George Clooney’s movie shoot briefly transformed Lesley University into Yale

Harvard's next-door neighbor was briefly turned into its biggest rival for "The Tender Bar."

The Tender Bar Cambridge
Filming for "The Tender Bar" took place on Brattle Street in Cambridge on Monday afternoon. Kevin Slane/Boston.com

It was surprising to see Yale colors flying in Cambridge this week.

The signage was part of filming for “The Tender Bar,” the new film directed by George Clooney that has been filming in the Boston area since late February.

A sign for Yale University at Lesley University in Cambridge, used for filming “The Tender Bar.”

Lesley University — not Harvard — served as the film set Wednesday and Thursday. The college’s Brattle campus had crew members setting up shots in the center of its building cluster, with a staging area for extras set up in the school’s Washburn Commons, and a catering area was set up behind the historic Oliver Hastings House.


“The Tender Bar” is based on the memoir of the same name by author J.R. Moehringer, a Yale graduate. To match Moehringer’s time at Yale in the early 1980s, several retro cars were also put into use by crews.

Period-specific cars used for filming “The Tender Bar.”

“The Tender Bar” tells the story of Moehringer’s childhood living on Long Island without a father, a New York disc jockey who disappeared before J.R. could speak. Seeking a replacement father figure, Moehringer begins spending time at a bar owned by his uncle, where the regulars welcome him as one of their own.

According to multiple reports, “The Tender Bar” will star Tye Sheridan (“Ready Player One”) as J.R., Ben Affleck as his uncle Charlie, Lily Rabe (“Vice”) as J.R.’s mother, and Christopher Lloyd (“Back to the Future”) as his grandfather.

Rounding out the cast per Deadline are Sondra James (“Joker”), Max Martini (“Sgt. Will Garner”), Michael Braun (“The Affair”), Matthew Delamater (“Castle Rock”), Max Casella (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Rhenzy Feliz (“Marvel’s Runaways”), Ivan Leung (“The Disappearance of Mrs. Wu”), Briana Middleton (“3:35 to Boston”), and newcomer Daniel Ranieri.


Prior to Monday’s filming, “The Tender Bar” has filmed in Watertown and Lowell, and is expected to visit other towns on the North Shore, including Ipswich, before wrapping production in mid-April, according to a source familiar with the production.

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