MARBLEHEAD – There’s something about Marilyn. Whenever the film crews come to Marblehead, Marilyn Dreben is somehow involved.
In 1958, Dreben, now 84, was a stand-in for Jean Simmons in the thriller “Home Before Dark.” In 2012, the interior of her house on Vassar Road served as David Spade’s groovy bachelor pad in Adam Sandler’s “Grown Ups 2,” in which she also played an extra. Now that her old pal is back in town to film “Hubie Halloween,” Dreben has been cast as a photo double for Sandler’s mother, played by June Squibb.
“It’s very exciting to be part of a movie – it’s another world,” said Dreben, a longtime Marblehead resident and Temple Emanu-El congregant. “It’s real Hollywood.”
Back in June, Dreben attended a casting call at the Marblehead Community Center wearing an ornate mask she’d gotten at a temple Purim party. Because of her resemblance to Squibb, she was first cast as a stand-in (someone who is used to test shots off-camera, but does not appear in the film), and later as a photo double (who is filmed from a distance as a replacement for an actor).
“I think because of my age, they needed someone to play his mom, and I was from Marblehead, and they seemed to like me right away,” she said.
If Squibb – who is 89 – can’t shoot, Dreben is called upon to dress up exactly like her and film in her place, although she does not speak and her face is never shown. Irregular filming schedules mean that at the drop of a hat, Dreben needs to rush to a trailer labeled “Hubie’s mom” and get into character.
“The only time they called me was four in the morning,” said Dreben. “I think [Squibb] got tired and they called me quickly to come to the set with her wig and her clothes and everything.”
These clothes and wigs were personally approved by Sandler to ensure maximum silliness. “I had to show Adam my costume to see what I was wearing,” said Dreben. “At first he wasn’t too happy with my T-shirt, so they changed my T-shirt. They say things that are very risqué – if children are going to see this movie, I hope they don’t know what these things mean … it’s typical Sandler.”
Dreben’s come to learn what exactly “typical Sandler” entails, because she got to know him when “Grown Ups 2” filmed scenes inside her home.
“He’s very, very nice, he’s very friendly and lovely – very good to everybody,” she said. “I think he remembered me from ‘Grown Ups 2’ and said ‘hi.’ He’s a very busy man – he’s running this whole show.”
Dreben also has spent time on set chatting with Sandler’s wife, Jackie, and his real mother, Judy.
Back in the summer of 2012, Dreben was sitting at home when her doorbell rang. It was the assistant producer of “Grown Ups 2.”
“I have a very modern house, and modern windows, and they liked my house … so they used it for the movie,” said Dreben. “It was David Spade’s bachelor pad, and they removed all my furniture and brought in all kinds of bachelor furniture.” The crew spent an entire day setting up, an entire day filming, and an entire day cleaning up.
Dreben was living in the same Marblehead house 54 years earlier when she went to a casting call for “Home Before Dark” in a Boston hotel. Just like now, she closely resembled one of the leading stars, and was cast as a stand-in for Jean Simmons. Countless things have changed in film since Dreben made her debut 61 years ago, but Dreben said there’s a bustle that remains.
“It’s the same energy. They’ve been doing it a while, and they know exactly what they’re doing – it’s very well-run, and everybody does their job and works very hard.”