A Broad Canvas
"The movie covers a lot of ground," says Di Novi, referring not only to emotional growth but, quite literally, to miles. Concurrent storylines scatter the four friends to Alabama, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Maryland and Turkey before delivering them, all together, to the spectacularly beautiful Greek island of Santorini. "It's a broad canvas; rich and exciting in many ways."
In the first film, the pants began their summer journey in Santorini, the most distant of the locales visited. Likewise, production on "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" began in the Greek Islands, revisiting some of those original sets and vistas, such as the home of Lena's grandparents and the place where, three years ago, she met Kostos.
Production designer Gae Buckley, who also made the return trip for the "Sisterhood" sequel, says "The family's cliff-side home and café were the same sites used in the first film. We reproduced the exterior construction and dressing and then created a brand new bedroom in a nearby location for the girls to sleep in."
Picturesque Amoudi Bay, in Oia, is the place where passenger boats disembark and where the four young women hire burros to navigate the steep trail up to the house. The production team artfully rearranged existing boats in the harbor, replaced modern signage with more subdued graphics, and dressed the entire area in lush greens with an overall focus, says Buckley, "on making it appear less touristy and more like a traditional small fishing village."
From there, they selected another Greek locale with contrasting topography to stand in for the archeological dig Bridget attends in Turkey. The excavation set was built from scratch in four weeks, modeled on existing dig sites from the Hellenic period in both Greece and Turkey, and proved convincing enough to warrant approval from local archeologists.
Production then moved to the U.S., where various spots in Connecticut served as a range of East Coast cities. Carmen's Vermont theater world was created from portions of Connecticut, including the KenMont Camp for Boys, the University Theater at Yale in New Haven and the Westport Country Theatre. Bridget's Bethesda home was shot in Bridgeport and her grandmother's suburban Alabama property in Stamford. Exteriors of Lena at the Rhode Island School of Design campus were captured at Western Connecticut State University. Tibby's world was filmed in New York City, from the Weinstein Building at NYU and Washington Square Park to familiar East Village restaurants Two Boots and Yaffa's Café.
By far, the scenes the four stars shared in Santorini were their favorites. And among these, a highlight was the burro ride-not only for the breathtaking perspective of the Santorini harbor it offers and the playful humor it catches on screen, but for the fact that it reunited them in a place that stirred such wonderful memories of their first "Sisterhood" experience.
Says Bledel, "It's very natural when the four of us get together. It's a jumble of noise and nonsense so we don't really have to work very hard on getting that element across in the story's lighter scenes where we're all laughing and having a great time."
Adds Lively, "It's chaos. We get along way too well and sometimes things just happen."
Illustrating this point perfectly is another cast favorite, the cliff-diving scene in Santorini, a purely spontaneous moment away from the cameras that was then incorporated into the story at their suggestion-and with Hamri's enthusiastic support. While enjoying some downtime on a stroll around the village one day prior to filming, the actresses spotted three boys taking turns leaping into the ocean from a rocky perch. The boys were fans. After talking awhile about the movie, they invited their guests to give the dizzying high-dive a try.
Recalls Ferrera, "I was the first to say 'no way! I'm not jumping!' But they talked us into it and it really was exhilarating."
"We did it five times in a row," says Tamblyn, who cannot resist teasing Ferrera by adding, "When we were recreating it for the film, America and I were supposed to jump together but she was being a wuss and didn't go," she laughs. "I didn't realize it until I was underwater and looking around for her. She scared me half to death. I was afraid she hit a rock."
"To me," Hamri concludes, "Carmen, Tibby, Bridget and Lena leaping from that cliff is about them feeling free-with life, and with each other. It's very symbolic. They've all faced their various difficulties and we know there will be more to come because that's life. But for that moment they can just have fun and be girls again, laugh and scream and let it all go. They take the plunge one at a time and in their own way. But, at the same time, they are all together."