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Late last year, Jodie Foster was spotted at local eateries, chowing down with the crew of Contact and even a couple of area actors between exterior shots for the movie. Now, the fruits of their labors are onscreen, and if locals won’t always recognize the D.C. terrain (the filmmakers digitized-in a major thoroughfare where the west steps of the Capitol normally sit), D.C. theater fans will at least spot some familiar faces.

Arena regular Henry Strozier, who just finished playing Pastor Manders in Ibsen’s Ghosts, also dons a clerical collar in the film. He’s the priest who urges 10-year-old Ellie (the tyke who’ll grow up to be Jodie) to accept her dad’s death as part of God’s plan.

Blink and you’ll miss a more famous Arena face—Robert Prosky, who utters about half a line (there must be lotsa celluloid on Robert Zemeckis’ cutting-room floor). Also in for barely a long shot is longtime Round House and Source star Fred Strothers, in military drag.

But the local actor who makes the most indelible impression is Michael Chaban, late of Studio’s Lisbon Traviata and a few dozen episodes of Homicide. He’s the guy who sneers at Jodie when she requests funding, then squirms when the boss calls and has to backtrack. Poor guy (but it’s probably worth the humiliation just to sit at that awesome flying-saucer table). —Bob Mondello