London on Location
London has played a starring role in many blockbuster movies thanks
to its epic skyline, atmospheric streets and royal palaces. Whether
you're mad for all things Star Wars or a die-hard fan of Harry Potter,
there' a smash-hit film and TV attraction for every movie fan in
London. Follow in the footsteps of 007 at top James Bond movie
locations, and see where family-favourite Doctor Who is filmed in
London. Treat little ones to a day out inspired by Paddington Bear, or
discover the best of Harry Potter in London with a behind-the-scenes
tour at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. There's also plenty of London
cinemas where you can enjoy the latest film releases, from BFI London
IMAX Cinema to Cineworld at The O2.
Between Tower Bridge, Big Ben and the London Eye, London has one of the world’s most iconic and recognizable skylines. It's a shame, then, that Hollywood is so damn intent on blowing it up in every damn movie. So much so that in London Has Fallen, there’s now an entire film that’s just about terrorists blowing up chunks of London.
In Reign of Fire we don’t technically see London destroyed here, but we do see the rather charred aftermath.
In V For Vendetta, Houses of Parliament gets blown up in a film making a point of playing with Guy Fawkes imagery. Plus, it was a really good explosion.
In Star Trek Into Darkness, London’s futurized skyline covered in flames, what we actually got was one small explosion – of an entirely fictional building, the ‘London Archive’.
In Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, instead of direct
building damage, a sinkhole opens up in the middle of the Thames, which
would probably play havoc with people’s water bills. Thankfully,
the Fantastic Four were there to save the day.
It feels rather sad when one of Britain’s biggest franchises turns on itself, but in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince they wreck the rather nice Millennium Bridge. Still, the home advantage is perhaps what led to the unusual choice of target, eschewing most of the obvious options in favour of a bridge most famous for once being a bit wobbly.
The second G.I. Joe film - G.i. Joe: Retaliation - sees London struck by a missile that sends a shockwave rippling up the river, and it honestly doesn’t look like there’s much city left at the end of it all. It’s a bit hard to watch the London Eye collapse in the middle of it all, but points for sheer destructive scale here.
Film Locations Videos
This leafy London borough is a director's dream thanks to its grand
buildings. Keep your eyes peeled for World Heritage Site the Old Royal
Naval College during riot scenes in epic musical Les Miserables and the
thrilling opening carriage chase in Pirates of the Caribbean: On
Stranger Tides. The College also doubles as the Lilliputian capital in
Gulliver's Travels (above). Originally designed by Christopher Wren as
a hospital for injured seamen, the Old Royal Naval College was built
between 1696 and 1712 on the site of the old Palace of Palentia –
birthplace of Queen Elizabeth I and Mary I. It is now a World Heritage
Site and the magnificence of the buildings makes it easy to see why.
The location is often used to convey a sense of grandeur and history,
and takes centre stage in Gulliver’s Travels, Les Miserables, The
Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Northern Lights and Lara Croft: Tomb
Raider. Easily incorporated into a tour of central London, this is not
one to skip.
Thor: The Dark World
Although the production team of Thor: The Dark World headed to
Iceland to find Svartalfheim's desolate, barren landscape, filming also
took place at Pinewood Studios, the OXO Tower, a London Tube station,
the iconic Gherkin tower and the historic University of Greenwich
building. Having not heard from Thor for two years, Jane Foster goes on
a date with a very sweet chap called Richard (Chris O'Dowd) at London's
OXO Tower. The pair take part in some uncomfortable chit-chat, against
the spectacular London skyline including St Paul's cathedral, until
they're disturbed by Darcy (Kat Dennings) who tells Jane about some
strange scientific readings she's found. The Old Royal Naval College at
Greenwich - a regularly used location in British made movies - features
as the point where time zones collide and where the epic battle between
good and evil takes place in the movie. Chris Hemsworth, Christopher
Eccleston and Natalie Portman descended on the area last year to film
Thor taking on supervillain Malekith, creating terror on the campus in
south East London. The Thor crew and cast took over the University of
Greenwich using the area between the buildings for scenes with Natalie
Portman's character Jane Foster. We also see a view of the stunning
University from the Thames River as one of Malekith's gothic spaceships
slices through the land on arrival, unhinging all the earth and
concrete beneath. Incredibly, the production had to shut this section
of river in order to get the shots they needed. Humorously, Thor
stumbles into a time shift during the fight at the grand Old Naval
College site and is dropped into a London Tube station. He has to
travel with all the regular passengers in his cape and armour back to
Greenwich, so he can continue the battle with Malekith
Starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, the movie Notting Hill thrust
the eponymous chic London neighbourhood into the limelight. As well as
featuring star attractions Portobello Road and the Notting Hill Coronet
cinema, the movie also shows The Ritz hotel where Anna is staying, The
Savoy Hotel where the press conference is held, and Kenwood House, the
Henry James film set.
William’s bookshop ‘The Travel Company’ which was a key part of the film, was located in the Nicholls Antique Arcade. It has since been sold on and is now home to a shoe shop - Notting Hill, 142 Portobello Road. William’s flat in the movie is located just across the road from the coffee shop at 280 Westbourne Park Road. In the film, William’s flat was a rundown bedsit, but in reality the entire flat was a set and was nothing like the real flat behind the famous blue door of 280 Westbourne Park Road. The cinema where William watched the sci-fi movie ‘Helix’ that starred Anna Scott was The Coronet at 103 Notting Hill Gate just a short walk from the underground station. At the north end of Portobello Road market you can find Tony’s Restaurant on Golborne Road. It is a 500m walk from Ladbroke Grove tube station.
London's picturebox riverside is one of the city's most popular
filming spots thanks to its ever-changing skyline featuring Tate
Modern, Millennium Bridge, OXO Tower and the London Eye. Movies
Wimbledon, Bride & Prejudice, Thunderbirds, Thor: The Dark World,
Guardians of the Galaxy and Fast & Furious 6 all feature scenes
This famous landmark provides the dramatic backdrop for many films,
namely Fast and Furious 6, Mission Impossible, Tomb Raider, The Mummy
Returns and Thunderbirds. Bridget Jones walks across Tower Bridge in
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Shot early one morning, the people
walking across the bridge are extras.
As one of the world's most recognisable landmarks, it's no surprise
that Trafalgar Square has starred in numerous movies and TV shows,
including Captain America, St Trinian's and the final episode of
American hit comedy series Ugly Betty (above). A talking point of
2014’s Edge of Tomorrow was the iconic in which Tom
Cruise’s Major William Cage lands a helicopter in the middle of
Trafalgar Square. The square was also used in a climactic scene in V
for Vendetta, as hordes of dissidents assembled to protest. Film-lovers
can’t help but feel elation when recognizing a familiar setting.
London Underground has been the star of numerous movies, including
rom-coms About Time and Love Actually. The Tube has a key role to play
in Gwyneth Paltrow film Sliding Doors as her fate depends on whether
she catches the next Tube train or not. Cameras rolled at Charing Cross
underground station for The Bourne Ultimatum, while Skyfall sets a
chase scene in the London Underground.
Though it takes place in Paris, Inception has its protagonist Cobb
(Leonardo Dicaprio) actually meets his old lecturer Miles (Michael
Caine) and recruits architecture student Ariadne (Ellen Page) in
London. Director Christopher Nolan chose to film in the historic
buildings of his alma mater – selecting the Gustave Tuck Lecture
Theatre (also seen in Starter for 10) and the beautiful Flaxman
Gallery. Interested parties can keep an eye out for public lectures
taking part in the Gustave Tuck, while the Flaxman Gallery is currently
closed for refurbishment but from January 2015, will be open to the
public between 1pm and 5pm on weekdays. University College, Gower
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Opened in 1840 and still a working cemetery, Brompton Cemetery is
one of London’s Magnificent Seven, and rightly so. With a mix of
family mausoleums, individual graves and imposing architecture, it
epitomises Victorian London, which is likely why it was chosen as the
rising place of the villain Lord Blackwood for Guy Ritchie’s
Sherlock Holmes (2009). The location was also used in Goldeneye and
Eastern Promises, lending a touch of gothic drama to both. Located near
West London’s Westfield centre and the designer boutiques of
Chelsea, Brompton Cemetery makes for a truly peaceful escape from city
bustle. Brompton Cemetery, Fulham Road, LondonK
The Farmiloe Building was the headquarters for lead and glass firm
Farmiloe and Sons from its creation in 1868 until 1999. Though the
inside of the building required wrought-iron beamwork for the heavy
produce, the facade is all palazzo styling, which has not gone
unnoticed by Hollywood. The Farmiloe has featured in numerous films -
as a restaurant in Eastern Promises, a hotel in Tinker Tailor Soldier
Spy, and as Gotham Police Station itself in Christopher Nolan’s
Batman trilogy. Farmiloe Building, 34-6 St John Street, London.
Opened in 1907 on the site of the old Royal Strand Theatre, Aldwych
station served as an air raid shelter during the Blitz and closed in
1994. Now, it is used only for rare private functions and filming,
having featured in Atonement, V for Vendetta and the TV series
Sherlock. Members of the public can still gain access to the station
thanks to intermittent tours run by the London Transport Museum.
Proceed with caution however - rumour has it that the station is
haunted by the ghost of a young actress still waiting for her curtain
call. Aldwych Station, Soho, London, UK.
St Mary Magdalene Church
Frequently used in television and movies, inspiration for PD
James’ novel 'A Taste for Death' and with links to Thomas Hardy
who lived nearby and worked with the architect Blomfield, it is easy to
see why St Mary Magdalene Church has inspired so many. The gothic
architecture is romantically decorated in rich colors and opulent gold
and the ceiling of St Sepulchre’s chapel mimics a night sky. Spot
the chapel in The Oxford Murders (2008), Franklyn (2008) and perhaps
most famously in Les Miserables (2012) – this is where Hugh
Jackman’s Jean Valjean resolves to change his life. St Mary
Magdalene Church, Rowington Close, London.
Look out for Tate Modern in movies Match Point, Children of Men and
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. The Julia Roberts film Closer was filmed
at the National Portrait Gallery's Portrait restaurant which enjoys
sweeping views of the city's skyline. The London-based movie also
features the SEA LIFE London Aquarium and St Paul's Cathedral.
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Interior of the Royal Naval College Chapel on King William Walk, Greenwich
Four Weddings and a Funeral was the tremendously popular rom-com
that propelled Richard Curtis and Hugh Grant to international
prominence. Though the action is not as London-centric as it is in
Notting Hill, the film still features some excellent London locations.
The second of the four weddings, for example, was filmed in the
picturesque interior of the Royal Naval College Chapel on King William
Walk in Greenwich. The ill-fated fourth wedding takes place (or,
rather, doesn’t take place) at the St Bartholomew the Great
church in Smithfield. The 12th-century church is an established movie
star: it has appeared onscreen in many others film, including
Shakespeare in Love, Amazing Grace, Elizabeth: The Golden Age and The
Other Boleyn Girl and also in several TV programmes, including The
Hollow Crown. And it’s keen to capitalise on its value to
location-spotters; in 2007, it began charging visitors to see the spot
where Hugh Grant’s Charles abandons his bride at the altar.
The exterior of the flat owned by Grant’s character in Four Weddings has never achieved the fame of the exterior of the flat owned by his character in Notting Hill, but it’s still a location central to Richard Curtis’s London. You can declare your love for your significant other outside 22 Highbury Terrace, Highbury Fields, in any weather but hardcore devotees of the film will of course wait until it is raining.
James Bond in London
James Bond has frequented the capital on a fair few occasions in the course of his 24 feature films. If you're a die-hard 007 fan and want to discover these places, then look no further than our extensive guide to James Bond London attractions. Start off in Mayfair, the birthplace of Bond creator Ian Fleming, where you can see a blue plaque erected at 22b Ebury Street, Fleming's home between 1934 and 1945. Pop in for a cocktail at one of the numerous hotels Bond might well have visited in this area.
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