PHOTOPHILE- Film Noah-r: <i>Evan Almighty</i> wraps up in Crozet

"I really trust these actors," says director Tom Shadyac to his visitors as he explains his impending break from the set of Evan Almighty to follow some suggestions made by the cast. He disappears for 30 minutes to a trailer and emerges with fresh scripts for the upcoming scene to be shot at the base of a giant ark.

"We think that actors act and directors direct, but I think it's a real collaborative effort," says Charlottesville businessman Stu Rifkin, after chatting with Shadyac.

A member of the UVA class of 1981, Shadyac directed Jim Carrey in three blockbusters: Ace Ventura, Liar Liar, and this picture's prequel, Bruce Almighty. Now, he's going for a sequel with another star: Steve Carell.

Carell strolls by clad in a big white robe and white beard, and someone sticks a mirror in front of him.

"I have a beard?" exclaims the wise-cracking actor best known for starring roles in television's The Office and the recent cinema hit, The 40 Year Old Virgin. Now, he's looking like the bible's best known boat maker as he practices his lines in front of the giant ark that dominates the entrance to the Old Trail neighborhood near Crozet.

Across the street from the ark, dozens of extras are playing some sort of musical chairs game to pass the time while they wait to play the befuddled citizenry. Meanwhile, five satellite television trucks are parked along the main drag. Most appear to be fake stations– WYBS!– but there is also an NBC29 van amid them.

John Goodman walks up and gets a hug from the director. The noted character actor, well known for his role opposite Roseanne Barr on the long-running television series Roseanne, plays a Congressman, but he's just watching today.

In this day's scene, Evan– played by Carell– is being persuaded by Jonah Hill, John Michael Higgins, and Wanda Sykes to take his case to Congress. We'll have to wait until next year to find out exactly what his case is.

The filming has just a few more days in Crozet, and then the giant ark– mostly painted styrofoam– will be disassembled along with the three insta-houses and their astroturf lawns. And Old Trail can go back to being a neighborhood-in-progress, instead of just playing one on film.

The supports are wood, but the hull is plastic.

The rain machine is ready...

Crozet wildlife has really gotten wild

Amid the parched dirt of the set, these "lawns" of these facade-houses are green