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On an average day at Penn, there's not much to see at David Rittenhouse Laboratories except linoleum halls and a giant periodic table. But on Monday the building doubled as a set for the untitled James L. Brooks movie starring Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson.

The production crew shot a scene at DRL, offering Penn Physics students the chance to participate as paid extras. The film, scheduled for release in late 2010, is set in Washington, D.C., and based around the love triangle between a female softball player (Witherspoon), Major League pitcher (Wilson) and investment broker (Rudd), according to an e-mail from the the film's publicist, Rob Harris.

Harris said the movie will include scenes from just that one day of filming at Penn, although the crew shot for several weeks at Drexel University and will probably return to film more. Locations manager Staci Hagenbaugh explained that the crew chose Penn because of the campus's academic feel.

"We wanted to find a location that showed that the primary focus was on education," she wrote in an e-mail.

Penn students who participated said they heard about the opportunity through an e-mail sent to all students in the Physics Department from associate chairman Charlie Johnson. Aspiring extras e-mailed their pictures and personal information to the casting agency.

The selected students were on set from 8 a.m. to almost 9 p.m. on Monday, according to College senior Jake Bennett, one of the extras. He added that the extras all played students, some in a Physics classroom, others at a job fair.

The crew filmed two scenes throughout the day, Bennett said: one shot in the main entrance to DRL and another on the second floor.

"It was quite an experience," he said. "I was just sitting there and then all of a sudden Paul Rudd walked up."

College senior Matthew Berck, another extra, said most of his day was spent waiting in a classroom to be chosen for particular scenes. At the beginning of the day, he said, Brooks came in and talked to the students, then came back throughout the day to select different groups of extras.

"It was exciting to be in a movie … although it was a lot of waiting," Berck said. "If I hadn't known anyone it would have been kind of boring. We played a lot of cards."

Neil Peterman, a College senior, also said he spent much of his day waiting with the other extras, and at times there was uncertainty as to whether some students would be in a scene at all. However, Peterman added, he was especially excited to work with Brooks.

Harris wrote in an e-mail that the Penn students who worked as extras were "enthusiastic, energetic student interns."

"It's a nice feeling to be around young people who are excited about what they're doing," he wrote.

Producer Julie Ansell also wrote in an e-mail that the crew completed the shoot without any problems and particularly enjoyed "spending time on such a beautiful campus."

And for many star-struck Penn students, the experience was worthwhile.

"[Rudd] was about a foot away from me," Berck said. "But it wasn't like an in-depth conversation with Paul Rudd - he was just there."

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