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Weathering the set of ''White Sands''

Weathering the set of ”White Sands” — A downpour courtesy of Mother Nature, and perhaps a well-timed rain dance, adds authenticity to the replica ruins

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It was getting toward the end of the day on the set of White Sands, a suspense thriller due out next spring starring Willem Dafoe, Mickey Rourke, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Samuel L. Jackson (yes, it’s the same set on which Rourke’s companion, Carre Otis, accidentally shot herself recently). The Native American construction crew, working near Taos, N.M., had just finished building an 11,000-brick replica of an ancient Anasazi ruin, where the opening scenes would be filmed. Unfortunately, the crew still needed a couple of centuries, or some really bad weather, to make the set look a bit more antique. Well, mused one of the Pueblos working on the set, we could always do a rain dance.

Within 45 minutes, it was pouring — so much so that shooting was delayed a week. ”It made my ruins look 300 years older,” beams construction coordinator Jamie Archer. Coincidence? You decide. ”We do ceremonial dances several times a year to give thanks for crops, or a good harvest, or for the rain itself,” says Don Espinosa, lieutenant war chief of Taos Pueblo. ”We don’t ever specifically try to get it to rain.”