With the 86th Academy Awards rearing a glittery, fully-coiffed head this Sunday, social media is awash with predictions and rumours. We’re all wondering who will win what, what is everyone wearing, who will make an inappropriate joke and will be there any ‘sore loser’ faces.
Looking back at previous winners of the Oscars, it’s hard not to fall across a film that hasn’t been set or inspired by one of the Europe’s most diverse, exciting and metropolitan cities. I’m of course talking about London!
We asked Charlotte from LDN Walk to give us some insights to some of the best Oscar movie locations in London from her TV and Film Walking Tour.
The King’s Speech, 2010, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor
Anyone who is a fan of the British Royal Family will have heard about the abdication crisis of King Edward VIII and how George VI (the Duke of York) ascended the throne to become King. The film follows Colin Firth’s struggle with public speaking with Helena Bonham Carter by his side.
As you would imagine, a lot of the movie was set in London, the majority at 33 Portland Place, the fictitious home of the Duke of York. It’s also the same location for Amy Winehouse’s Rehab video and was once the Embassy of Sierra Leone. The large Kensington house of Lionel Logue (played by Geoffrey Rush) is actually in Elephant and Castle, just a short 15-minute tube ride out of central London on Lliffe Street.
Shakespeare in Love, 1998, Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress
Drama, love, action, comedy and Tudor costumes: Shakespeare in Love has it all, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Rupert Everett. Even though most of the film was set in large studios, a short scene during Christopher Marlow’s funeral was set in the church of Saint Bartholomew the Great. This beautiful little church in London’s Smithfield/Farringdon area has seen a lot of film crews over the years including Sherlock Holmes, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and The Other Boleyn Girl, just to name a few. It’s no wonder so many London TV and Film walks come here.
Titanic, 1997, Best Picture, Best Director
Titanic, the ultimate tragic love story that put Leo and Kate on the map, was also filmed in London. Yes, mainly in large studios, but also in the famous Waldorf Hilton Hotel in Aldwych. The interior designer of the Palm Court tea room, Alexander Marshall Mackenzie, was the same designer of the interior of the Titanic. Looking at the white marble, golden chandeliers and candelabras and glass ceiling, one can get a sense of what dining onboard the Titanic may have felt like, and indeed certain scenes for the movie were carried out here. Afternoon tea, weddings and tea dances are now held in this beautiful room. The hotel itself has no problem with passers-by poking their heads in, so if you get the chance, it’s really quite lovely.
Inception, 2010, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects
Yes, even Inception was filmed in London! The Farmiloe Building in Farringdon was used as the pharmacy where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character goes to pick up the ‘dream within a dream’ drug. This seemingly derelict building has also been used as Gotham City Police Station in the latest Batman series as well a police station in The Da Vinci Code with Tom Hanks.
Skyfall, 2012, Best Song
Rightly so, Adele won Best Song for Skyfall, the epic James Bond movie with Daniel Craig. The final scene where James Bond is surveying the Westminster skyline is not only a beautiful image but also surprisingly easy to recreate – well, as long as you have security clearance to climb on top of the Government Customs and Treasury Building. If not, maybe a series of flips and spins or cartwheels will help you climb the building on Whitehall. Embankment Station, the Waterloo Tunnels, Smithfield Market and Parliament Street were all shut down to film Skyfall. Unsurprisingly there are squillions of James Bond filming spots in London. Look out for the lion statue next to the London Eye, which was used as the secret MI6 entrance in Die Another Day. We look forward to the next Sam Mendes James Bond movie premiering in October 2015.
So there we go. All brilliant films and all set in London. We could go on and on, the list is quite extensive. Next time you’re in London, if you’re looking to stand in the footsteps of your favourite actors, make sure you check out the London TV and Film Walks designed by Best LDN Walks. These tours cover a large section of the city and can also take you to the filming locations of Harry Potter, Closer, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Mary Poppins and Atonement.