Michael K. Williams

“Boardwalk Empire” returns for a fourth season on HBO, with viewers and critics both anticipating the critically acclaimed drama.  Steve Buscemi is back as shot caller Nucky Thompson, along with partner in crime Chalky White (Michael K. Williams) and a new power broker from Harlem, Narcise Valentin (Jeffrey Wright).

RELATED: Boardwalk Empire: Who Is Chalky White?

Filming  a period drama with high production values is no small feat,  so we’ve listed five little known facts that take you behind the scenes:

5) Mark Wahlberg is an Executive Producer

He’s more than just a pretty face.  Mark Wahlberg has come a long way from flashing those infamous washboard abs as a Calvin Klein model; Wahlberg has built a solid acting resume (“The Fighter”, “The Departed”) and turns out, he’s a savvy television producer as well.  Wahlberg’s real life adventures in Hollywood were the inspiration for HBO’s smash hit “Entourage”, which ran for eight seasons.  With “Boardwalk Empire” Wahlberg has struck ratings gold once again,  as the show enters its fourth season

4) “Boardwalk Empire” is actually shot in Brooklyn

One of the biggest challenges in shooting  was re-creating an Atlantic City boardwalk.  Production crew built a 300 ft. long boardwalk in an empty lot in Brooklyn, NY for about $5 million. Other outdoor shots are filmed around the five boroughs including Staten Island and Manhattan.

3) Award nominations

“Boardwalk Empire”  has turned out to be an awards magnet for HBO.  In its first season alone, the period drama received a whopping 18 Emmy nominations including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Dram Series (Steve Buscemi) and Outstanding Supporting Actress (Kelly MacDonald).  The show also won a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Writing in a New Series.  “Boardwalk Empire” is currently up for 10 nominations at next month’s Emmy Awards.

2) “Boardwalk Empire” has its own staff of historical fact checkers

When series creator Terence Winter (“The Sopranos”) decided to take on a period drama, he hired two Atlantic City residents, Ed Ginty and Vicki Gold Levi. Ginty’s grandfather worked at the Ritz Carlton  where the real Nucky Thompson lived, and actually met him when she was a child.  In order to have more creative license, Winter opted to base his characters loosely on the real life Atlantic City mobsters.  In an interview with Wired Magazine, Winter explained: “I didn’t want to be beholden to the actual Nucky Johnson’s life, because my Nucky I would like to have do things that the real Nucky probably didn’t do. Again, it’s partly to be able to surprise the audience, and partly because I don’t know if the real Nucky has relatives that are still living who are going to watch and say, “My uncle never murdered nine people” or whatever I want to have my guy do. That was the decision going into it.”

1) Hip-hop loves “Boardwalk Empire”

It makes sense that the glamour and corruption of the Roaring Twenties would inspire rap artists to rhyme about the HBO series.  Pusha T, Crooked I, and Royce Da 5’9 have all referenced “Boardwalk” in their lyrics.

Tune in to the season premiere of “Boardwalk Empire” Sunday September 8th on HBO at 9pm Eastern.

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