5 movies filmed in Charleston & where to relive your favorite scenes!

Charleston, South Carolina is known for its rich history and southern charm. It is no wonder why numerous movies have been filmed here. After you’ve explored a bit of Charleston’s founding history, spend a little time exploring the more recent history of the city. Here are 5 popular movies filmed around the Charleston area and where you can go to relive your favorite scenes!

The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002)

The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys was filmed in 2002 and stars Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, and Renee Zellweger. The movie, set in the 1970’s, is about a group of Catholic school friends who plan a prank on their teacher after she punishes them for drawing an obscene comic book.

Most of the filming was done in the upper Charleston peninsula area. The school used in the movie, Immaculate Conception Catholic School, (located at 200 Coming Street) has since been converted to affordable senior housing called Radcliffe Manor.

Dear John ­(2010)  

Dear John, starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, was filmed all over Charleston with iconic scenes shot on Edisto Island, Charleston Air Force Base, The Citadel, College of Charleston, Folly Beach, Harleyville, Isle of Palms, James Island, and Sullivan’s Island.

The Isle of Palms fishing pier is where John and Savannah first met.

Isle of Palms Pier

The College of Charleston makes several appearances in the film. Randolph Hall is where Savannah reads and writes most of John’s letters. Bowen’s Island Restaurant on James Island also had its moment on the big screen during Savannah and John’s first date scene.


The tear-jerking airport scene was actually not filmed at the Charleston airport, but in the second-floor lobby at the Gilliard Center. Crazy!

In addition to using Charleston as the backdrop for the movie, filmmakers turned to Carolina Autism when casting a young Alan. Through the Charleston-based nonprofit organization, they discovered six-year-old, Braeden Reed, who proved to be a very talented and professional actor.

Click here to see pictures from the set.

Forrest Gump (1994)

Though it was not filmed in Charleston, the classic favorite, Forrest Gump was filmed in several surrounding areas including; Beaufort, Fripp Island, Pritchardville, Yemassee, Varnville, and Walterboro.

The Notebook (2004) 

If you had to name one movie filmed in Charleston, SC, you would probably be quick to answer,”The Notebook”. It has become a Charleston fun fact and appears on numerous “Things to do in Charleston” lists.

Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams star in this infamous love story inspired by Nicolas Sparks’ romantic novel. To prepare for the role, Ryan Gosling lived in Charleston for a few months prior to filming. He spent his mornings rowing on the Ashley River and his afternoons making furniture.

Much of the film’s plot takes place in and around Seabrook Island, one of the South Carolina sea islands, located 20 miles southwest of Charleston. However, none of the filming took place on Seabrook Island. It was actually filmed in Mount Pleasant, a wealthy suburb of Charleston. The College of Charleston was used as the backdrop for the Allie’s (Rachel McAdams) college and Boone Hall Plantation was used for scenes of the Hamilton’s summer house.

The American Theater on King Street

Look familiar? The scene where Noah and Allie lie in the street watching the traffic light was shot on King Street in front of the American Theater. You may be t­hinking, “There isn’t a traffic light in front of the American Theatre.” Well, you would be correct! They had it specially installed just for that scene.

The house that Noah would rebuild in the movie was actually not a dilapidated house at all. It was actually a beautiful home on Wadmalaw Island at Martins Point Plantation (Bears Bluff Plantation) that they made look rundown for the earlier scenes of the movie.

High Cotton, East Bay St.

High Cotton, on East Bay Street, is the restaurant where Noah sees Allie dining with her fiancé. A manager of the restaurant at the time, Peter Pierce, actually played the maitre d’ who greets Allie as she walks into the restaurant. Oh, and if you not yet experienced the fine-dining at High Cotton, you seriously need to. I recommend first scrummaging up some old cotillion notes on table etiquette so you don’t accidentally use your salad fork to eat your oysters.  

The lake scene was filmed at Cypress Gardens in Moncks Corner. It took roughly a month to import and train the swans to follow boats and appear on camera as the director wanted. This scene had to be filmed in the month of January during the alligators’ hibernation. You can easily spot this iconic location on the walking tour at Cypress Gardens. (Scenes from The Patriot were also filmed at Cypress Gardens.)


The Patriot (2000)

Cypress Gardens

The Patriot, starring Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Joely Richardson, and Leon Rippy was filmed in Charleston and other surrounding areas in the Lowcountry. Most of the battle scenes were filmed at Darby Farm in Chester County. The farm was also used as the operations production base for nearly four months and is where many of the re-enactors camped out in between shooting days. Randolph Hall at the College of Charleston was used for interior shots of assembly meetings. Filming of The Patriot wrapped up at  Cypress Gardens, the location used for the Old Spanish Mission Black Swamp Militia’s secret island headquarters.


Check out other movies filmed around South Carolina, here!




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