20 Movie Characters’ Homes You Can Visit

A tour of movie stars homes in Los Angeles in 2002 left me fairly unimpressed but since then I’ve found something of much more interest to me and that’s the places where some of films most famous characters live. Over the years I’ve covered hundreds or movie locations in many countries but I think many of my favourite photo’s have been captured at these homes.

So, here is a virtual tour taking you around the world from the UK to the USA to Tunisia to France to Germany. It might cost you a fair bit to visit all these homes and there’s not much chance of seeing the stars you believe to live there. We here at Beyond The Movies have made huge losses undertaking such ventures so that you don’t have to but if you actually do then please be aware that many of these homes are private property so behave with respect and discretion. Here then, in no real particular order, is the list…

1. Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio), The Karate Kid (1984) – 19223 Saticoy Street, Reseda (USA). Details here

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2. Marty McFly (Michael J Fox), Back To The Future (1985) – 9303 Roslyndale Avenue, Arieta (USA). Details here

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3. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), The Bourne Identity (2002) – 104 Avenue Kléber, Paris (France). Details here

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4. Lola (Franka Potente), Lola Rennt (a.k.a. Run Lola Run) (1988) – 13-14 Albrechtstrasse, Berlin (Germany). Details here

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5. Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire), Spider-Man (2002) – 8839 on 69th Road, Forest Hills, New York (USA). Details here

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6. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) – Sidi Driss Hotel, Matmata (Tunisia). Details here

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7. Ben Kenobi (Alec Guiness), Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) – Djerba (Tunisia). Details here

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8. M (Judi Dench), Skyfall (2012) – 82 Cadogan Square, London (UK). Details here

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9. Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield), The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) – 36 Fuller Place, Brooklyn, New York (USA). Details here

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10. Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger), Bridget Jones’s Diary – Globe Pub, 8 Bedale Street, London (UK). Details here

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11. Will Freeman (Hugh Grant), About A Boy (2002) – 16-18 St James’ Walk, London (UK). Details here

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12. Charlie Croker (Michael Caine), The Italian Job (1969) – 18 Denbigh Close, London (UK). Details here

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13. Charles (Hugh Grant), Four Weddings & A Funeral (1994) – 22 Highbury Terrace, London (UK). Details here

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14. Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) – Ksar Medenine (Tunisia). Details here

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15. Dr Emmet Brown (Christopher Lloyd), Back To The Future (1985) – 4 Westmoreland Place, Pasadena (USA). Details here

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16. Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn), Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961) – 169 East 71st Street (USA). Details here

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17. Robert Neville (Will Smith), I Am Legend (2007) – 11 Washington Square Park North, New York (USA). Details here

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18. Carly Norris (Sharon Stone), Sliver (1993) – 211 Madison Avenue at East 36th Street, New York (USA). Details here

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19. Tokunaga FamilyJu-On: The Grudge – Tokorozawa, Saitama (Japan). Details here

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20. Amélie (Audrey Taotou), Amélie (2001) – 56 Rue des Trois-Freres, Paris (France).Details here

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Review: Films Set In Japan – Lost In Translation (2003)

This then is the moment I’ve not been looking forward to but the tenth anniversary of ‘Lost In Translation‘ seems to be a good time to give my take on a film which has caused me to have many different feelings of emotion over the last decade. The reason I’ve delayed reviewing this film is that its probably the most famous one and its also one that is loved by so many except me who thinks its just a little bit over-rated.

The Autumn of 2003 was a monumental one for me as it was when I first came to Japan and you’d think that this film coming out at the same time might lead me to have quite an affinity to it……and in some ways I do, but I still can’t get past the fact that it’s quite a dull film and nothing much really happens! There, I’ve said it and now I guess I’ll face the backlash!

For anyone who has seen my guide to the filming locations of ‘Lost In Translation you may be surprised to hear this. That particular piece has been very kind to Beyond The Movies in terms of regular hits but that’s due to the cinematography which fascinates me far more than the content of the film. Tokyo is of course the world I live in and from that aspect I quite enjoy ‘Lost In Translation‘ as a travel documentary but I’ve never really understood why its so popular elsewhere.

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So as you probably already know, washed-up film actor Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and young wife Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) are in Tokyo for different reasons. Both are lost in their marriages and lives, they’re feeling lonely, they don’t understand the language but together they share these experiences as they delve into both traditional and contemporary Japanese culture and customs. It’s their reactions in these situations that have caused the most controversy. Some people think that the characters in this film come across as spoiled, bored, rich and unsympathetic foreigners but I’m not so sure.

Of course, many people jumped on the moral high horse saying its racist and stereotyping and all the usual nonsense but there’s a reason these generalisations exist and thats because there’s an ounce of truth to them. Sure, some of the scenes afford the Japanese little dignity as the viewer is pushed into laughing at the small locals and their funny ways but that is seemingly what people want when it comes to seeing things about Japan.

I think the western world’s obsession with the whacky side of Japan’s culture gives this film the fuel for its fire with many of the scenes depicting the zaniness of what makes up such a small minor part of its society. I absolutely hated the “lip” my stockings and whacky gun-fire chase scenes which were just bizarre. On the other hand, I did actually like Harris’ appearance on the TV show ‘Matthew’s Best Hit TV‘ (yes, that show really did used to exist!)….even though I usually despise such dumbed-down juvenile TV.

The more ancient customs may be somewhat shoehorned into the film by way of ancient temples and shrines, chanting monks and ikebana but to her credit Charlotte does watch all of this without judgment which is all you can do sometimes as a ‘fish out of water’.

Anyone who has ever spent a bit of time in Tokyo will of course pick faults as is customary when films are made in foreign settings but maybe they’re missing the point as this film is about a couple of American’s who didn’t really choose to visit the Japanese capital but were instead thrown into a situation and did what many often do. The only difference here is that its captured on film and shown to the world. Sure, nothing really climactic or dramatic happens but it’s more about appreciating the atmosphere.

Ten years later, we still have no idea what Bob whispered into Charlotte’s ear at the films climax and to be honest do we really need to?! It wouldn’t make any difference but directors often like to leave audiences thinking at the end and such a scene with a vague message does exactly that. I hope it’s never revealed until the sequel comes along!

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Tokyo Fox Rating 7/10


6 Movies ‘Set’ In Japan But Filmed Elsewhere

Unlike other Asian countries, foreign production companies usually remain faithful to Japan by actually filming on location when need be but there are of course times when other places are used to fill in for the country. One of the most common scenarios is for Japanese scenes to be filmed at Japanese, or even Chinese gardens in the USA, Australia or wherever but the following movies were all faked in some way using other countries to double up as Japan.

* The Karate Kid Part II (1989) – The sequel to the classic 1986 film sees Daniel-san follow Mr Miyagi (Pat Morita) back to the latter’s homeland to see his dying father in Okinawa whilst settling some old scores. Oahu in Hawaii stood in for the southern Japan island. A scenic area called Kahaluu was spotted in an aerial survey from helicopter by the filmmakers 20 miles from Honolulu.

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The place is 43 acres and is covered with palms and a lagoon which once served as a royal fish pond. Thanks to some of Morita’s connections, filming was able to take place on the land which had been closely preserved before then. An Okinawan village was built and 50 Okinawa-born Hawaii residents were recruited to portray the villagers. Further shooting took place at The Burbank Studios in California where the Naha street and the O-bon dance and finale at the moat-surrounded ruins of the ancient castle were filmed.

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* The Last Samurai (2003) – Whilst some filming was done in Kyoto and Himeji the rest was principally done in New Zealand. The Taranaki region on the west coast of the country’s North Island played host to much of the filming with the Japanese village  constructed on the hillsides of the Uruti Valley where some battle scenes took place too.

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New Plymouth is the major city in the area and its port played the part of the Japanese Port. Less than an hour away from there is Mount Taranaki which portrayed Mount Fuji.  The parade ground, where the Japanese troops are trained to use rifles, and where Algren (Tom Cruise) invites a young recruit to shoot him, is the Pukekura Sports Ground in Pukekura Park, New Plymouth. The ’battle in the fog’ scene was filmed in Mangamahoe Forest, outside the town.

* Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993) – Not too much of a shock that this poor second sequel was not filmed in Japan.  It was set in feudal Japan in 1603 even though the movie poster states that it’s set in the year 1593!!  All filming was done nearly 5000 miles away in Astoria, Oregon. (You can see the full movie here)

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* Austin Powers In Goldmember (2002)  – It doesn’t take a genius to realise that none of this third instalment in the Austin Powers trilogy was not filmed anywhere near Tokyo! They didn’t reference this fact quite as blatantly as they did in the second film where Austin Powers (Mike Myers) comments on how England looks remarkably like Californian countryside! 40 minutes into the movie Japan’s capital is seen by way of Dr Evil’s (also played by Mike Myers) new lair which is a submarine in Tokyo Bay in the shape of him including the classic little finger to the mouth. It’s long, hard and full of sea-men! This was supposedly created using CGI and the docks at San Pedro in south Los Angeles.

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The Asahi Sumo Arena doesn’t exist which is where Austin and Foxxy head (albeit with obvious rear projection of Shinjuku in the background) to find Fat Bastard (again played by Mike Myers) who tells them of Roboto Industries whose boss is named purely to give Powers the chance to say “Domo arigatou Mr Roboto” as was sung in Styx’s 1983.

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* Letters From Iwo Jima (2006) – This Japanese volcanic island is actually part of Tokyo albeit a long, long way south (750 km) of the mainland. Access to the island is prohibited (for the general public) but the filmmakers were given special permission by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to film there on a short day trip there. A short scene with Ken Watanabe doing something or another on the beach was shot and then  Sandvik in Iceland was used to replicate its black sand beaches. Other scenes were filmed primarily in Barstow and Bakersfield in California as well as the studio’s in Los Angeles.

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* The Wolverine (2013) – An artistic license was certainly used where the filming of this one was concerned. Sure, the funeral scene really was at Zojoji temple in Tokyo but that footage was all interwoven with what was filmed at Chinese Friendship Gardens in Sydney. The very same gardens were also used in ’The Adventures Of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert‘ (1994). The Australian city was further used with Nagasaki’s wartime prison camp being built at Bonna Point Reserve in Kurnell on the south of Botany Bay.

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Yashida’s heavily-defended compound in Tokyo was actually filmed at the Fox Studios on  the former Sydney Showground at Moore Park. Paramatta is in Sydney’s western suburbs and the intersection of George and Smith Streets doubled up as the Tokyo streets where a foot chase took place. Furthermore,  Sydney Olympic Park was made into a Japanese village draped in snow where Logan (Hugh Jackman) heads to save Mariko from Yashida’s empire in the mountains. Filming also took place on Brisbane Street in Surrey Hills which was transformed to look like a Japanese street with Japanese signs and vehicles scattered throughout.

Tokyo Filming Locations On Google Maps…Finally!!

Since first starting the Tokyo Filming Locations part of this blog in 2009 it has grown into a pretty sizeable piece of work leading to some readers enquiring about whether I had a map detailing whereabouts each and every site is. Of course, addresses of each film location have been detailed in those entries but it has to be said that it’s a lot nicer to  view where they all are and it gives one a better idea of which ones are close to hand.

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Comprehensive, entertaining and exhaustively researched this ‘Tokyo Filming Locations‘ map contains detailed coverage of dozens of films and how each location was used on screen. Films to feature include Lost In Translation, Babel, The Wolverine, You Only Live Twice, Kill Bill: Volume I, Godzilla, The Grudge, The Ramen Girl, The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift and many, many more.

How to use this map: Dip in and pick out what you want to see. Take your time, live the experience, sample the bars and restaurants. While there are plenty of commercial establishments in this list, some are in residential areas and are in fact private property where the owners have no connection or even knowledge of the films. Please respect their privacy.

* Please note that some of the addresses are not exact but are very close and together with the information on this site the two should work together hand in hand to help you find the place you desire.

See map at http://tokyofox.wordpress.com/2013/10/04/tokyo-filming-locations-on-google-maps-finally/