Movies filmed in Washington State (WA)


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The Evergreen State is more than just trees. Although there are 21 million acres of forest throughout the 71,362 square feet of the state, there’s also the Pacific Ocean, which the state has 157 miles of shoreline along. There are also volcanoes, 10 to be exact, including Mount St. Helens. Oh and glaciers too, over 3000 of them.

There are three national parks: Mount Rainier, North Cascade, and Olympic National Park. Mount Rainer tops the state (literally) at over 14,000 feet high in elevation, ranking it at number 17 in all the United States. The deepest gorge in the US, at 8,000 feet, lies at Hells Canyon.

A few other fun facts that only Washingtonians or ‘Toners know? It’s Washington that produces the most apples; it outpaces NY by more than five times. And it’s second in line to California in wine production. Speaking of alcohol, over 75 percent of hops in the United States come from Yakima Valley.

The only state to have ever been named after a president has also been host to many film crews over the years who find the area to be a perfect setting. Here are a few of the most famous:

Movies filmed in Washington State

The War of the Roses (1989)

This black comedy reunited Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito, who had previously worked together on two other movies. It was based on a 1981 novel by Warren Adler about a well-to-do couple whose divorce gets violent when it comes to splitting their material possessions and mansion. Some filming was done on Whidbey Island.

This Boy’s Life (1993)

This coming of age story was based on a 1989 memoir by Tobias Wolff. Leonardo DiCaprio took on the role of Wolff with Ellen Barkin playing his mother, and Robert De Niro, his stepfather. This was the first of many movie collaborations between DiCaprio and De Niro. The story was set in the 1950s in Concrete, with many shots done there.

The River Murders (2011)

This psychological crime film had Christian Slater, Ray Liotta, and Ving Rhames in its lead roles. Jack Verdon goes from being the main homicide detective investigating a string of murders to being the prime suspect in those murders, due to a connection he has to each of them. All filming was done in Spokane.

The Hunt for Red October (1990)

Based upon Tom Clancy’s 1984 novel, this spy movie had Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, and James Earl Jones starring. It is the first time that former US Marine Jack Ryan (played by Baldwin) appeared on the big screen. In this film, he is trying to thwart a would-be submarine attack. Filming took place in several areas of the US, including Keyport.

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

This romcom reunited Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, who had previously worked on Joe Versus the Volcano together. Hanks is a grieving widower living in Seattle and Ryan is a reporter in a loveless relationship living in Baltimore. Filming locations included various areas of Seattle, including Pike Place Market and the airport.

10 Things I Hate About You(1999)

A modernized version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, this romcom starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Heath Ledger, and Julia Stiles. In order to date Bianca, you’ve got to snag a date for her older sister, Kat. The film was set in Seattle with many locations done there as well as in Tacoma.

The Ring (2002)

This horror movie starring Naomi Watts and Martin Henderson was a remake of a 1998 Japanese film, which was based on a 1991 novel. Once you have watched the videotape, you have 7 days before you die. The story was set in Seattle, with some filming done there as well on Whidbey Island, Port Townsend, and many other Washington areas.

Singles (1992)

Writer Cameron Crowe’s 4th film, this romcom had an ensemble cast that included Matt Dillon, Bridget Fonda, and Kyra Sedgwick. Seattle-based musicians from Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains also made appearances. The apartment building that everyone lived in was located in Seattle and filming was done all over the city.

I Love You to Death (1990)

This comedy about a wife attempting (repeatedly) to have her cheating husband killed was based on an actual attempted murder in Allentown, PA in 1983. Main stars included Kevin Kline, Tracey Ullman, Keanu Reeves, Joan Plowright, and River Phoenix. The film moved the setting to Tacoma, with shots done there as well as in Steilacoom.

Benny and Joon (1993)

This offbeat romcom starred Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson as two mentally challenged adults, who against all odds, find love in each other. Aidan Quinn and Julianne Moore also starred. Some scenes were filmed in both Spokane and Metaline Falls. A musical adaptation of the film was released in 2017.

The Hanging Tree (1959)

This western starring Gary Cooper, Karl Malden, Maria Schell, and George C. Scott was based on a 1957 short novel by Dorothy M. Johnson. Doc Frail is a man trying to get away from his past until he meets Elizabeth in a mining camp. The story is set in the 1860s and 70s in Montana, but filming was done in Nile, Goose Prairie, and Yakima.

My Own Private Idaho (1991)

This independent drama about two young street hustlers (Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix) searching for their place in the world was Gus Van Sant’s 3rd movie. The story is loosely based on (and uses language from) Shakespeare’s Henry IV and Henry V plays. The story takes place in Oregon, Idaho, and even Rome, with some locations done in Seattle.

Twilight (2008)

The first of four movies based on Stephenie Meyer’s novels, this romance film starred Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen, an aged vampire who falls in love with Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan, a teenaged human girl. The story is mostly set in Forks, with some filming done in Corbett, Kalama, Mount St. Helens, and Prindle, among many other spots.

Practical Magic (1998)

This fantasy romcom was based upon Alice Hoffman’s 1995 novel and starred Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing, and Dianne Wiest. Bullock and Kidman are sisters and Channing and Wiest are their aunts, and all are witches. The story is set in MA mostly, with filming done all over the state, including Friday Harbor and Anacortes.

The Postman (1997)

This action movie had Kevin Costner as director, producer, and lead actor. It was based on 1985 book by David Brin. The film is set in the near-future post-apocalyptic US, where a man finds a mail carrier uniform that he uses to begin restoring the country. Scenes were shot all over the Western US, including Metaline Falls and Anacortes.

Say Anything (1989)

This movie forever changed how to declare your undying love (it’s standing outside of their window with a boombox playing “In Your Eyes”). The teen romcom starred John Cusack as a high school graduate grappling with being in love with a girl (Ione Skye) who is out of his league. The story was set in Seattle with some filming done there.

An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)

This romance was about an officer-in-training (Richard Gere) who meets and falls for a local “Puget Sound Deb” (Debra Winger). Louis Gossett Jr. played a sergeant and was the first African American man to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. The story was filmed all over the state, including Port Townsend, Tacoma, and Bremerton.

Harry and the Hendersons (1987)

This comedy film about a family that hits Bigfoot with their car and brings him back to their home was set in Seattle. Much of it was filmed there as well Wenatchee National Forest, North Bend, and Index, among many others. It starred John Lithgow and Melinda Dillon, with several actors playing Harry, both in suit and as puppets.

With over seven million people living in the 42nd state to enter the union, it ranks at number 13 in most populated. And when there are film crews set up in the state, that number spikes up significantly. With so much to do and see, the state’s popularity for movie locations will only spike as well!