Q&A, Grant was asked to name his favorite Binghamton locale:

“Well, it’s hard to choose,” Grant said to laughter and applause. “I think, in the end, it might be the Red Robin.”

The same place that hangs, in poster form, on one of the walls of Lawrence’s Upper West Side abode.
[Production still courtesy: Image Entertainment]