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Watching Washington State

May 12, 2020 Visit USA No Comments Email Email

Washington State is a location scout’s dream.  Its pristine wilderness of three national parks, capped by high mountains, its long Pacific coastlines, lakes, rivers and vineyards, and the breathtaking waterfront to mountain backcloth to its biggest city, Seattle, have made this the perfect location for many films and TV programmes over decades.

Here is a choice of movies to enjoy during these times when travel is not possible, to inspire you to explore this spectacular part of the world from the sofa and for future holidays.

Captain Fantastic

Drama written and directed by Matt Ross and starring Viggo Mortensen, Frank Langella, Kathryn Hahn, and Steve Zahn. The story centres on a family living in isolation in the Washington State wilderness.

Situated more than 5,000 feet above sea level at the far end of Mount Baker Highway, Artist Point which boasts magnificent views of Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker made several appearances in the film. Other local locations include Camp Korey in Carnation, the cliffs by Deception Pass State Park and Pack Forest, west of Mount Rainier.

Location Scout Dave Drummond said of the movie, “It’s like a postcard or a love letter to the state.”

An Officer and a Gentleman

The 1982 Classic American romantic drama film starring Richard Gere, Debra Winger and Louis Gossett Jr.

The film was shot on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, at popular tourism hotspots – Port Townsend and Fort Worden. Deactivated U.S. Army base Fort Worden, in the Puget Sound area, was the location for the Aviation Officer Candidate School and now features in tour operator brochures internationally.

Practical Magic

Released in 1998, this romantic comedy fantasy film stars Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as sisters with a hereditary gift for practical magic.

Owens House, a towering Victorian property, was actually purpose built for the movie on the west side of picturesque San Juan Island overlooking Haro Strait.

The small town scenes were filmed in Coupeville, Washington, a pretty Victorian-era coastal town located on Whidbey Island, about an hour north of Seattle.

Rumour had it that Nicole Kidman and her then husband, Tom Cruise, rented a house on San Juan Island overlooking the sea for the duration of filming.

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

This psychological thriller was filmed exclusively in Washington State. The family house, which is regularly referred to as the ‘Hand that Rocks the Cradle House’ by movie fans, is located in Tacoma, and the Mott’s residence is in Seattle.

I Love You to Death

A 1990 American black comedy starring Kevin Kline, Tracey Ullman, Joan Plowright, River Phoenix, William Hurt and Keanu Reeves.

Director Lawrence Kasdan wanted the backdrop to have an industrial, small-town feel and chose Tacoma largely because of the presence of its paper mill. He said “At times it’s very beautiful, this complex of lights and smoke and industry, set against a background of magnificent mountains and water. It’s a real American scene with the defiling, yet necessary, industry happening in the midst of this beautiful country.”


In this thriller that stars Michael Douglas and Demi Moore, the fictional corporation, DigiCom, is located in Seattle’s Pioneer Square. Production designer Neil Spisak said; “DigiCom needed to have a hard edge to it, with lots of glass and a modern look juxtaposed against the old red brick which is indigenous to the Pioneer Square area of Seattle. Barry (Director Barry Levinson) liked the idea of using glass so that wherever you looked you’d see workers in their offices or stopping to chat. This seemed to fit the ominous sense that Barry was looking for, a sort of Rear Window effect, where you’re looking across at people in their private spaces.”

Other Washington locations within the movie include the Washington State Ferries, Bainbridge Island, Washington Park Arboretum and Pike Place Market.

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