'Louie' Set Decorator Amy Silver Talks About Shooting in NYC

Louis C.K. shot all over NYC and beyond for Season 4, from Fairway in Red Hook to a beach house in the Hamptons.

Photo by: KC Bailey/FX Ivanka's (Ellen Burstyn) apartment was shot in the same Upper West Side building as Louie's apartment. The set was designed with the Gabor sisters in mind.

Plenty of TV shows shoot in New York, but few of them showcase the city the way Louis C.K. does in FX's Louie. One of the reasons we love tuning into the show is to try and figure out where each scene was shot: Which Fairway is that? Is that Central Park? Prospect Park? Neither? Where did they find that neat apartment? With the season four finale airing on Monday, we spoke to Louie's set decorator Amy Silver about the locations that have appeared throughout the season.

Louie spends a lot of time in the lobby and hallways of his apartment building. Where did you shoot those?
Those scenes are shot in an apartment building on 150th Street and Riverside. It is a beautiful old building that sadly is being renovated to accommodate the student population in the neighborhood.  

What about Louie's apartment itself? Where is that shot?  
Louie's apartment is shot in the same building.

Louie's doctor's office totally captures that vibe of old offices you find in the lobbies of residential buildings. What kind of ambience were you aiming for there?
In the scene description, Louis wrote that he wanted a dark wood-paneled office for Dr. Bigelow. I was thinking about my own doctor who has his office also in an apartment building — very classic and traditional, kind of like Ethan Allen from the '70s.

Where was Ivanka's apartment shot?
We got lucky with that apartment. It is in Louie's building and has the same exact footprint as Louie's apartment but had been very recently vacated and hadn't been renovated maybe ever.

I love how lived-in Ivanka's apartment looks. Did you bring in all the props that we see in there?
We brought in everything for that apartment. Graham Wichman, the set decorator, went to tons of estate sales and found the most amazing things. Ellen Burstyn had the idea that her character would have been very inspired by the Gabor sisters and so that really motivated all the ideas for the decorating. We also looked at photographs of Greta Garbo's New York apartment  for inspiration. Originally the character was more modest and a lot less glamorous. Ellen had all these great ideas for her character but she was cast a week before we started shooting those scenes, so it was a scramble to put all that together. Most of the paintings in her apartment are from an artist in Pennsylvania, Ruth Freeman, who had been making work since the '60s and had a lot of inventory from over those years. I think that all helped to give the apartment a strong sense of history and also gave you a sense that this was the apartment of a person who lived a creative life.

When Louie first meets Amia, she's sleeping on that striking scarlet couch. Did you pick that color on purpose? It gives her a sort of exotic persona before we've even met her.
Yes. I wanted to find something that had a beautiful shape but would also be a good backdrop for the scene. Vicki Farrell, the costume designer, put this beautiful lilac slip on Eszter and when you first see Amia she looks super beautiful and sexy — which makes Louie so uncomfortable and the scene funnier, I think.  

On their date, Louie and Amia visit Russ & Daughters, the Staten Island ferry, the park. How do you and Louis C.K. go about picking locations for his date montages? They always show off the beauty and vibrancy of New York City.
That is all Louis. He has very specific ideas about where those scenes take place. At first I was confused about why we would shoot again at Russ & Daughters, because we shot a date scene there as well last season. But Louis explained to me that his character was doing that thing where you present this cool idea that someone else told you about as your own and I was like of course! I've done that so many times to make myself seem cool.

Where did you shoot the Hamptons benefit event? It looked very glamorous.
That was shot at Oheka Castle. Jeff Caron, the location manager, thought that would be the perfect location for that scene and Louis loved it.

Where was the Hamptons beach house located? How easy or difficult is it to find homes to shoot at in the Hamptons?
It was really the only house we looked at that was right and it was an incredible house. On our show it is never easy to find locations because of our budget, but we have a very resourceful and talented locations department and they always pull through. The house was in Southampton. We were looking for a house that would show opulence and scale — the kind of house Buzz Aldrin, who was originally supposed to play the dad, would have owned. I wanted to find something that would have been very contemporary in the late '80s, early '90s. This house exactly matched the picture I had in my head. It really was perfect. We added very little — a few Fontana Arte lamps and some artwork.

Where did you shoot the Hungarian restaurant scene with Amia?
That was shot at this Russian restaurant in the Flatiron district called Mari Vanna.

Obviously every Louie episode has scenes set at the Comedy Cellar. Is that the actual Comedy Cellar? Do you know why Louie picked the Comedy Cellar over other comedy venues?
It is the Comedy Cellar.  I'm not sure why he chose that over the others but I love shooting there.

What have been some of your favorite shooting locations this season?
I would have to say the Comedy Cellar. We shoot there every season. It's dark and cozy in there. The owner Ava is so lovely. It feels like home base.  

Which Fairway did you guys shoot at in Episode 5? Layout-wise, are there any Fairways that are easier to shoot in than others?
That scene was shot at the Fairway in Red Hook. It was a great place to shoot — lots of room and the people who worked there were so nice. That, in my opinion, makes for a great location.

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