Most days, Robert Simpson is president of a reinforcing bar fabricator in Arnold.
On Tuesday, the president of Simpson Reinforcing was filming movie scenes with Tom Hanks.
“It’s pretty cool,” Simpson said at the end of a lunch break that came after filming the same scene over and over again with the movie star at the Arnold business.
Hanks is producing and starring in “A Man Called Otto,” the U.S. adaptation of a 2015 Swedish comedy, “A Man Called Ove,” which was based on a best-selling 2012 novel by Fredrik Backman.
Greg Felmley, an assistant location manager, said they expected to be filming at the Arnold business for just the one day, although crew members were scheduled to return Wednesday for cleanup.
Crew and extras were using a parking lot on Barnes and Eighth streets in New Kensington.
A publicist for the production did not respond to a request for comment.
Founded in 1969, Simpson Reinforcing has been in Arnold since early 2016.
“They just showed up at our door one day,” Simpson said. “They came in, looked around, asked if we would be interested, and we said ‘yes.’ We never expected them to pick us, but they did.”
Scenes for the film were recently shot in Oakmont and Ambridge.
Hanks has been spotted throughout the Pittsburgh region, showing up in a wedding photo outside the Fairmont Pittsburgh hotel and officiating a wedding in a couple’s home in Bellevue.
Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office, said Arnold happened to work with what was required by the movie’s script.
“We are lucky that in Southwestern Pennsylvania we have such a great diversity of locations to fit the needs of almost every production,” she said. “We are thrilled to host ‘Man Called Otto’ here in the region. Several hundred local people are working on and with the production, as well as many local businesses.”
Despite the presence of an A-list celebrity, Arnold police Chief Eric Doutt said things were quiet and calm outside Simpson Reinforcing. Perhaps that’s because most of the filming being done out of sight inside the business, with only vehicles, more people and some lights hinting that it was not an ordinary day.
No crowds gathered, and nearby residents seemed unaware.
“I don’t think (people) even know they’re here,” Doutt said.
Doutt said he and other city officers arrived about 6 a.m. to control traffic. He expected police to be there until 8 p.m.
Doutt said he saw a scene filmed with Hanks where he drives up to the building in a car as his character arrives at work. He didn’t see Hanks, but heard him on the radio.
“I said, ‘That’s Woody!’” Doutt said, referring to Hanks’ voicing of the character in the “Toy Story” movies.
It’s not the first time Arnold has been used for filming, but Doutt said it might be the highest-profile one and with the biggest star.
Last year, scenes for the Amazon Studios series “Sprung” were filmed there and in New Kensington. Arnold’s public safety building and other locations were used for the one-season series “One Dollar,” which came out on the CBS All Access streaming service in 2018.
Doutt said “One Dollar” used the public safety building, previously home to the police department, because they liked its round windows.
The interior of the show’s fictional police department was filmed on a set, not inside the actual building. Doutt said he wished his police department was like the one depicted in the show.
Doutt said Arnold is willing to accommodate television and movie production in the city.
“It’s very exciting,” he said.
“A Man Called Otto” is scheduled to open Christmas Day.
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Tom Hanks visits Arnold as filming for ‘A Man Called Otto’ continues in Pittsburgh region