A More Local Castle Will Do for Disney

By Daniela Deane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Nicolas Cage is coming to Alexandria this week to deliver a speech at the George Washington Masonic Memorial. And maybe use the bathroom.

But . . . shhh! Don't tell a soul.

The people filming Disney's "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," a sequel to the hit 2004 film starring Cage, Jon Voight and Diane Kruger, would like to keep this their own special Hollywood secret.

The fact is, they don't want a bunch of lookie-loos showing up at the memorial, known locally as the Masonic Temple, trying to catch a glimpse of the actors.

Not that it would be that easy to do. Disney has rented the temple -- Old Town Alexandria's most conspicuous landmark -- through Saturday and has closed it and its hillside grounds to the public during that time.

And it's not as though the stars haven't been glimpsed around Washington. Last week, they were spotted in Lafayette Square and on the Mall.

Nevertheless, the Alexandria shoot is being kept super hush-hush. Even though you get the feeling that the people who work at the Masonic Temple would scream the news from the top of their 333-foot tower if they could.

"It's very exciting," said George Seghers, director of the temple. "We've had movies for the History Channel and the Discovery Channel filmed here, but this is the first Hollywood movie to be filmed here. But I can't say much more than that."

But he did. Seghers said the temple will act as a stand-in for the Smithsonian in the movie.

In the film, Cage plays treasure hunter Ben Gates, whose ancestor is implicated in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. He sets off on a globe-trotting adventure to clear his family name and find a missing treasure along the way.

"They're going to film in the auditorium, in the Memorial Hall and in a bathroom," said a temple employee who spoke on condition of anonymity because "we're not supposed to talk about it."

Cage will address about 400 extras in the auditorium, the employee said. The temple's Memorial Hall will serve as a Smithsonian exhibition hall where treasures are displayed.

Seghers wouldn't discuss what Disney was paying to rent the temple. But he allowed: "It's not a fortune. Or a treasure."

© 2007 The Washington Post Company