Hollywood Loves the Lowcountry
The South Carolina Lowcountry is a great place to film a movie. The landscape is filled with oak lined alleys, lazy waterways, and charming small towns. Our sub-tropical sea islands are also another well-used place to set a jungle scene. Let’s not forget the beautiful beaches and classically southern architecture. Our chameleon-like environment and mild weather can transport production crews from the South to the Midwest, tropical islands, and even Europe. Let’s take a chronological look at the movies that have been filmed in Beaufort, Jasper, Colleton and Hampton counties.
The Great Santini is a Pat Conroy classic that was filmed in Beaufort. The Meechum family home scenes were shot in the house is known locally as Tidalholm. Many of the military scenes were shot at the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station. All of the other scenes were filmed in and around Beaufort. Robert Duvall, Blythe Danner and Michael O’Keefe star in this 1979 coming of age drama classic.
Beaufort’s Tidalholm Mansion was also prominently featured in the film The Big Chill. It is a private home located in downtown Beaufort. The 1983 film includes the talents of Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, Tom Berenger and Jo Beth Williams. Kevin Costner was also cast for the film, but unfortunately the only scenes that made the final cut involved his funeral. Filming sites also included Bay Street and streets along the Point. Tidalholm also serves as a main backdrop in The Great Santini, filmed just a few years earlier in 1979.
Full Metal Jacket was filmed on Parris Island in 1987. The island is home to the training facility of the US Marine Corps. Footage of an actual marine graduation was used in the film. The movie stars Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin and Vincent D’Onofrio.
Pat Conroy’s Prince of Tides was filmed on Fripp Island. Just an island hop-skip-and-a-jump from Beaufort, the beautiful, unspoiled beach made the perfect backdrop for the film. Conroy wrote the book in 1986, while living in Beaufort. The movie was filmed on Fripp in 1991, then in 1992, Conroy moved onto the island. Nick Nolte drives across the Beaufort River in the opening scene of the movie. The private home at 601 Bay Street was used as well. Nick Nolte, Barbara Streisand and Blythe Danner star in this Conroy classic.
Forrest Gump may have been set in Greenbow, Alabama, but it was mainly filmed in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Fripp Island, Beaufort, Hunting Island, Varnville, Walterboro, and Yemassee were all sights used in this iconic 1994 movie. Stars Tom Hanks, Robin Right, Sally Field and Gary Sinise travelled between Beaufort, Fripp Island, Varnville, Yemassee and Walterboro to create this American classic film that has left us with enough quotes to last a lifetime.
Disney’s Jungle Book was filmed in the South Carolina Lowcountry. The lush India jungle scenes were shot on Fripp Island, nearly 8,000 miles away from the story’s fictional setting. Locations for the war scenes were destroyed then later developed into a golf course. An abundance of exotic animals were brought onto the island foe filming, including monkeys, elephants and tigers. The 1994 movie carried a star-studded cast including Jason Scott Lee, Cary Elwes, Lena Heady, Sam Neill and John Cleese.
The War was filmed in Beaufort in 1994. The movie Stars Kevin Costner, Mare Wittingham and Elijah Wood. The movie follows the family of a Vietnam soldier as he tries to acclimate into his former life after the war. While his children build a treehouse in their small hometown of Juliette, Mississippi, they were actually filming in a Beaufort, SC live oak tree. Fun fact – this is Kevin Costner’s second time to film in the Lowcountry. He was in the cast of the Big Chill. Unfortunately all his scenes, with the exception of his funeral, were cut from the movie. Little did they know that he would become the Hollywood powerhouse that he is today.
King Farm scenes from Something to Talk About were filmed at Davant Plantation, just north of Ridgeland. Downtown Beaufort was also used for filming the college scenes. The restaurant at 822 Bay Street was used for a scene and many locals were cast as diners. The Beaufort County Library on Scott Street was used extensively during the production. Mobile dressing rooms were parked in the lot and the meeting room was used as well. The intersection of Craven and Scott Streets was a popular spot to try to catch a glimpse of Julia Roberts, Dennis Quaid, Robert Duval, Gena Rowlands, Kyra Sedgewick and the rest of the cast. The film was released in 1995.
Even Jim Carrey and Courtney Cox found their way to the Lowcountry when Ace Ventura was filmed in 1995. Edisto Island’s Botany Bay and Yemassee’s Cherokee Plantation were locations used for the comedy film. Botany Bay was the perfect backdrop to film the tropical jungle and African village scenes. The Georgian mansion of Cherokee Plantation and its manicured gardens served as the setting for the British consulate in Bonai. Fun fact – the president of General Motors, Robert Beverly Evans, once owned Cherokee Plantation and named the Jeep Cherokee after his Lowcountry estate.
Hollywood came to the Lowcountry was once again when the all-star cast, featuring Sharon Stone, Peter Gallagher, Randy Quaid and Rob Morrow visited Beaufort and Ridgeland to film Last Dance. The 1996 film captured images of the Castle (411 Craven Street), Hunting Island and the newly constructed state prison in Ridgeland.
Parts of the movie White Squall were filmed in Beaufort. The 1996 film stars Jeff Bridges and Caroline Goodall. The production crew transformed 510 Carteret Street, Beaufort, into the movie’s bus terminal. The churchyard of the Parish Church of St. Helena, 501 Church Street, was also used in the movie. The church, built in 1724, is a Beaufort landmark. Other Beaufort film sites included: Murr’s Graphic and Printing, 1012 Boundary Street, the Chocolate Tree, 507 Carteret Street, and areas of Washington Street.
Demi Moore and Viggo Mortensen made their way to the jungles of the Lowcountry in 1997 to film GI Jane. The movie dealt with the extreme physical and mental challenges of training for the elite Navy Seals. Survival camp scenes for this movie were filmed on Harbor and Hunting Islands.
Edisto Island’s Botany Bay was the setting for the beach slave camp in the movie The Patriot. The movie was shot in entirely in South Carolina in 101 days from September of 1999 to January of 2000. Benjamin Martin’s (Mel Gibson) character is loosely based on the legend of South Carolina’s famed “Swamp Fox,” Francis Marion. The movie also stars Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs and Joely Richardson.
Forces of Nature made its way along the east coast and filmed in the Lowcountry in 1999. Ben Affleck, Sandra Bullock, Maura Tierney and Blythe Tanner shot scenes at the Beaufort home at 411 Craven Street. The mansion, commonly known as the Castle served as the Cahill’s house. The stars were guests at the Rhett House Inn during their stay in Beaufort. It’s fun to note that this is the third time that Blythe Tanner was cast as the mother in a movie filmed in Beaufort (Great Santini, Prince of Tides, Forces of Nature).
Rules of Engagement is another movie that was filmed on the South Carolina Lowcountry. Vietnam War scenes from this 2000 film were shot on Hunting Island. The island’s lush, semi-tropical landscape is reminiscent of the Vietnam jungle. The military film stars Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson.
Edisto Island’s Brookland Plantation served as the home of Matt Damon’s character in the 2000 movie Baggar Vance. Actors Will Smith and Charlize Theron join the cast with Damon. The movie was also directed by Robert Redford. Golfing scenes were filmed at the Pete Dye course in Bluffton’s Colleton River Plantation.
Inspired by a heart-warming true story, Radio was filmed in and around Walterboro. Many of the 2003 movie scenes were shot at Hampton Street Elementary, which was also a location used in Forrest Gump. Filming also took place at Colleton County High School. Many scenes were shot along Washington Street. The coach’s house is located on just outside Walterboro on Mt. Carmen Road. Radio stars Cuba Gooding, Jr., Ed Harris and Debra Winger.
Cassina Point Plantation on Edisto Island was a scene from the movie Dear John. This was the site of Savannah’s (Amanda Seyfried) family home. Seyfried and Channing Tatum were filmed there for several scenes in the 2010 motion picture. Both stars shared their thoughts in a www.sciway.net post:
“I love South Carolina,” says Channing Tatum. “I’m from the South, so I have an addiction with it. The food, the people, the lifestyle. It’s just so charming.”
“The South is a whole different thing altogether. It’s romantic. It’s just so beautiful. It brings something to a film you can’t get anywhere else in the world.” – Amanda Seyfried
More recently Beaufort has been used in the production of the 2019 Netflix hit Outer Banks. While the story line takes place in North Carolina, filming is done in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. While a majority of the scenes were filmed in the Charleston area, Hunting Island plays a prominent roll in the series. The island was the spot for the nighttime beach scenes. And the boneyard beach area was the location for several party scenes. The Hunting Island Lighthouse also makes an appearance while the characters search for clues to a hidden treasure.
Stars Fell on Alabama was filmed in Beaufort and Bluffton in 2019. The romantic comedy was filmed throughout Beaufort, including Bay Street, The Beaufort Inn and Blackstone’s Cafe. Other locations included Port Royal, Beaufort Academy on Lady’s Island, and the Old Town Dispensary in Bluffton. The film is scheduled to premiere in film festivals in the fall of 2020.
To take a movie tour of the Lowcountry visit southcarolinalowcountry.com/beaufort-port-royal-st-helena-tours.
Photo credit for movie scenes: IMDb.