Virginia Madsen enjoys stay in Wilmington!

•• The cast of the locally filmed TNT movie “Hornet’s Nest” arrived late last month, and the stars will be popping up around the Port City at various shoot locations and area haunts through Dec. 24. The following are some of the actors you’ll see on the screen next spring and possibly around town through the end of the week.

•• Virginia Madsen: Perhaps best known for her role as Maya in the 2004 movie “Sideways,” Virginia Madsen is no stranger to Wilmington. This is the third TV movie she has done in this area. The others were “Linda” in 1993 and “Ambushed” in 1997. She also appeared on the 2003 season finale of “Dawson’s Creek.”

Madsen plays Police Chief Judy Hammer in “Hornet’s Nest.” Clad in a knee-length black dress and sheer wrap and sporting bright-white sneakers between takes during a ballroom scene at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside last week, she gushed about the Port City.

“It’s just a beautiful place,” Madsen said with a sense of sincerity and warmth. “I’m very happy that they haven’t built it up too much. This town is such a wonderful combination of small-town feeling but with show business.”

In fact, she loves it here so much she asked to stay in the heart of downtown rather than being in a more remote location away from the city’s center. You’re likely to find Madsen sitting at the bar at Caffe Phoenix, an eatery she confessed she’d visited almost every day during her stay thus far. She recalls it fondly from her previous visits.

“I like the staff, and the food is wonderful,” Madsen said. “I’ve never had a bad meal there.”

She’s also a fan of Tower 7 in Wrightsville Beach. Madsen’s sentiment for the local film community matches her love for the area. She beamed when talking about the “Hornet’s Nest” crew.

“They just know how to do it here,” Madsen said. “The crews have an ease with one another and so they work faster. They really are professional, and they know what they’re doing.”