“Cornwall is a unique location,” says Rob Harris, a renowned film publicist who’s worked in the industry for nearly 30 years on huge hits like Gladiator, The Perfect Storm and Black Swan. “Its dramatic coastal vistas and charming villages make it a perfect place to capture the beauty of England.”
Time and again location scouts across the film spectrum, from Hollywood blockbusters to classic British films, choose Cornwall to play a starring role alongside the cream of acting talent. “There’s a timeless quality to Cornwall’s landscapes,” says Fiona Frankham, former location manager and South West Screen’s production services manager. “It instils an absolute sense of place when you see it on the screen.”
A handful of Cornwall’s A-list film locations
Undisputed king of Hollywood Brad Pitt, Lost’s leading man Matthew Fox and a boat load of zombies rolled into town in August in 2011, when Paramount Pictures filmed scenes for apocalyptic zombie thriller World War Z , released this year, at Falmouth Docks. Filming took place in and around the harbour and several hundred local people were involved as extras and assistants to the crew. “There was a fantastic atmosphere,” says Jeff Taylor, second assistant director at Paramount Pictures. “Filming went really well and it has been a real pleasure working here.”
This stunning horseshoe-shaped bay on the north coast puts in a brief but spectacular appearance in the opening scenes of Die Another Day (2002). Pierce Brosnan, making his fourth and final outing as James Bond, surfs into the bay on an undercover mission and, though the scenery is guaranteed to be just as breathtaking in real life, we can’t promise waves quite as large as Bond’s CGI ride.
If there’s a corset or cutlass involved then Charlestown is the Cornish film location of choice. Its immaculately preserved 19th century harbour and resident tall ships put it on every locations scout’s authentic period list. Recent big-screen credits for Charlestown include Johnny Depp’s Alice in Wonderland (2010), The New World starring Colin Farrell (2005), The Three Musketeers with Kiefer Sutherland and Charlie Sheen (1993) and the adaptation of Mansfield Park starring Jonny Lee Miller (1999). You might also recognise it from small-screen standouts Hornblower (2002), Rebecca (1997) and Moll Flanders (1996).#
Prague may have provided the main backdrop for the Hughes brothers’ 2001 Jack the Ripper flick, From Hell, starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham – but this striking fishing harbour on Cornwall’s north coast played a supporting role. Boscastle also appeared in award-winning actress Brenda Blethyn’s 2000 film Saving Grace, which later spawned Martin Clunes’s TV hit, Doc Martin, filmed just down the coast in Port Isaac.
Tim Burton was looking for “a perfect, pocket-sized mansion; something beautifully symmetrical, with intimate interiors, wide views and landscaped gardens” for his surrealist, Gothic remake of Alice in Wonderland (2010). He chose Antony House near Torpoint from a list of more than 30 houses. The early 18th century mansion provided the only real location for the film that saw A-listers Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, along with rising star Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre, 2011), transformed into outlandish versions of the favourite storybook characters.